“The Dungeon Mistress”

Karen had just gone through her 2nd divorce & had started online dating. She was a big-boned gal, but attractive still & only in her early thirties at the time. She owned her own house in the country & had a fabulous sense of humor, plus made great money to boot. At each appointment, she’d fill me in on how the latest date went & if she was going to see him again. I’d been married for over a decade, but I could still remember the thrill of the rendezvous, so it was fun listening to her.

One older man who lived in another state caught her fancy & she went to visit him over a long weekend. He became her tutor, her mentor, her Svengali if you will. Well, actually he became her “master”. He introduced her to the pleasures & pain of B&D and S&M. For folks who have lived a sheltered life, B&D stands for bondage & discipline, while S&M stands for sadist & masochist. Google them for further clarification, but be sure to delete your browsing history lest another family member accidentally discovers it.

It seems there are a LOT of people who enjoy this kind of lifestyle (and you KNOW who you are) & while I am in no way passing judgment on them, but you’ve got to admit that it is not considered the “normal” lifestyle that the majority of society subscribes to. Therefore, nobody really talks about it in every day polite conversation so the majority of citizens probably don’t know that it even exists.

Anyway, at each visit, I’d get to hear all kinds of bizarre things, such as how he liked to spank her, drip hot wax on her, etc. Thankfully she did not go into all the nitty-gritty details because some things are just better left unsaid, but she did show me the bruises on her hips. She was mighty proud of how she took the spanking without calling out the “safe word” (which would’ve ended the session). One day she told me that she was invited to a dungeon in Nashville, TN. (as in home of the Grand Ole Opry). Nash-vegas, as we jokingly refer to it, is not far from where we live & she was really looking forward to going.

Now to confess, I had been invited to a dungeon back when I was young, single & living in Chicago but I declined to go for several reasons, with fear being at the top of the list followed closely by me envisioning myself cracking up & then being thrown out of the dungeon. Or worse still, I imagined there could be a raid or some other crazy shit going down that would involve the police & I’d be seen on the evening news getting hauled off to jail in handcuffs. Then I’d have to call my folks back home for bail money since I & all my friends were broke. How the heck do you explain to your parents what you were doing at a dungeon?

After I got over the initial shock that wholesome Nashville even had a dungeon, I inquired about the details because I’ve always been fascinated by strange & unusual things. It seems that you need to know someone who is already a member of this dungeon in order to be let in. From what I remember, this dungeon is privately owned & is not on the tour of famous Nashville places, such as Music Row, Conway Twitty’s farm or Loretta Lynn’s restaurant. It’s very clandestine & for obvious reasons, so only a select crowd knows about it.

From what Karen said, most of the members are highly paid professionals in their working hours, but in their off-hours, they like to spank people & do other non-traditional stress-relieving activities. So each member pays dues, be it monthly, quarterly or annually; I do not know & they get to live out their fantasies. They can bring a guest member once, but after that, the guest must join if they want to visit again. She didn’t say what the dues were, but its kind of like a private country club of sorts, except everyone is openly freaky (unlike the regular country club members who keep their freak show on the down-low).

Two weeks later on her next visit, she tells me about her trip to the dungeon. She is now hooked on this lifestyle & has made friends with others from the dungeon scene. They were supposed to meet in Memphis the following weekend to go to another dungeon located there (Elvis would be rolling over in his grave….or maybe he was a member? Who knows).

To complicate matters more, I should tell you that I also was doing Karen’s mother’s nails. If she knew what her baby girl was into she would’ve put her house on the market & left town in shame. At each of her moms’ visits, I’d listen to her say things like “I wish she’d find a good man & settle down” or “it would sure be nice if she found a decent husband & gave us some grandchildren“. I’d keep my mouth shut & just nod, thinking to myself “that’s not likely to happen any time soon“.

Eventually, Karen did find a man, I mean a master. She told me all about him & how he was everything that she was looking for. He was the “top” to her “bottom, the “master” to her “slave”, the yin to her yang, the peanut butter to her jelly…..well, you get the picture. She’d proudly tell me of all the many bruises he left on her bare ass from the paddling she repeatedly begged for at these various dungeons. I was silently mortified & kept filing her nails without looking up!

Honestly, I just didn’t get it.  I got my butt beat enough as a child for miscellaneous & sundry bad kid behavior, so I have NO desire to experience any butt whippings again, but maybe she wasn’t disciplined that way as a child. Her parents are good, hard-working, loving Christian folk who raised her well, so I can’t imagine where her proclivities originated. Or maybe that was it?

One time she invited me to go with her to Nashville, but of course, I turned her down. I’m just not into that kind of adventure & neither is my husband. However, she did relay this extremely funny story to me upon her return & it’s definitely x-rated.


Anyone who might be offended by raunchy sex talk should stop reading now. I mean seriously STOP …READING….NOW!

OK, don’t say you weren’t warned & you have no right to try to judge me for what I’ve written because YOU chose to keep reading.


At these dungeons, members can walk around dressed or undressed or any stage in between. Anything goes as long as both parties consent to it. There are what they call “scenes” going on all around the dungeon’s large open room, such as someone chained up enjoying being whipped with a riding crop or Karen getting spanked while other members stand around watching. Or hot wax being dripped on a volunteer’s genitals & breasts, while people gather to watch (spectator sport?).

