“The Vanishing Stylist”


Mina was our newest stylist & we instantly liked her. She was very young, cute, fresh out of beauty school, & full of life. As it turned out, her life was exceedingly different from anything we were ever exposed to. Within a few months of working with us, most of the stylists at the salon decided to go to the Bronner Brothers show (a large mainly African-American beauty show) in Atlanta.

Much planning went into arranging hotel accommodations, transportation, pick up times, packing & most importantly budgeting how much each person owed to cover the hotel/transportation costs. Looking back on it now, I feel blessed that two of us (myself & another stylist) couldn’t go.

According to the plan, Mina would be the last person picked up early in the morning the day before the show. Needless to say, she was not ready when the van pulled up at her apartment bright & early. But not only was she not ready, she hadn’t done her laundry either & had no clean clothes at all. So she put on a dirty old pair of sweat pants & a sweat shirt with a hoodie, then proceeded to stuff all her dirty clothes in a duffle bag instead of using a suitcase like normal people. According to her, she planned on doing her laundry at the hotel once they arrived.

Upon arriving at the very nice Omni hotel, all 5 of the women piled up into the room they were sharing. Mina had family & friends in Atlanta, so she called some of them while the others were unpacking. The more seasoned stylists decided it was best if they all paid their share of the room costs before heading to the show, lest they mistakenly spent it all. Everyone coughed up their fair share while Mina was talking on the phone to her mother.

When she hung up, she started crying, saying that she had counted on her mom to give her the money to pay for her room, but now her mom said she didn’t have any money. At this point, Mina was really bawling & the rest of the women felt sorry for her, so they said “It’s okay Mina, we’re all here to have a good time.”  They all pitched in to pay for her share (which ultimately decreased the money each had to spend at the show on supplies), so Mina stopped crying & everything seemed fine again.

Shortly after this, there was a knock at the door. It was one of Mina’s male friends that she had invited over & he looked really, really thug-like. Both he & Mina proceeded to flounder on the bed, joking & laughing, but never once did Mina ask if it was okay with her roommates to bring him in or if it was okay for them to lay all over the bed. Finally Mina decided she was going out with her thug friend, but she left her purse & duffle bag in the room because she planned to be back in time for the pre-show party later that night.

*Side note: Beauty shows always have a pre-show party, which is on the Saturday night before the show starts that following Sunday morning. It’s a fun chance to wear your most outrageous party attire & dance the night away. The party usually starts around 8pm or thereabouts.

Out the door Mina went with her thug-friend. After that, Mina was not seen or heard from in over 2 days! She did not show up for the pre-show party that Saturday night, nor did she appear at the show on Sunday morning.  In fact, she missed the entire show weekend & all the classes on Monday.

When they tried to call her prepaid cell phone on Sunday morning, it turned out that she hadn’t paid for any minutes, so it wasn’t working. The women were pretty concerned at this point, so they dug through Mina’s purse & located her mothers phone number. They also accidentally found an un-cashed paycheck for over $100, which would’ve more than covered her fair share of the hotel room! When they got her mother on the phone & told her that Mina had not been seen since the  preceding afternoon, she seemed unfazed. She couldn’t venture a guess as to where Mina was, she had not seen or heard from her, nor did she have any of her friends phone numbers. Well……if her own mother wasn’t worried about Mina, then they figured perhaps they were over reacting to the situation.

So the women went about their business at the show, shopping for products & going to classes, etc. Mina was the topic of conversation all weekend & everyone grew more anxious & more concerned as the hours went by. Monday was the last day of the show & they missed their scheduled classes because they decided to finally call the police to report Mina missing. The police showed up at the hotel (which caused all their stylist peers to gawk as the police came through the lobby) & upon arriving at their hotel room, they looked through Mina’s purse. Then they looked through her duffle bag full of dirty laundry (how embarrassing).  They said that it would be best if a family member actually filed the missing persons report, so Mina’s mother was called. Her mother seemed annoyed to be interrupted by the police, but finally went along with filing the report & that was that.

The owner of the salon asked Mina’s mother if she’d like to come down to the hotel to pick up her daughter’s belongings, but she didn’t want to do it. Instead she asked if they would drive them over to her apartment! The women opted not to do that because they had to check out at noon, plus they did not know their way around Atlanta & they had a long drive back home that day. So the mother told them to just take Mina’s stuff back home with them & give them to Mina’s sister.

The women proceeded to check out & the hotel stored their luggage while they finished up shopping at the show. Meanwhile, they’d missed their scheduled classes due to filling out the police report & the women anxiously hung out as long as they could in the hopes that Mina would turn up. Finally, one of them spots Mina coming across the show floor! She was still wearing the same dirty sweatsuit she left town in 2 days prior! Plus, she had her hoodie up over her head & was slinking across the show floor all sneaky-like, which made her look suspiciously like a homeless person instead of a hair stylist!

