To the mast

My nails are a state. They always have been. I am somehow genetically blessed with the nails of a neanderthal. In particular my left hand ring and little finger look perpetually as if I have trapped my hand in a door. I have not. Unless my hand is somehow still suffering from the time 18 month old me trapped her small fingers in a door I assume that this is my nails.

My gruesome nails, be grateful this is out of focus; I’m saving your eyes.

I have tried all manner of food supplements, vitamins and hand creams to no avail. So the only time my nails have ever looked vaguely presentable is when I’ve had a manicure. And they’re covered in several layers of polish.

Several of my work colleagues sport beautiful nails with a different colour every week. These they do themselves, with impressive skill. Despite being ambidextrous where writing is concerned, every attempt to paint my own nails has resulted in something that looks like an angry toddler attacked me. I do not keep my crayons inside the lines, and apparently nail varnish is no different.

So periodically, when I need my hands to look presentable, I have invested in manicures. I tried glue on nails once when I was younger, and not only was it hugely inconvenient, but I could constantly feel them. It was weird. So my manicures have been of the traditional variety.

The first time I had a manicure it was a part of a whole spa day experience. Consequently I was half relaxed half completely mortified to be wearing a dressing gown in front of people. I can’t remember the shade of nail polish I chose, but I can remember being sat in the roof of a converted chapel wondering if I was supposed to try and make conversation with this lady fiddling with my hands. She seemed to only ask very functional questions such as “do you want your cuticles clipping?”, Did I? What was normal? I had no idea. We spent a lot of time in awkward silence.

The next time I had a manicure it was my treat to myself. I had in the intervening time tried a few more massage type treatments and overcome the embarrassment factor. So for my own birthday I bought myself a treatment package at a local spa. This was a significantly more enjoyable experience. The therapist was chatty and friendly. I found out her sister was getting married, that her parents were separated and that her mum likes hats. She was adventurous with her make up and nails, and so I felt encouraged to try something outside of my comfort zone. I left with purple and glittery nails. I felt different but happy. I’d had a good experience. I met my then boyfriend to go to lunch and he greeted me with “what is that on your nails? it looks chavvy and tarty”. And thus my happy balloon was burst and the nail polish was wiped off that evening.

My most recent manicure experience was somewhere between the two previous manicures. Like the last time I bought multiple treatments at once, and not only did I get a massage but also my first ever pedicure. This can largely be summed up as thirty minutes of me apologising for my feet. For my hands I chose a bright orange. They looked fabulous until I committed the nail-fatal act of getting money out of my purse, and smushing up my index finger’s polish.

I don’t think I will ever be one of those people with beautiful perfect nails, but I do really look forward to having a manicure experience that doesn’t go wrong somehow…


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