Many people like to wear leather S&M attire & mill about making conversation (or not). It sounded to me like a kind of kinky cocktail party. It also amazed me that you could literally be standing there fully clothed, but be engaged in a conversation about the stock market with a buck naked person wearing nipple clamps!

So this one time there was a woman that Karen said had a weird fetish…..she liked to (I’m NOT making this up) smell men’s testicles (!). Karen was telling me this with a totally straight face while I was doing her nails as if this sort of thing happens all the time. I tried SO hard not to laugh because she was deadly serious & I did not want to offend her. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I inquired as to how does this woman fulfill her strange obsession at the dungeon.

Apparently, the naked woman walks around the dungeon & when she sees a naked man that suits her fancy, she goes up to him & asks “Can I smell your balls?“. Then when he agrees, she drops to her knees & gently lifts his nutsack in her hands, all the while inhaling deeply as her nose is centimeters from the wrinkly things.

I absolutely could not hold it in any longer & I fell out laughing out loud! I said “No way!” & she said “Way!” …a la Wayne’s World, Party Time Excellent! (a reference to the epic SNL skits with Michael Myers & Dana Carvey…go YouTube it).  We both cracked up over the nail table until tears came out of our eyes. I told her that the image of the Grey Poupon commercial came to mind, but instead of the actor saying “Pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?“, he instead says “Pardon me, but may I sniff your balls?“. LMAO!

Anyway, after she’d been dating her dream man (who actually was exceedingly on the non-dreamboat side & more like the skeezy dudes with their long greasy, stringy hair that you see working the carnival rides) for a while, they began inviting other couples to stay over at Karen’s country house for a weekend of dungeon play. I cannot imagine what would’ve happened if her mom & dad paid her a surprise visit when this was going on, can you?

Eventually, they married, believe it or not. Before the wedding, she set up a pedicure appointment for him with me & I could not even look that man in the eye the whole time I was working on his feet. I felt truly grossed out just touching him & I wondered if he knew that I knew what sexual escapades they enjoyed. Even if he did he probably would not have even been embarrassed, but I certainly was.

She eventually stopped coming to me just before their divorce (big surprise to no one except her), but I still do her mother’s nails. Spilling your guts to your nail tech about such personal things tends to embarrass people once they’ve had the time & the space to reflect on it, you know?

So ladies listen up……if you like the way your tech does your nails DO NOT talk to her about your private sex life. One thing’s for sure, tho…I will go to my grave & never reveal any of this to her sweet mother!

party on aisle 15

“The Classic Car That Cost Them Their House”

Vera was one of my dearest clients who late in life married a good old country boy that we’ll call Curtis. Curtis had a classic car that he’d restored over a period of time & he dearly loved that thing. Unfortunately, their house only had a 2 car garage so one of their 3 vehicles had to stay parked out in the driveway.

Usually, that meant his nice pickup truck. He longed for a house with a 3 car garage & Vera longed to retire early (she’d only just turned 50 yrs old). Circumstances happened that allowed them to sell several acres of family land & this enabled Vera to finally quit her job. She had a blast going out to lunches with the girls several times a week & giving generously to anyone in need.

Their home was gorgeous, with a great 1 level floor plan & it was more than adequate for the 2 of them. But in order to get that 3rd car garage Curtis wanted so badly, they’d have to sell their house & buy a different one. At least that was the advice they were given by a contractor or other such person in the building/real estate world whose opinion they sought when investigating building a 3rd garage bay onto their brick house.


So they wound up buying an even bigger, grander house just a few streets away from their first home. This one had a 3 car garage, a 2nd floor with many steps & cost well over $100k more than their first home. The Master Bathroom had a glass shower large enough to fit 10 people, plus the bathroom even had a gas fireplace, too! When I saw how large the house was, I wondered to myself why in the world they weren’t downsizing? Not that they were very old, but it seemed odd to go up in size & price of a house when it was just the 2 of them heading into their retirement years.                               

They were only in their new house maybe 2-3 months when their financial advisor came to them with hat in hand & said: “Y’all can’t afford this house & Vera has to go back to work”. I’d literally have fired him on the spot if I were in her shoes because this is the sort of information he needed to give them BEFORE she retired & BEFORE they went house hunting for a bigger 3 car garage!

So, the house went up for sale again & it sold fairly quickly. Curtis & Vera had lost moving expenses & realtors fees, which amounted to several thousand dollars, but at least they got the full amount that they’d just paid for the big house. They tried to buy back their old house, but the new owners were extremely happy with it & were unwilling to sell. In fact, they’d just started building another 2 car garage situated on the other side of their driveway across from the existing attached 2 car garage!


Then things really started spiraling downward because the housing market was dropping. Vera & Curtis could only afford to buy an even smaller house than the previous 2 they’d owned & this one only had a 2 car garage again. That meant Curtis had to sell his classic car because they could no longer afford the luxury of having money tied up in it, plus it was at risk being parked on the busy street in front of their new smaller house.

He thought it would sell for a pretty penny, but because of the downturn in the economy, that did not happen. The car finally got sold for less than he had in it, the money went into the bank, they had to curb their spending & Vera went back into the workforce. They lived in house number 3 for another year or so after that. Then they decided to move off of the busy street & buy an even cheaper house with a 2 car garage out in the country where it was quieter.

In the end, they wound up getting a cute little house with a further drive into town & they stayed there for several years until Curtis passed away. Vera sold the house because she could no longer afford to keep up with the maintenance & she wisely invested the money into a retirement account that pays her a monthly amount to live on in addition to her small social security check.