People all around her were dressed stylishly, so this was particularly mortifying to everyone who saw her coming. It was evident that she hadn’t bathed either because she smelled bad (imagine 3 day old underwear)! The thought of sitting next to her in the van on the 5 hour ride home was distressing to all of them & no one wanted to draw that short straw, for real! The women were sincerely relieved she wasn’t dead, but they deserved & demanded answers. The confrontation scene took place on the sidewalk in front of their hotel. They’d gotten their luggage & were waiting for the valet to bring their van around. Mina’s thug friend was still hanging with her when the women peppered her with questions like “Where were you?”, “Why didn’t you call?” & “How could you do that to us”?

Mina was amused & perplexed. “What’s the big deal? I was just having fun.” she replied. She honestly had no clue as to the worry she put everyone through. Her thug friend started laughing hysterically when they told her that they had even filed a missing persons report with the police, which totally pissed off all the women.

When the valet pulled up with the van, everyone threw their luggage in. Mina asked where her stuff was & that’s when the salon owner told her it was still at the front desk & that she could find her own way home. Then they shut the van doors & sped off, leaving Mina standing on the sidewalk in front of the Omni hotel! The women “discussed” it for the next 5 hours until they got home, whereupon the owner promptly changed the locks on the salon. Mina was officially fired!

We heard through Mina’s sister that she cashed her paycheck & took a Greyhound bus back to town the next day. Her sister & mother were both mad at us for leaving her there & couldn’t understand why we were making such a big deal about the whole thing! Evidently this kind of behavior was considered normal in their family, which is very sad. Since Mina owed the salon owner some booth rent (which went unpaid), the owner wound up keeping Mina’s salon supplies & sold them at a steep discount. Even though we all felt sorry for Mina & her chaotic life, at the same time we supported the salon owners decision to put her out. All of us liked Mina, but she was a lost soul. The last we heard through the grapevine, Mina moved out of state, had given up doing hair, & was going to school to learn auto mechanics!





“You Can’t Cancel Christmas”

It was the first week after the New Year when I was manicuring my client Nadine. We were comparing how we spent our time off at Christmas, when she tells me that her two children got more spankings that week than in their entire lives! At the time, her son Nathan was six & daughter Zoe was three. Evidently they did three really bad things in the relatively short amount of holiday time that their parents had off work. The first misbehavior was that they were jumping up & down on their Momma’s bed (knowing full well that they weren’t allowed to do so) & they wound up breaking the cherry bedrail so severely that it could NOT be fixed. Cha-ching for a new one!

The second bad thing the kids did was that they were jacking around near the Christmas tree while their Momma was in another room. Out of the corner of her eye, Nadine sees something large quietly go swishing to the ground in relatively slow motion….that is until it hit the ground, whereupon many loud shattering noises erupted. You guessed it. The kids had knocked the fully decorated Christmas tree to the ground & many family heirloom ornaments were broken! Spanking number two followed shortly thereafter.

The third REALLY bad thing happened when Nadine had gone to the grocery store leaving her husband in charge of watching the two kids (I hear the collective laugh from all the mothers that have made THAT mistake in the past). The children started misbehaving in some way, so their Daddy said he was going to return all the presents they’d bought & cancel Christmas entirely if they did not settle down. After that their Daddy went upstairs to take a shower, thinking that the kids had calmed down sufficiently. Upon exiting the bathroom (& thankfully fully clothed, not wearing a towel or a robe) Nadine’s husband hears knocking at the front door. He can see someone trying to peer in the sidelight window, but cannot make out who it is.

When he answers the door, standing there are two policemen, along with their patrol car parked in front of their house for all the neighbors to see on Christmas Eve! They tell him that they received a 911 call from a young boy reporting that his Daddy was being mean to him & were obligated to check it out. The two policemen enter & they start taking their report. Now Nadine’s husband is silently freaking out! He figured it would be best if the police heard the story from his son who he surmised was the one who called them, lest they think he had something to hide.

So he says to Nathan “Son, you called the police out here, now you need to tell them why you did that”.  Nathan proceeds to tell the policemen that his Daddy is being mean to him by threatening to take away the presents & cancel Christmas, to which Zoe fervently adds “Yeah, you can’t cancel Christmas! My Daddy’s not my boss; Nathan is my boss!” all the while she’s stomping up & down on the floor for emphasis.

The policemen could see the writing on the wall, so they wrapped up the report. Before leaving one of them says to Nathan “Now I’m not saying this should happen or this should not happen, but if I’d have done something like this at your age, I would’ve been spanked”! After they departed, Nadine’s husband called her & says “You won’t believe what just happened!” to which she frantically responds “Do I need to come home right now?” With a big sigh he says “No, the police already left”.

Needless to say, she was done shopping at that point & peeled tires out of the grocery store parking lot. When she had gotten home, they both had a long talk with their children about what calls to 911 were appropriate & what calls were not. I’m not sure if the third spanking came BEFORE or AFTER the talk, though!




“The Happy Hooker with a Twist”


While living in Chicago, I worked at a small nail salon that catered to an unusual mix of clientele. There were the

average 25 – 45 year old professional women, but then there was the “after hours crowd”. It was business as usual

to see a parade of drag queens, gay men, transexuals, transvestites, & cross dressers coming in to have their nails

done. The nail salon was owned by a gay man & a transexual woman (who was fooling no one – picture a man

dressed as Mrs. Roper from the old sitcom “Three’s Company”), but that’s another story! Anyway, this being the 80’s

meant that long nails were all the rage, plus lots of fabulous nail art & rhinestones, too.