By this time the housing market was on the upswing, so prices were much higher. Instead of buying another house in town that she could not really afford anyway, she’s renting an apartment with a 1 car garage where all maintenance is handled by the landlord. She still worries to this day that she’ll outlive her investment money, which is a legit concern since she often (or routinely, I don’t know) dips into the principal instead of just living off the interest.

Their experience taught me a lot of lessons that I hope I never forget. 

everything is based on your choices


“The Cuckoo Clock”

I’d been doing Mariska’s nails for several years when she told me that she had caught her husband in a lie. In my mind I thought “this is gonna be a good one” because Mariska was a hoot & a good storyteller to boot. You see, months prior to this her husband had decided to quit his plumbing job to become self employed.

Now some of us were made to be self employed, but Fred was not a self starter, nor was he ever going to be. I could’ve told her that from the beginning if they’d have asked my opinion. To be self employed & successful, you’ve got to really HUSTLE HARD.

At first Mariska was supportive of his entrepreneurial endeavor, but as time wore on she saw the writing on the wall. He had accomplished a few plumbing jobs here & there, but mainly he languished around the house while Mariska was at work. All the while their debt was growing ever larger & the strain on their marriage was mounting.

They’d been fighting about this issue for some time, at least for several months &
the contention kept growing. As a woman it’s hard to respect your husband when you are the one doing the majority of the work, plus all the housework, too. She wanted him to go back working for a bigger company where at least he’d have a steady paycheck, but he refused.

For several weeks she had suspected that he was not even leaving the house, so one morning before heading to work she decided to put a bunch of little rocks behind the back wheel of his truck. If they were scattered when she returned home, then she’d know that he had left the house. If not, then she’d also have her answer.

So upon returning home she found the rocks behind his wheel were still as she put them that morning & storming into the house, she started the interrogation. Then that lead to an argument, which then lead to him telling her that he in fact DID have a plumbing job that day, but the client had canceled at the last minute.

Her mistake was telling him about the little rocks behind his wheel not being moved, so she couldn’t use that trick again & she had no way to prove nor disprove that he was lying about the plumbing job being canceled suddenly.

So anyway, Mariska’s story unfolded…. on this particular day she said she’d called the house to ask her hubby if he’d found work, but there was no answer. So she called his cell phone & after a few rings he answered. Oh, wonderful news, she thought! According to Fred he was at a job site right now.

Then he went into great lengths telling her all about the job, what kind of a job it was, what part of town he was in, plus how he was underneath the clients house right then installing pipes. This was mid-summer at the time & he elaborated on how hot it was under the house, plus how the sweat was running into his eyes, he was working so hard…….when all of a sudden she hears her cuckoo clock go off in the background!

She said her husband went silent. All talking ceased & it was so quiet that she couldn’t even hear him breath. Meanwhile her cuckoo clock was still going off in the background. Finally it stops. This is the part where she tells him that he’d been busted! What else could he say…. that he took her cuckoo clock to work with him?

So he admits he’s really at home & that he only told her the lie to get her off his back. As she finished relaying this story to me, her most memorable words were “that’ll teach him to lie to me on the hour or the half hour!”

We both had a good laugh about that one. It wasn’t too long after that incident that he gave up the self employment notion & went to work for a large construction company. But by this time they were so far behind on the bills that their credit took a real hit & within a year or 2 their house was in foreclosure.

Somehow they stayed married tho.


if you don't build your dream



Field Trip to an Animal Hoarder’s House

Let me preface this by saying back in 1999 when this transpired, the term “hoarder” was not known by the general public. People just referred to their loved ones as being a ‘pack rat’ or figured they were lazy slobs who didn’t like housekeeping. Thanks to the tv show “Hoarders”, we now know that hoarding (animals or otherwise) is a mental disorder within the OCD family that is not treatable by medication alone.

It’s extremely difficult & stressful for both the person, as well as their family members who struggle to understand this compulsion. Ongoing professional counseling with a licensed therapist specializing in hoarding is critical to not only identify what triggers these tendencies, but to overcome the shame & learn new thought processes in order to avoid backsliding.


The urge to hoard is very strong & often runs in families. 

After reading a book about the Collyer Brothers of NYC, the 1st documented case of hoarding dating back to 1947 (when they were found dead in their home), my sister & I FINALLY had a word to put towards what was going on in our Mom’s house, plus in the houses of several Aunts & cousins all on our Mom’s side of the family.  For example, the photo (see below) could’ve been taken of our Mom’s kitchen (but thankfully wasn’t).

We know that for the rest of our lives, we both must be vigilant not to let this happen to us & to our homes, too.



Here’s how it all started…. 


I’d been going to a client’s house to do her nails while she was laid up recovering from surgery & I do mean laid up. She could not get out of bed for many months & every 2 weeks I’d faithfully pack up my nail supplies to drive across town in order to do her acrylic fills.

It was definitely a challenge trying to complete 1 hand at a time while the client was laying flat on her back, with me sitting to one side of her bed hand filing everything. Then I’d pack up all my supplies to move around to the other side of the hospital bed (set up in her living room) in order to do her other hand. Then we’d sit & talk some more, so this process took up 3-4 hours of my afternoon on my day off. 


Looking back on it now, I realize she’d have been just fine with a once a month nail service since she wasn’t cleaning house, working or doing anything other than operating the tv remote control & feeding herself. But she enjoyed getting visitors & I had the extra time back then.