One client in particular had extremely long acrylic nails. Try 5″ long! And they were pointed, not like the typical

square nail that was in fashion. Her name was “Lynnette Yvette ” & she was a transexual. Well, not completely. The

top half was woman, the bottom half was man. Even more bizarre was the fact that she was working her way

through college as a prostitute! Her goal was to one day graduate with a psychology degree & then complete the

surgery that would make her into a legitimate woman.


Now Lynnette was a very dark, black skinned  “girl” who always wore her hair in a tight, little pony tail, barely 2″

long. Why she didn’t wear a weave or some tracks or a wig, I’ll never understand. She lived as a woman, wore

makeup & clothes like a woman, plus got her nails done like a woman. She would regale us with stories of her

“johns” while we did her nails & some of the stories were quite shocking. Some involved police getting ‘freebies’ in

exchange for them not arresting her!  Some involved married men! All were very entertaining, though. We found

something else we had in common…… we both loved scary movies. So from time to time we’d meet up for a matinee

of the latest Freddy Krueger or Leatherface movie. I can only imagine what an odd pair we made as we walked

down the street……me being a short, naturally born white woman & Lynnette being the exact opposite!


One night friends & I were out at a club that was holding a “white party” (everything is swathed in white fabric &

attendees are supposed to dress in white) to benefit AIDS awareness when I ran into Lynnette, who was there with

her family. She introduced me to her daughter & her daughter’s children. It was so surreal! Everyone shook my

hand & we all talked for awhile, then parted ways. I was struck by how odd this scenario was. I mean, here Lynnette

used to be her daughters’ father, but now she’s her “mother”?  And how do you explain to the grandchildren that

grandpa is now your “grandma”? It was all very, very bizarre….. at least to me it was.


Lynnette finally did graduate with her psychology degree & was going to specialize in helping gay, lesbian, &

transgendered people. By chance one night we met again at a party where she introduced me to her older, Jewish

boyfriend, who looked extremely conservative & deceivingly straight. They definitely made another very odd couple,

with him being a short, balding, middle aged white dude who might have worked as either a psychiatrist or a college

professor & Lynnette being…….well……the exact opposite.


I don’t know if she ever got her desired surgery or not because I moved away, but judging by what else she

accomplished in life when she set her mind to it, I’m betting that she did make her dreams come true. The last time

I saw her she was riding on top of a float during the “Gay Pride” parade, while giving the pageant wave & flashing

her bright white smile. And her 5″ long gold, bejeweled nails were flashing, too!




“A Tale of Two Rivals”

“A Tale of Two Rivals”

Maria, a longtime client of mine, was getting her nails done one afternoon in my little nail room at the back of a busy salon. It was her day off & she had been cleaning house, running errands, etc., so she was dressed casual. In fact, she was wearing baggy sweats with an old t-shirt, no make-up & didn’t fix her hair. As her nails were drying I mentioned that my next client, Katrina, should be arriving shortly. Now Katrina is not a very common name, so Maria tentatively asked “By any chance is it Katrina Smith”? “Yes, do you know her?” I inquired. Then she said “That’s the bitch I caught cheating with my fiance’!”

Shocked is putting it mildly! I’d remembered Maria telling me a long time ago about how her fiance’ cheated on her & that’s why she wasn’t with her baby’s daddy, but I didn’t know the full story until then. Evidently this took place a decade ago when they were still in college. She said she was engaged to Carl when she found out she was pregnant & they were still planning to get married.

One night she went over to see Carl at the fraternity house where he was living & upon hauling her big, pregnant self up a long flight of stairs, she walks in on Katrina having sex on top of Carl! Maria bursts out crying, some words were said, & then she fled as fast as she could down the flight of steps. As she gets to the bottom, she looks back up to see Katrina standing at the top of the stairs, BUCK NAKED, with her hands on her hips, saying “Well what do you expect when you let yourself go like that”?

Stunned, Maria shouts back “I’m not fat, you stupid bitch, I’m pregnant”!  Needless to say, it was not a happy moment for everyone involved. Maria wound up marrying Carl to give the baby legitimacy, but then immediately had the marriage annulled after the birth. I don’t know what happened to Katrina after that point of the story. But for over the past year that I’d been doing Katrina’s nails, I had NO idea that she was “the other woman” until that day! I’d never scheduled both of them back to back, so their appointments never overlapped, & therefore each of them didn’t know that I did the others nails.

Just then the front door of the salon opened & we heard Katrina talking to one of the stylists out in the front room! Maria became distressed about her arch rival not only seeing her, but seeing her looking so slovenly & said “I can’t let her see me looking like this”! So I quickly snuck Maria out the back door of my nail room just before Katrina walked in to sit down at the nail table. Disaster was narrowly averted!

I did Katrina’s nails as usual that day & never let on that anything out of the ordinary had just happened, but I must admit that I thought differently of her after that. I couldn’t help but to wonder how she didn’t appear to be the sort of woman who was not to be trusted around other women’s husbands or boyfriends. Maybe she had regret for her past actions? We’ve all done stupid things & then experienced remorse, so possibly that bad situation helped shape her into the better human being that she appeared to be now? Or at least that’s what I hoped had happened.

Later that year Katrina married the nice man she’d been dating & they eventually wound up having a couple of children. Till the day she stopped coming to get her nails done, I never told her that I also did Maria’s nails, too……. even though it would’ve been interesting to hear her version of the story!




My client Lorena was a big dog lover & an even bigger supporter of our local Humane Society Animal Shelter. Both she & her husband were very much involved with many fundraisers for this no-kill shelter that’s devoted to rescuing abused or neglected animals.


So one day it came to pass that she heard of a dog which had been hit by a car & brought to the shelter. The dog was injured pretty badly & it looked like one of its legs may need to be amputated. Never mind the fact that Lorena already had 4 dogs of her own……she went down to the shelter & talked them into letting her “foster” the dog for a few days, just until it’s leg healed. She promised to take the dog to her vet for a second opinion concerning the injured leg & she even offered to pay that vet bill.


Upon bringing this new dog home, Lorena’s husband Don asked “Don’t we already have enough dogs?”, to which she told him that she wasn’t keeping it.  She explained she was only fostering the dog & she’d keep it out back behind the shed until someone came to claim it. Later that week Lorena noticed her husband looking at catalogues & web sites for riding lawnmowers. She mentioned that they already had a riding lawnmower & didn’t really need another one, to which he replied that he was only looking.


Weeks go by, the dogs’ leg heals so that it doesn’t need amputation & thankfully it only drags a little as it walks. Then Lorena comes home one day to discover a brand new $3000 riding lawnmower in her yard! “I thought we agreed that we weren’t getting a new riding lawnmower?” she says to her husband, who in turn replies “Oh, I’m not keeping it. I’m only fostering it. I’ll keep it out back behind the shed until someone comes to claim it.”


And so it came to be known as the $3000 dog. Ironically, a few months later they sold their house, bought a new one with a much smaller yard & the riding lawnmower got sold. But they still have all the dogs!






Ms. Vivienne was my oldest clients at 95 years young. Her daughter Dianne would bring her in once a month for a manicure/pedicure. Ms. Vivienne had the prettiest hair, which was always coiffed & held in place with a hair net. The color was snow white, with no tinges of yellow, while her eyes were a beautiful shade of azure blue. They reminded me of how blue the ocean waters were in Cancun & just as crystal clear. When I first met Ms. Vivienne (which that was a wild story for another time) her mind was still pretty sharp, but over the years she developed some senility.


The first time I became aware of the problem was during her manicure she  said she was leaving to go back home. As she put it, she “wore out her welcome” here with her daughter! Home for her was Iowa, but her daughter (who herself was in her 60’s) had moved her here to Kentucky in order to take care of her, in addition to taking care of her own wheelchair bound husband! Ms. Vivienne went into great detail about how she was going to take the train back home & stay awhile.


When her daughter came to pick her up I cheerfully asked if she was all packed for her big trip, assuming she would be going, too. That was when her daughter rolled her eyes, saying “Now Mother, you know you aren’t going back to Iowa. We told you that this wasn’t a good time”. Then I caught on to what she really meant. Every month after that when Ms. Vivienne came in, she’d tell me the story of her impending trip home & it would always go like this:

She’d be taking the train right after her nails were done & it should only take about 4 hours to get there (to Iowa!). Her father is a physician & her mother helps him in his office, but both of them could use her help, too. Remember, Ms. Vivienne was 95 years old, so it’s safe to assume that both her parents were long deceased. The train station was just a short walk from her house, but someone would be there to meet her. Usually it was the “constable” of the town, she’d tell me. He’d escort her home safely.

They have 2 women that help her mother around the house, one being a cook & the other a housekeeper. Her father makes house calls to sick people or women in labor & sometimes he’s gone all day. He’s delivered many, many babies over the years. Her brother would help tend to the garden, along with the gardener they employ, while she kept busy in her fathers office.

It never varied. I heard this story 1x per month for a few years.


I aways played along like I’d never heard any of this before, because to say anything contrary would only cause her confusion. I would ask the same questions at each visit & she’d get great pleasure from telling me about her life in Iowa. It reminded me of the Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day” where every day he wakes up on Groundhog Day & it’s the same day over & over & over again until he gets it right (whatever “it” is I cannot recall).


Back when Miss Vivienne’s mind was clearer I asked her what it was like living through the Great Depression. Every elderly person that lived through the Depression remembers how horrible it was & how they just barely scraped by. My own Aunt recalled how as kids they would chase the coal wagon down the street & take home chunks of fallen coal, later to be used to help heat the house. Aunt said they’d also chase the “ice man” down the street in the summer to pick up chunks of ice that fell from the wagon as it transported the big blocks of ice from house to house.


There wasn’t modern refrigeration back then, so each household would buy whatever size chunk of ice they’d need to put into their “ice box” to keep their food from spoiling. Since there was no such thing as an ice cream man to make the rounds back in the day, these ice chips were wiped off & the kids sucked on them to keep cool in the summer! It’s hard to imagine now. We who are living through the “Great Recession” need to stop being such whiny little tittie-babies. So cry a little…..”waaahh, you can’t find a job that you like”. These people couldn’t find FOOD!