On 1 of my visits, her tv was on & the local channel was breaking the news about an elderly lady who neighbors thought may have been dead because of a bad smell, plus she hadn’t been seen in a few days days. When authorities arrived expecting to find a corpse, they discovered she was indeed alive, but got the shock of their lives upon realizing more than 60 cats (most of them wild; the final tally was even higher) were living inside with the widowed lady!


We stopped doing nails & in disbelief we watched the scene unfold on the tv screen.


This was August in Kentucky, which means 90 to 100+ degree blazing heat & humid as all hell. They reported that the woman’s air conditioner had stopped working a year prior after the April 1998 hailstorm, plus her roof & gutters had extensive damage which resulted in massive leaking into her home. And she lived there in denial along with all her many cats.

We stared with mouths agape as the Human Society & the police wearing full HazMat suits complete with plexiglass face masks & air tanks/ventilators were transporting these feral cats stuffed inside cages out of this woman’s home, which happened to be located only a few blocks from my client’s house!

This was the first we’d ever seen such a thing & it was unbelievable. Back then we had not been desensitized to visions of animal hoarding on tv, so we were completely dumbfounded, repulsed & yet mesmerized. Like a car wreck, we just couldn’t look away.


The news reported that every piece of furniture was in shreds, the walls were severely damaged by cat urine along with rainwater, plus at least 1 room’s ceiling had caved in onto the floor beneath it. There were cats in the attic, cats under the house, hairballs & feces carpeting every inch of the floor. One officer said that upon shining his flashlight into the attic, he saw nothing but eyes glowing back at him.

It was said that 1 oscillating fan clogged with 2″ of cat hair was the only source of air & the “extreme odor of cat urine stood in the house like a stone wall”. Most of the female cats were pregnant & carcasses of several kittens were found in closets. The homeowner didn’t know how many cats she had, but thought it was around 20. After this horrifying discovery, her house was deemed unsafe & she went to live with relatives in the next town over.


After that the newspaper reported traps were set out & rechecked daily to catch all of the cats….80 in total, but at least 10 cats were already dead when taken from the home. The rest of the cats were put to sleep because they all had respiratory diseases, plus eye & ear infections caused from inbreeding, lack of veterinary care & from living in the squalid conditions inside the house.

The woman in charge of the Humane Society euthanized the cats there at the house to avoid frightening them even further by forcing them to travel to the shelter. She was quoted as saying “ I cried for these animals. I cried for that woman. She was just lonely, had a big heart & missed her husband”. For those cats, there really was no alternative.

“Most were inbred & as a result had extra toes, eye problems & did not respond well to touch”, she said. “Anytime I had to open a door I would kick it open, step back & wait for the bugs to scatter“. It really was a very sad situation all the way around. I’m sure it deeply affected everyone who dealt with it, including that poor elderly lady & her family.


Then the day eventually came when my client was finally able to stand up, then walk with a walker, then finally walk with a cane & after that her doctor approved her to go for a ride in a car. When we were finished with her nails one day & while her polish was drying, she said “Let’s go find the cat house & you can drive me”!

So we got her situated in the front seat of my car, but had to recline it so far back to make her comfortable that she was almost laying down. This was before cell phones or Google Maps, so we slowly drove up & down the neighborhood until we found what street it was on. It was easy to spot the house, since it still had the yellow police tape all around it & a “condemned” notice pinned to the front door.

We parked in the front driveway & my client wanted to go peer into the windows, but I talked her out of that notion by saying that the ghosts of the dead cats would come back to haunt us. I remember nervously looking around at neighboring houses, just fearing someone would see me & call the police. I’m sure the neighbors couldn’t see the top of my clients head just barely sticking up above my car door & I most certainly didn’t want to risk being recognized by anyone, so we hurriedly left.


We were like 2 giddy kids driving away laughing with relief, as if  we’d just survived the local haunted house & couldn’t wait to tell all of our friends about it or something!

The brick house looked normal, except for the police tape & a 12 foot section of gutter that had come loose from its moorings. 1 end was still attached to the house while the other end was touching the ground. From the front you could not see where the roof damage occurred & the front yard appeared recently mowed. The back yard had a chain link fence around it, a few trees & 1 lone doghouse. Amazingly, we couldn’t smell anything bad with our windows rolled down, which struck us as odd, but maybe the wind was in our favor.


How did it all end, you ask?

Well, the elderly lady was allowed to keep 2 healthy cats (immediately spayed & neutered by the Humane Society). Her 1 lone dog was amazingly in good health, most likely thanks to it living out back in that doghouse & it was put up for adoption. She was given a period of time to assess the house’s damage & make the necessary repairs, but in the end those proved too costly as the urine, feces & water damage was so vast. The house could not be salvaged & many months later it was completely demolished. Someone bought the lot & a new house that looks totally out of place from all the 1960’s neighboring homes now stands there.

A few years later we’d heard thru the grapevine that the elderly lady went to live in a nursing home & by now has most likely passed away.


show Hoarders is fake





“The Client Who Fired Herself”

To this day we still laugh about it whenever the topic of firing clients arises. Here’s how it all started….. I accepted a new client named Mira who had been trying to get on my book for a long time. A vacancy opened up for a standing every 2 week appointment & she jumped on it.