Typically during the Depression families conserved what they had, reused & repurposed things without throwing anything away, sewed their own clothes, baked their own bread, grew their own vegetable gardens, bartered livestock, & generally did what they had to do in order to survive. It was a very lean & scary time not remembered with fondness. My Grandfather told us of how he “jumped a train” (I presume hobo style) to go find work in Chicago. He left my Grandmother behind in PA. to care for the children & house, sending money to do so until times got better & he returned. I wish I’d had the presence of mind to ask what kind of work he did, how long he was there, where he stayed, etc. & wrote it down when I had the chance. But they’re long gone now, so that part of their history we’ll never know. Take note, young folk! Document your kin’s stories NOW while you can!


Anyway, Ms. Vivienne’s Great Depression experience was like none I’d ever heard. She truly did not remember going without. Her physician father provided amply for her, her brother & their mother. The 2 siblings had no chores, either. Instead she recalls having music lessons & recitals. Her mother didn’t have to really do much around the house, since they had the cook & the housekeeper. She mostly ran her husbands office & kept the files. This was a very, very interesting view of the world from what I assume was a small minority of privileged people & I was fascinated by it!


You could tell that Ms. Vivienne was well cared for just by looking at her. Her skin, although wrinkled, was still porcelain & believe it or not she still had most all of her own teeth! No false teeth or bridges! Her brother had long been gone, as well as her husband, but I don’t know those details. When I once asked her questions about her husband she couldn’t really recall him, so I changed the subject before I distressed her. I only wanted her to remember the happy times whenever she saw me.


On one visit Ms. Vivienne told me that something bad had happened. This was out of the normal “Groundhog Day” routine visit for us, so I asked what it was. She looked upset & whispered to me that her whole family was dead! Her mother, her father, & her brother, but she couldn’t remember what had happened or how they died. I pretty much figured out that she must’ve been pestering her daughter about going home to Iowa & her daughter in frustration finally snapped & told her that there was no more family there for her, nor the house in which she grew up in. It was a sad moment, but thankfully it never happened again.


It was always a joy to see Ms. Vivienne, but every month around the time when she was due for a visit, I’d anticipate that dreaded phone call from her daughter informing me that she’d died & each month when it didn’t happen would be such a relief.  I really cherished her visits because she was so sweet & kind, even when we’d talk about the same things over & over & over again!


Finally it just got increasingly too hard to get Ms. Vivienne up to the 2nd floor location of my salon. Her daughter would slowly walk up the steps behind Ms. Vivienne, one step at a time, using her hands to half push, half guide her Mom’s rear end up the steep steps (about 15 of them)! Then I’d stand at the top of the stairs encouraging her to keep going. The whole process would take about 15 minutes! Then we’d guide her over to the chair to get her nails done first, after which her toes. Between services I’d always take a restroom break while she was soaking in the pedi tub & I’d pray that she wouldn’t die in the 3 minutes while I was gone!


We had to call it quits when Vs. Vivienne developed bursitis in her hips, but I’d call her every so often….like on her birthday & holidays. The last time I spoke to her, her daughter said she wouldn’t remember me because her mind was too far gone, but to speak loud because her hearing was feeble now, too. So there I was cheerfully yelling into the phone & trying to engage her in conversation. She sounded very happy, but I don’t know if she recognized my voice or not. That was the last time I ever spoke to her.


Later the next year I bumped into her daughter in the grocery store & she told me that Ms. Vivienne had passed away around Thanksgiving. I think she was around 96 or 97 years old by then. I immediately teared up & almost started crying right there in the pharmacy section! Ms. Vivienne will always have a good place in my heart & it makes me happy that I could tell her story. Easter always makes me think of my own Grandparents, so I guess that’s why Ms. Vivienne came to mind today.









One day a client told me that her mother had been in a horrible car wreck up in Chicago & that she’d have to take a leave of absence from work to go
take care of her. She went into great detail about the wreck, how bad it was,
& how horribly injured her mother was. It sounded positively horrific!

Now this lady had been getting her nails done faithfully every 2 weeks for about 2 years & I felt terrible for her! We agreed that I’d take her off my appointment book for the remaining 2 months of the year while she tended to her ailing mother. She never asked me to take off her artificial nails & I never asked what she planned to do about them. I wished her & her poor mother well as she left the salon.

As time went by, I periodically thought about her & hoped her mom was ok. One night about 3 months later, while I was doing the nails of 2 clients who both worked with this other lady, her name came up in the conversation. So while my clients nails were drying I thought I’d give her a quick call to see how her mother was getting along. Turning my back to my 2 clients sitting at my nail table, I dialed the phone on the wall. I fully expected her husband to answer, or the machine to pick up, since she probably would still be in Chicago nursing her mother back to health.

Her husband did answer the phone & so I identified myself as his wife’s nail tech.  Upon inquiring gravely (with that low voice we all use when we’re not really expecting a good answer) “How’s your mother-in-law getting along?” he cheerfully replied “Oh, she’s fine”!  It seemed strange for him to sound so chipper about it, but I didn’t have time to ponder this any longer because he informed me that his wife was standing right beside him & would I like to talk to her?