Within a fairly short period of time she started to be 5 minutes late for her appointment. She was self employed like myself, so I figured she was covered up with all kinds of work & 5 minutes wasn’t that big of a deal. But then she started to be 10 minutes late, so we had to have a conversation about the need to be on time.

I shouldn’t have to tell people that because my salon policy is always in plain view & in a nutshell it states that the 1st time you are late, you’ll get an abbreviated service in the time that you’ve allowed me, but you’ll pay full price & your service will end when my next scheduled client arrives.

If you no-show or show up too late for your appointment to transpire at all, you’ll be charged 50% of the service that you booked. The 2nd time you’ll be charged 100% & must prepay before you can get back on my appointment book.  The 3rd time you’ll have to find a new nail tech.

The final straw came when Mira was 40 minutes late one day. I give reminder texts the day prior & she confirmed she’d be there at her appointment time. When she wasn’t, I texted her again to see if she was on her way & to make sure she was ok, but I never received a response.

After 20 minutes I texted my next client to see if she could come earlier, which she could. So while I was waiting for her to arrive & fuming because I’d lost 1 hour of income, I decided to water my salon garden to chill me out. While out on the porch with the hose in my hand, Mira finally arrives in her car. She walks up to the porch all casual-like, smiling really big & wiggles her fingers at me saying “Can you still do my nails now?

I replied “No, I’ve already texted my next client & she’ll be here any minute”. Mira stops walking towards me & says “Well, when can you get me in?”. As I continue watering my potted plants all nonchalantly, I respond “Just as soon as you pay me for tonight’s missed service”.

“But what if I don’t want to pay you?” was what she said next (she’s got big balls!), to which I replied “Well, then you can consider yourself fired & find a new nail tech” (I have big balls, too!).

Her last comment was “Oh”. And then she turned around, walked back to her car, got in it & drove away. I erased her from my appointment book & put the word out to all my clients that I had a standing appointment to fill in case they had a friend who wanted to get in. It was filled in no time flat by a good client who could show up on time.

But the really funny part came 2 weeks later when I was doing the nails of the woman (Jennifer) who had referred Mira to me. I never told anyone about what had transpired because I handled the problem & there was no need to blab about it. But while doing Jennifer’s nails she said “So, I heard you fired Mira”.

“Uh, no. She essentially fired herself” I explained. “I gave her the chance to pay me for her missed appointment & she chose not to, so the way I see it was that she fired herself.” Jennifer started to laugh & I had to ask “Did Mira tell you I fired her?”. Then Jennifer described how Mira had come into her store right after the incident happened & loudly exclaimed in distress “I just got fired by my nail tech!

To which Jennifer’s husband who also works in the store asked “Well, what did you do to piss her off?” 

It’s been at least 5 years ago that this happened & I haven’t had any similar incidents. I’ve run into Mira a few times since then, but I basically don’t even acknowledge her existence. Call me petty, but I take great pleasure in ignoring her presence.

However Jennifer still loves telling that story to everyone, especially to other clients of mine. It’s become the running joke that clients are just a little bit scared of me because they don’t want to be fired & they know I’ll do it if necessary!

we don't sugarcoat shit

THE PREQUEL: about 2 years prior to this incident, my client Sara & I were enjoying touring the Parade of Homes in our town. It’s a yearly event where builders get to showcase their mostly custom work (translation: very large & extremely expensive houses that most of us could never afford) while the paying public gets to meet them & we vote on “Best in show”, “Best kitchen”, “Best Bathroom” etc.

It’s a lot of fun because you get design ideas from the featured interior decorators, plus we can gather info on what company installed which brands of high-end windows/doors,  light fixtures, kitchen cabinets, driveway installation, landscaping, the paint colors used in each room, etc.

While touring one home, we walked into the kitchen & standing there was the interior decorator that I had fired a few years prior. She was “let go” because keeping appointments didn’t jive with her scattered & flaky life. The way I remember it was that we both acknowledged it just wasn’t working out & that she needed to go to a walk-in type of nail salon.

Anyway, she recognized me & saw that I recognized her. That meant we had to speak, so I went first by saying “Hi Tonya. How are you?” and we made brief pleasantries. Then I introduced my client Sara to her by saying “Tonya, this is my client Sara. Sara, this is Tonya, the interior decorator for this home”.

Then Tonya said to Sara “Nice to meet you. I used to get my nails done by her until she fired me”. I was caught by surprise & came back with “Uh, I wasn’t going to mention any of that”, to which she replied “Oh, it’s ok. My therapist fired me, too! I was always late.”

Well, at least she didn’t take things personally.

greatest accomplishment keeping mouth shut

“Well hello there, Crash!”

Several years ago, my client Denise & her husband Greg were at home one Sunday morning when the phone rang. It was Greg’s elderly father. The man was in a panic because he couldn’t get the garage door opener to work & he was going to be late for church. He asked Denise if she could send his son over to open it for him, so Greg drove right over to help him out.

Upon arriving in the driveway Greg pulled up to the closed garage door, walked up to the front door of the house & entered it calling out for his Dad. Upon not finding him inside, Greg opened the interior door leading into the garage & saw his Dad. His father was sitting inside his car anxiously awaiting the garage door to open. As Greg manually released the garage door, his father started the motor, quickly put it into reverse & hit the gas pedal hard. He never looked into the rear view mirror.

Unfortunately for Greg’s brand new SUV, that meant a severely smashed bumper, plus a jolting shock for his father. As Denise put it, Greg said his father was “visibly distressed”, which cracked me up because it sounded like she was recounting a newspaper article or police report. The good news is that her father-in-law made it to church on time because as she said “he leaves 40 minutes early & it’s a 10 minute ride”.

A day or so later her father-in-law called again & said he’d like to bring over a check for
Greg to cover the expense of getting his SUV fixed. Now, since her relationship with her father-in-law was a strained one at best, she said that was between him & his son and that she’d just stay out of it. Within a few hours the doorbell rang & Denise got up to answer it. Upon opening the door to see her elderly father-in-law standing on the porch, she jokingly said with a smile “Well, hello there Crash!”

A stricken look came across his face & he sort of staggered back a step. Not knowing why this was, she invited him into the house & told him Greg was in the shower, but he’d be right out. The elderly man started to say something, but just stammered a few disjointed words & basically got all flustered. Finally when he got it together to form a cohesive sentence, he sputtered indignantly “I’ve NEVER in all my life been called “TRASH”!

Denise explained that she said “Crash”, but I don’t think he was having any of it. So she went to get Greg out of the shower & told him the story, ending it with “and your father thought I called him “trash”. She figured she’d better tell on herself first before her father-in-law did. Greg tried to smooth it over with his dad, but I’m not sure how well that went.

Anyway, his father presented him with a check for $100 to cover the damage to his SUV (bless his heart, he still thought it was 1945). Greg said something to the effect of “Well Dad, this isn’t even going to begin to cover it. It’ll be more like $1000.” I don’t think his father truly believed it & he left probably thinking they were trying to rip him off. After a few days they got the estimate for over $800 & subsequently had the vehicle fixed.

A weekend or two after that Denise & Greg went out of town to a B&B. The next morning the owner of the Bed and Breakfast backed out of her garage & sideswiped their newly repaired SUV! Denise said that she too, like the father-in-law, was “visibly distressed”. Once again, Greg was in the shower when Denise had to break the unfortunate news.

We joked that if there’s a third time then the vehicle must be cursed & they should promptly get rid of it. But as time went on, there were no further accidents with this SUV. However the same could not be said for the father-in-law. He went on to total several cars as he aged (like spoiled milk, most would say). Being extremely cantankerous, he refused to give up driving no matter how many lives he put at risk.

After totaling another car, his insurance company dropped him. Denise & Greg created an account with a local taxi service that would take the old coot anywhere he wanted to go, but the bill would be paid by them so it wouldn’t cost him a dime. They nearly flipped out one day when they discovered he had strangers he’d just met up at the Mall drive him home (he’d told them his family was being mean to him by not letting him drive, so they felt sorry for hime). It was very apparent that he resented not being in control of his transportation.

Then it got worse. One day Greg got a call from the neighborhood meter reader (it’s a small town where many people know each other) who said “I remembered you telling me about your Dad’s car accidents & how you had a taxi service for him, but I think you should know that I just saw a car in his garage“. Greg nearly stroked out & immediately squealed tires over to his Dad’s house!

I’ll be darned if the old guy hadn’t called around to all the car dealers until he found one who would deliver him a car, whereupon he wrote a $9k check to pay for it. He refused to give it up despite his son pleading with him, but the fickle finger of fate stepped in. Within a few days he crashed into a ditch, totaling the car that he’d been driving for a week without any insurance. I can’t recall if the police cited him for that offense or if he just ran out of money, but he never drove again.

How did it all end? He got meaner & more ornery until the day that he died several years later, well into his 80’s.

your old & Driving Terrifies everyone



“The Screaming Orthodontist”

In 2008 when the market tanked & massive downsizing was sweeping the nation, my sweet client Penelope’s husband was laid off from his factory job. That made her salary all the more vital while he waited to be rehired or transferred to one of their sister factories out of state. It took almost a year, but his transfer finally came thru, so he moved to get started on his new job while Penelope stayed behind to pack & keep the house on the market until it sold.

Penelope worked for a local, well-known orthodontist here in town who had a lucrative business keeping teenagers in braces. To his patients, he was the fantastic “Dr. Jekyll” & they loved him. But behind closed doors he became “Mr. Hyde” & treated his staff like he owned slaves. He probably would’ve whipped them if he thought he wouldn’t be arrested.

He was extremely verbally abusive & insulting on a daily basis, to both the men & the women who worked in his office, but everyone was too afraid to quit for fear they wouldn’t get another job due to the Great Recession. I soon saw a pattern in Penelope when she’d come in after work to get her nails done & it was not good. She was visibly upset, near tears, flustered & obviously not her normal happy self.

She’d confide that 24/7 she was a nervous wreck, her stomach was in knots & her bowels were in an uproar all the time, plus in addition to being away from her husband, the stress of trying to pack an entire household & get it sold in the depleted real estate market was killing her. Add all that on top of being verbally abused by her boss had made her life a living hell.

3 incidents Penelope told me have stuck with me all these years. Incident #1 was when she asked her boss a work related question & he told her that she was a “nosy old woman” in front of other staff! She had to go find the answer from another source because he wouldn’t respond & she was too afraid to ask again. The 2nd incident involved the boss calling the staff into the back break room one day where he proceeded to scream & use profanities at them! He pounded his fist on the table while he was yelling at them, causing 1 woman to start crying.