Right about THEN was when it hit me that her whole story had been a lie! I could feel my face start to flush from the embarrassment of the situation, & in the back of my mind I was acutely aware that my 2 clients drying their nails had suddenly become very, very quiet. It was an awkward situation for both of us, because when she was thrust onto the phone by her unknowing husband, she was caught totally off guard & didn’t have a good lie in place.

She began ad-libbing about how her mother was still recovering & that she needed to go back to Chicago tomorrow. She babbled on a bit more & I could feel the heat spreading from my neck up to my face & even to the top of my head. I was SO embarrassed I could’ve just died! I told her that I understood & that she could call me whenever her life settled back down, but it was obvious to the both of us that SHE knew, that I knew, that SHE was lying! I was beyond mortified & my face was still burning red when I hung up the phone.

My 2 clients who were sitting there quietly drying their nails had overheard my end of the conversation & had figured out what the deal was. They then informed me that she had NOT been away on a leave of absence & had in fact been here in town working the entire time! They had been unaware of the big fabrication that she had told me in the first place, but since the cat was already out of the bag I just went ahead & filled them in on her car wreck story.

Needless to say, they were duly appalled. They then told me that she had a reputation around work for being a liar ever since the time a few years ago when she had told coworkers that she had breast cancer. One by one they started comparing notes & noticed that she never took time off to go to the doctor, never got chemo or radiation, & mysteriously she was still healthy, with both her breasts intact (presumably).

I’d never experienced anything quite like this before, so I was stunned. Clients usually say they just “want to let their nails breathe” or some other fluff when they want to take a break from the nail services I provide. It’s no big deal & I always make sure they know that it’s ok & that they’re always welcome back any time. I try to make the potentially awkward parting scene less dramatic than what the clients must think it will be. What are they expecting……tears, accusations, & me hurling objects across the room at them as they flee out the door?

PUH-LEASE! I’ve been doing nails WAY too long to ever take it personally. As for the liar, I never spoke to or saw this woman again. The only thing I could figure was that she must’ve wanted to take off her artificial nails & didn’t know how to tell me. Or maybe she was crazy. But more than likely she was just a compulsive liar. I’ll never know for sure. But the moral of the story is ALWAYS be truthful to your nail tech because we have ways of finding you out, even when we don’t try!

Besides, we’re big girls (& boys). We can take it.


aka: “She Was a Stalker, When Stalking Wasn’t Cool”

When I lived in Chicago I had a client we’ll call Pat, who was a twenty-something, pretty little blonde with a good figure, a great job, plus she drove a new convertible & generally seemed to have life by the tail. She’d tell me about this new boyfriend, then that new boyfriend, & then she’d have another new boyfriend by the next time I’d see her for her nail appointment. Pretty soon I saw the pattern.

She’d cling to her new boyfriend tighter than tree bark until she drove him away, which usually only took a few weeks. So I, having had no boyfriend for well over a year & was perfectly content, couldn’t understand WHY she needed one so desperately? Eventually I came to the conclusion that between the two of us, I had the better life.

One day she came in to the salon & it was evident that she’d just experienced another break up. This particular guy she had met at her gym & they immediately jumped into a hot & heavy relationship. She previously confided to me that she had begun to sense that he was pulling away. “No duh”, I thought, but did not say. She then told me that she had hidden in wait outside the gym for him to leave so she could follow him.  She already suspected that he was seeing another woman, but needed to know for sure. Evidently, her suspicions were confirmed when she saw him greet another woman outside the gym.  The two of them began to walk down the sidewalk together, hand in hand!

So she continued to follow them at a distance until they entered an apartment building. According to Pat, she waited for them to get into the elevator. She then saw which floor the elevator came to a stop. She went up the elevator & got off on that same floor. Now I’m thinking “how in the world will she know which apartment door they entered?”.  She informed me that she recognized his shoes on the door mat in front of this particular apartment (NOTE* if you are going to cheat, bring your shoes inside).

She didn’t knock, but instead tried the door knob. Bizarre enough, it was unlocked (2nd NOTE* if you are going to cheat, lock the door behind you)! The apartment was dimly lit, but she quietly entered anyway. At this point in her story I’m wondering if she’s not only foolish, but mentally unstable as well! For God’s sake, she could’ve been shot as an intruder!

She then made her way to the bedroom & quietly pushed open the door. The room was dark, but the distinct sounds of love-making were audible. She flipped on the light & that’s when all hell broke loose! The woman in the bed let out a scream. The boyfriend saw that it was Pat & began to cuss her out. The two lovers scrambled to cover themselves with sheets, while the screaming & cursing back & forth escalated. At that moment Pat decided to quickly leave. She never did say EXACTLY what the ex-boyfriend said, but we can pretty much assume that it went along the lines of how he probably never wanted to see her again. Knowing Pat, I’m certain that she had the nerve to keep up her gym membership!

Another thing that I remember about Pat was how she always had me polish the underside of her long, acrylic nails. What a mess that was to try to clean out! She was the only client EVER to request this. And she liked to wear hot pink polish. I wonder what Freud would say about that?





Upon graduating from cosmetology school in 1987, I began my journey into the beauty world. I quickly found out that it could also be an ugly world, too. I started out doing hair at a salon in the local mall & the manager was a woman whose name has been lost to the sands of time (at least in my memory it has). She was at least twice my age, which at that time I was in my early twenties, & she was very strange. She was as Seinfeld described in one well-known episode, “a close talker”.

That means as she engaged you in conversation, she would stand inches from your body……thusly her face would be inches from your face. She had no concept of personal space whatsoever. My co-workers & I lived in mortal fear that she would “slip us the tongue”, as one stylist so eloquently put it. She did other bizarre things, too. She’d make us save the unused portion of the perm solution (along with the neutralizer) after each client. We were told to stick a pin into the tip of each bottle & then this leftover solution was to be used on the next unsuspecting client. That could be hours or that could be days later! Needless to say, we had a lot of complaints & “re-do’s” when the perms didn’t take.

After suffering enough of this woman, I decided to quit. The higher ups at the beauty school (of which I was still attending to get my instructors license) encouraged me to ‘do the professional thing’ by giving 2 weeks notice. And so I did. The manager took it well; no problems that I could see on my horizon & so the count down to my final day began.

2 weeks later at the end of my last shift, as I was packing up my gear, the manager became extremely agitated & said some things to me. I can’t recall exactly what, but it definitely wasn’t “I wish you the best of luck in your new venture”. We were the only two people in the salon since the mall was closing, the other stylists had already left, all the storefront gates were down, & the shoppers had gone home.

Looking back, I’m surprised that security didn’t come running. One word led to another & before long both of our voices got very, very loud. She’d purposely cornered me when we were alone so she could unleash her frustrations! We’ve all been there…..the place where suddenly you find yourself embroiled in a situation not of your making, but then afterwards you can’t recall how or what got said to start it?

But this 1 thing I’ll always remember, because it cut me to the quick (a little nail humor, pun intended). She said “You don’t have what it takes to make it in this business!”.

I left out the back door & never saw her again. Being the way I am, when someone tells me I can’t achieve something, that makes me determined to accomplish it all the more. But sometimes the doubt that each of us has inside would sometimes peck at me like a buzzard on roadkill……..”what if she’s right?”……. “what if I don’t have what it takes to make it in this business?”

I went to work elsewhere & it didn’t take too long before we heard the news. With her bad business practices, questionable accounting, & sunny personality, she managed to drive the salon into the ground & it closed. I don’t know where she went to work after that fiasco. A few months later I’d heard through the grapevine that she had cancer. Now I wouldn’t wish that on anybody, seriously.

I never heard anything more about “The Close Talker” after that. Fact is, I couldn’t pick her out of a lineup because I’ve forgotten most everything about her……except for that 1 thing she said….. which could’ve easily driven another newbie right out of the business. Maybe she regretted her actions, but I’ll never know. Oddly enough, I’m still in the beauty industry some 25+ years later!




Yesterday was the memorial service for my friend Debbie & to add to the mood, it was overcast & raining. The parking lot of the funeral home could not even accommodate all the cars, with many of us parking behind it in the cemetery. As I stood in the long line waiting to get inside, I realized like a big goober I’d forgotten to bring tissues. The line flowed out of the funeral home doors & snaked its way into the parking lot, so I wasn’t about to run back to the car for the stash of fast food napkins in my console.

Once inside I was lucky to have gotten a seat, which ran out 1 row behind me. There wasn’t enough room to bring in more chairs, so about 25-30 people were lined up against the walls; it was standing room only. I knew people would come out of the woodwork for this, because Debbie was 1 in a million. From where I sat, I could see Debbie’s daughter sitting with her husband’s arm around her, & it hardly seemed real that less than 3 years ago we were celebrating Jenny’s outdoor wedding…… in the rain….like today. That certainly was a day to remember, but a story for another time.

Like the minister said as he looked around the packed room, “It was a testament to a life well lived” & that Debbie was “larger than life”. He was SO right. Turns out the girl sitting beside me was another goober & during the service we both had to use our hands to wipe away tears as they streamed down our faces. Neither of us dared to bow our heads too deep in prayer, lest our noses run. Debbie definitely would’ve found that funny, so I didn’t feel guilty. There’s no doubt in my mind that she’s in heaven & we will see each other again some day.

I’d known Debbie from the mid-90’s when I’d first moved here & we saw each other every 2 weeks for over 15 years. We both had grown up in the military & we bonded instantly. Debbie had moved here from Alabama & had lived less than 2 hours from where my sister lives today. I’d watched her 2 kids grow up, did many prom nails, then wedding nails, & we became more friends than client/tech. We did lunches, we did Garden Club together, & helped each other fundraise for our charities. Debbie had lost her mom to breast cancer when she was younger, so the American Cancer Society was her charity & she even sat on the board of our local chapter. At least Debbie went quickly from an aneurism & avoided the cancer fate.