When I asked what did the male employees do when this happened, she said they did nothing. Nobody did anything except stand there looking scared. Everyone just took it because their fear of losing their paycheck was greater than their need to stand up for their rights. During this “meeting” while he was having a verbal meltdown & pounding on the table, there came a knock at the back door which was situated a few feet behind him.

Her boss stopped in mid tirade, turned & yelled at the door “God Damnit, who IS it?”! The back door opened a few inches & a man’s hand with a brown sleeve reached thru holding a clipboard with a paper & pen. The boss snatched the clipboard from the hand, scribbled his signature on the paper & thrust the clipboard with pen back into the man’s hand.

The hand retracted with the pen attached to the clipboard & then reappeared holding a small box. The boss grabbed the box & the hand quickly disappeared outside the door again, after which the boss kicked the door shut with great force & continued “the meeting” where he berated each of his employees one by one in turn, calling them out for various & sundry infractions.

Penelope said nobody ever saw the UPS man’s face, but she was sure the guy had to have heard the loud screaming & cursing before he knocked. The poor guy probably squealed tires out of the parking lot & once back at the UPS facility asked to be assigned to a different route after that. He probably went home extremely thankful for his job & the fact that he didn’t work for that big bully.

I was beyond shocked & morally outraged. I could feel my face flushing with anger at how she & the others had been treated. This man had taken advantage of their fear caused by the most devastating financial crisis of our lifetime to abuse his power. He took his power trip out on those who depended on him for their survival & knowing jobs were scarce, he went over the top to create a hostile work environment. Too bad nobody secretly videoed him during his scream fest. That would’ve made an epic YouTube video & been a key piece of evidence in a massive lawsuit.

I told Penelope that the last he’d have seen of me was when I told him to fuck off & waved goodby with my middle finger flying high. Then I’d have walked out of there with my dignity intact singing “Take This Job & Shove It” as I drove 2 blocks down to McDonald’s where I’d have filled out an application. I’d freaking pick up cans out of ditches beside roads to recycle for money before I’d work at that hell hole.

I remember thinking “Thank GOD I do nails for a living & am self employed”! No paycheck is worth what she went thru & the indignities she suffered, of that I am certain. It makes me mad to this day when I think about it because he’s still got a thriving business here in town where most likely he’s abusing an entirely new staff.

The 3rd incident happened at Christmas, when his whole staff was required to work a half day on Christmas Eve. When quitting time came, the boss gave each employee $100 with instructions to go to the mall & purchase something for themselves. Can you imagine the hell that is Christmas Eve at a mall with last minute shoppers scurrying everywhere, harried clerks not in the most festive mood & bare shelves with remaining items torn asunder?

Their orders were as such: they could NOT use the money for groceries or to pay bills (even if they were facing bankruptcy or their cars were about to be repo’d). They HAD to spend all of the $100 AND bring the receipt with the remaining change left over to his house that night so they could all “celebrate” the business’s Christmas party.

At this ‘party’ on Christmas Eve (never mind that they wanted to spend it with their own families), the boss made each of them stand up & show all the others exactly what they had purchased thanks to his generosity, then give him the receipts (no doubt for a tax write off), plus whatever leftover change in bills & coins.

I can’t recall what she said she bought for herself, but it wasn’t something she really wanted or needed. She just bought anything to get the ordeal over with as soon as possible. But it was a fact that nobody enjoyed the command performance that evening except for the boss & possibly his wife. To add insult to injury, they had to all stay to eat dinner with him, too!

Upon her concluding this story at my nail table, I know my mouth was agape & my hand had stopped filing. I swear to God, she wasn’t kidding. And she was too upset for it to be a lie. It’s mind boggling how that man had the utter disregard for another person’s life & it became evident that this reputable orthodontist is undoubtedly a raging narcissist with sociopathic tendencies. 

How it ended was when her house finally sold & they took a big loss just to get out of it. Penelope packed up & was finally free to give notice before moving away. We still keep in touch from time to time thanks to Facebook & my life was made better just by knowing her. The same cannot be said about the orthodontist.

he's a good guy when yo get to know him

“It’s a Small World After All”

You’d think that in a city as big as Chicago, this sort of thing couldn’t happen….but it did.

Back in the 80’s I worked in a small nail salon with the 2 owners, Ramone & Vivienne, who claimed to be brother & sister (they really weren’t, but that’s another story). Our nail tables were all positioned next to each other in one fairly small area so that we all worked side by side.

Everyone heard everyone else’s conversations & many times all of our clients were conversing with each other, as we 3 techs joined in on the hot topics, too. One day Vivienne had a new client, a female cop (out of uniform) in her chair & as they were chit-chatting the woman started pouring out her guts to Vivienne about the sexual harassment she’d been enduring on the force.

According to her she’d been pursued by a married fellow police officer & had shunned his advances, but was now being bothered by him & his buddies on the force. I didn’t hear all of the story, as my table was furthest from Viviennes, but I heard most of it & most likely so did the client in my chair, plus also the client Ramone was working on, too.

Perhaps a week or more had passed when all of a sudden the female cop barged into the
salon decked out in full police uniform. She presented a very intimidating image with her gun in her side holster as she began loudly yelling at Vivienne.

All work came to an abrupt halt as everyone in the room gaped in shock at her red, angry face. She accused Vivienne of disclosing their conversation to someone in her department regarding the sexual harassment she had divulged on her last visit & she was now in trouble with her superiors.