Debbie was involved with so many other clubs & had a vast network of friends who loved her that if every one of them had shown up for her memorial service, it would’ve had to be held outside in the amphitheater up at WKU. I’ve always found it to be odd that when someone dies, they are suddenly elevated to sainthood status by friends & especially family. All of a sudden when their life is snuffed out they instantly become this wonderful, great person to be admired, when most of the time you knew them they were at the very least, a pill to take & at the most, a big butthole. And as you sit there listening to them eulogize about how fantastic & Godly this person was, you begin to wonder…….”Am I at the right funeral?”

That could never be said about Debbie, because everyone who came into contact with her instantly loved her. She always had a smile on her face for everyone. I’d see her through the window as she walked across the parking lot wearing her white shorts & T-shirt (Debbie had great legs & with her tan looked good in white). She’d saunter into the salon her usual 5 minutes late, open the door, & smiling say “Whaaazzuuuup?”  Even when her nails were treacherously bad, I never dreaded seeing Debbie. She was truly such a kind, caring, honest, decent, fun loving, compassionate woman, with a great sense of humor & a deep love for her family & friends. At only 53 yrs. old when she left us, I always thought we’d be friends till we were both withered little prunes (her faster than me, because she loved to tan by the pool).

I’d wanted to start this blog out with a different funny story, but the timing didn’t turn out right. So in honor of Debbie, I’ll split the difference & share one of my favorite funny Debbie stories…..& she won’t mind if I use her real name.

The Dog-napping Incident”

When Debbie’s young brother-in-law & his wife Brandy moved here, they lived for a time at Debbie’s house, which was a huge Parade-of-Homes house (grand homes built especially to showcase builder’s & interior designers talents, which tickets are then sold to the public to tour them one weekend & proceeds go to the local builder’s association). Brandy & her husband were in the process of putting a bid on a house when they decided to adopt a dog. This particular dog had been found as a stray & the woman who found it was trying to find it a good home.

For some reason, this person’s friend basically organized the adoption process & created a form for would-be owners to fill out. This person required that the new owners keep the dog indoors & not make it an outdoor farm dog, etc. etc. Very elaborate hoops to jump through with filling out this form. Remember now….this was a mixed breed mutt that no one wanted….not a pure bred show dog, plus she wasn’t even the one who’d found the dog. So being young & confident in their house bid, they listed that address on the form as their place of residence. They must’ve passed all the other stringent requirements because they were allowed to adopt the dog, which they named “Gypsy”.

As unfortunately happens sometimes, their bid fell through on the house, so Gypsy had temporary lodgings with Debbie’s other dogs…..all which were housed in a dog pen at the back of Debbie’s property. A few days later Debbie gets a frantic call from her daughter, who was a young teen at the time & was home alone that day. She said an angry woman came to the door demanding to see the dog & when she found out that Gypsy was in the backyard pen, she stormed around the house, across the backyard, opened the pen, snatched up Gypsy, & drove away!

The woman said that they had violated their agreement to keep this dog inside the house, so she was taking the dog back! Jenny was so upset, then so was Debbie, & when Brandy found out, she was crying & upset, too. Debbie called the woman who originally placed the ad in the paper to find out what was going on, but the woman had no idea either. All they could surmise was that this friend of hers who’d orchestrated the adoption process must’ve gone to the address Brandy had listed on the form & saw a big “For Sale” sign in the yard. Then she went to Debbie’s home because they were listed as a reference.

They tried to get the woman to return Gypsy by explaining the situation of the dogs’ temporary lodgings, plus assure her that Brandy did indeed plan to make Gypsy a house dog, but the woman wouldn’t listen to reason & was planning to adopt the dog out again! Now at this point in time, Debbie worked at a law office & was on familiar terms with many influential people in town. So in short turn, there sits Debbie & Brandy in the office of the county prosecuting attorney, explaining their situation to him!

By now the woman had disappeared with Gypsy, stating that she’d never give them the dog & the woman’s own husband couldn’t even talk her into being reasonable! After listening to their story, the county prosecuting attorney asks Brandy “Can you tell me what is so special about this dog that you can’t just go adopt another one?”. As Brandy starts listing all of Gypsy’s attributes, such as “she’s a good dog”, “she’s so sweet”, and so forth….she suddenly bursts into tears & wails “She’s OUR Gyyyyypsyyyyy & weeeee just love hhheeeeeerrrr!” …..as Debbie consoles a sobbing Brandy while from across the desk the man gets this stricken look on his face.

That did it. The county attorney immediately picked up the phone & called the original woman who’d placed the ad (her friend was still on the lam with the dog & was in hiding). He told her to relay the message that if Gypsy was not returned to a designated meeting place by such & such time the next morning……a warrant would be sworn out for her arrest for theft & the sheriff would take her to jail in handcuffs!

Gypsy was returned the following morning as scheduled & was happily reunited with her family, who soon after that successfully bought a house. Ultimately Gypsy became an indoor dog as planned, Brandy eventually had a baby boy, & Gypsy was well cared for the rest of her days.

Moral of the story: do not mess with a woman who works for attorneys.


Debbie & Jenny – “Roll Tide”.


Debbie & Jenny- before the rain.


Debbie- as I always will remember her….animatedly telling me another story.