The police woman was mortified that her coworkers knew her personal business & her work life was now unbearable. She let Vivienne know in no uncertain terms that she would never be back & upon having her say, she turned, storming out the door as it slammed behind her. We never saw her again.

Poor Vivienne was so stunned & shaken by the encounter, plus all of us were beyond embarrassed for her. She swore on all that was holy she had never told a soul about their conversation & couldn’t understand how such a thing could have happened. We all truly felt bad about it, but what could we do now? The damage was already done.

I cannot recall how we figured it out, but evidently the client Ramone had been working on that day when the female cop was initially telling Vivienne about the harassment actually knew the man in question (the alleged harasser).  She must’ve told someone else what she had heard that day in the nail salon & it gotten back to him or possibly she told him herself.

Now if this could happen in a large city the size of Chicago, imagine what gossiping could do in a small town?

The moral of the story for clients (& salon staff, too): don’t talk about anything you wouldn’t want printed on the front page of your local newspaper because you never know who else is listening. Take it to your grave or to your priest in confession.

we're networking



“Chlorox was her name”

Several years ago a client told me about one of her new co-workers at the factory. Apparently this pretty young blonde chick was temping there & in the lunch room, in front of God & everyone (that’s Southern for a lot of people, both men & women) she’d talk about very inappropriate things…..such as her breast implants & her anal bleaching.

SCREEEEEEECH! Back up. What. The. Frick?

I’d never heard of “anal bleaching” before then! Thoughts raced thru my mind…..firstly, WHY? Secondly, HOW? Thirdly, EEW!

I’m not sure what was said next because I think my mind couldn’t process how anyone other than a porn star would want to do or have need for such a thing (let alone pay money for it), but I do remember that after that incident this chick’s nickname at the factory (but not to her face) became “Chlorox”.

On subsequent visits & thru further conversations with my client, over the years I accidentally discovered who ‘Chlorox’ was! Without naming names (for legal purposes), I can only say that she used to be a nail tech before she got a divorce & gave nails up in pursuit of other things.

Word gets out in a small town, so I’d heard about it thru the beauty grapevine.  A few years ago this tech had left town without giving notice to the salon owner nor any of her clients that were on her appointment book. She’d left all her supplies there as if she were returning to work & simply moved out of state.

It was so bizarre! The poor salon owner who she booth rented from was left fielding angry complaints from people who wanted to redeem gift certificates (the tech sold the GC’s & pocketed the money since she was self employed) from clients who showed up for their appointments only to discover their tech had vanished.

Evidently she’d moved back at some point & it was always presumed that ‘Chlorox’ was fishing for a new husband at the factory…….one who was much older, near retirement & who’d have a good pension (if you get my drift).


anal bleaching- assholes lighten up



“The Bailout”

I once had a client (age 60+ & still working at a job) who withdrew from her retirement fund to pay off her 30+ yr old son’s debts just to keep him from filing bankruptcy. Silently I thought she’d lost her freaking mind & almost bit my tongue off not to say it. How could she & her husband think this was a good idea?

Being so close to retirement & not having the many years ahead of her that her son did to recoup her investments was mind-boggling. I briefly envisioned my parents/myself in that scenario…. as they gazed upon me with disappointment they’d have said “you made your bed & now you have to lay in it” (meaning “bail your own dumb ass out!”). But then again as a 30+ yr old adult, I’d never have asked nor expected my parents to financially rescue me from the results of my own bad decisions.

Anyway, it staved off the inevitable….for a few years. He went deeply into debt again living his lavish lifestyle & when the market turned in 2008 he lost his job, his house was foreclosed on, but he wouldn’t sell his about to be repo’d _______ (insert brand of extremely expensive car) because he “needed to look good for his next job in sales”. On top of that he/his fiancé were planning a wedding, preceding the unexpected baby that would be arriving soon thereafter. 

When he came around again with his hand out, looking for another bailout, this time his parents were financially tapped out. They refused to drain the last of their retirement savings for him, his car or his wedding. So he planned the blessed event to occur in his parents home (lol) & invited all of his & his fiancé’s friends.

It was winter. And their house was small. Sound pleasant? Nope. Do you think he first asked permission from his folks (the actual homeowners)? Nope. You think he paid for any of the food or alcohol? Nope.

So the day finally came for the wedding & I did her nails on the day prior. When she returned a month later I asked how everything went. What she told me just broke my heart. If I was his mother I’d have taken that to the grave before telling a soul, after I was finished crying my eyes out.

He wanted his mom, his sister & his fiancé to look fantastic for the wedding, so he made appointments for them at one of our local day spas. When they were finished getting pampered & were about to leave, THAT’S when they were presented with the bill (several hundred dollars)!

They all had just assumed he’d already paid for everything, since it was HIS idea & HE was the one who made the appointments for them. His mom barely had enough money to pay for 2 people, so his sister had to pay for her own services. Thoughtless of him? Yes.

But fairly predictable based on his past behavior, wouldn’t you say?
What are the chances that this son will either want to OR be financially able to take care of his parents in their twilight years?

So remember parents….when you raise your children to be prince & princesses, you may think it’s oh-so cute at the time, but eventually you wind up with selfish assholes as adults & you only have yourself to thank for it.

Oh, one more thing that’s MOST important……buy good long-term care insurance now while you’re still financially able & before your first heart attack, stroke or diabetes diagnosis precludes you. It’ll be cheaper & better for you in the long run when weighed against the odds of your offspring actually caring for you.


Time out? no, its a spanking