“An Apple a Day Does Not Keep the Doctor Away”

While I was working on my nurse anesthetist client’s nails one day, I happened to ask her if she’d had any unusual cases lately. She replied “Well, there was one”. Then she told me about the time a prominant business man in our community (she did NOT name names & I didn’t ask, but I’d have LOVED to known who he was) came into the hospital with an apple up his butt!

Of course, at this point I am cracking up & asking all kinds of questions, like “What kind of apple was it?”, “How big of an apple was it?” & the #1 question everyone reading this is asking themselves………..”How on earth did it get up there?”. I can’t recall if it was a Red Delicious apple or what, but I do remember that she said he gave no excuse as to how it got in there, but it was your average sized apple. She said most people make up some kind of lame excuse to explain away the fact that this is bizarre behavior, but this particular man offered up no explanation.

They immediately had to do a procedure called an “extraction”, which probably is as unpleasant as it sounds. The man was given some sort of anesthesia or sedative & then just like a woman having a gynecology exam, his feet were placed in stirrups as he laid flat on his back on the O.R. table. The doctor then used various tools to widen the anus & removed the apple.

As I’ve learned from my client, this is not a totally uncommon occurrence. Evidently there’s a segment of the population that enjoys putting foreign objects into their rectums. Personally, I cannot imagine why. But that episode of “Jackass the Movie” comes to mind…….the one where Ryan Dunn puts a Hot Wheels car in a condom & inserts it into his own butt, then films the reaction of the clinic staff when the toy car shows up on his x-rays!

Anyway, after the procedure was finished the man left the hospital (without the apple, I believe). She said for days after that  incident, some of the hospital professionals with wry senses of humor began leaving apples on coworkers stations when their backs were turned. Talk about a gag gift (pun intended)! It’s still one of the most hilarious stories I’ve ever heard at the nail table. To this day I cannot fathom:

1) how exactly this man got the apple up there?

2) why an apple was chosen over other fruits (such as a banana, which would seem to insert easier due to it’s phallic shape, for instance)?

3) what the man thought the outcome would be?

All I can figure is that maybe he was into humiliation, otherwise why else didn’t he drive to a different town where nobody knew him so he could avoid the public embarrassment? On second thought, maybe he couldn’t sit in his car for a longer drive with that apple up his butt!



The Recovering Alcoholic & the Nail Competition

“The Recovering Alcoholic & the Nail Competition”


Candy was a good hearted ‘biker chick’ kind of a woman, in her thirties, with a good figure & a short blonde bob when I first started doing her nails. She was the type of person that people, especially men, would take advantage of because she had the need to please everybody & a heart of gold. Alcoholism was unfamiliar to me at that time & I’d never actually thought much about it before then. One night Candy came in to get her nails done & by the way she was slurring her words, it soon was evident that she had been drinking.



After her nails were finished, she stumbled around the salon looking at polish & other boutique items. By the look in my eyes the 2 owners could tell that I didn’t know how to handle the situation, so they both stepped in & directed her out the door. It was done in a friendly, but forceful, manner & since she wasn’t a mean drunk she happily went out into the night. A short while later I discovered that a bottle of polish was missing from the display case & we all knew where it went. The owners said they’d handle it & that was that.


About 2 weeks later when Candy came in (thankfully sober) the owners took her aside after her nails were done & told her what had transpired on her last visit. She was embarrassed & was more than willing to make restitution, so all was good. Many months went by & I didn’t think any more about it. Whenever Candy came in we always talked, laughed & had a good time at her appointments. Then I decided to enter into a nail art competition at the Midwest Beauty Show (now called America’s Beauty Show aka ABS), which would require much practice & the need for a hand model. Candy had great nails so I asked her if she’d like to be my model for that day & she was more than happy to do it.


On the day of the competition I picked Candy up in front of the salon & we drove out to where the show was held. It’s a pretty big show, with thousands of licensed beauty attendees & professional hair, skin & nail companies holding classes & demos going on at the hundreds of booths. Every beauty professional who’s worth anything goes to this show at least once in their career. It’s a place to see & be seen, plus make new business contacts, so you want to be at your best.


The competition went forward & it took several hours to complete. Models have to sit patiently & quietly while competitors work on their nails….which means, no eating, drinking or smoking, too. This category I’d entered was for flat nail art, which meant I had to paint tiny little scenes with acrylic paint on each of Candy’s 10 fingernails. Our models could only leave when the judges were totalling up the scorecards, so at that point Candy went out into the lobby to have a smoke (yes, they allowed smoking in the lobbies back in early 90’s) while I remained inside the competition room.


It took another half hour or so to finish all the judging & I didn’t win or place, which was disappointing. When I walked out into the lobby, the first thing I saw was Candy sitting on the edge of a big easy chair with her feet propped up on the coffee table. Since she was wearing a black leather mini skirt, sitting in this position made it possible for EVERYONE in the room to see her white panties! There was a grouping of 3 other easy chairs surrounding this glass coffee table, the kind of arrangement you’d see in a hotel lobby, & I was MORTIFIED to see all the surrounding chairs were taken by other beauty professionals……all of whom were seemingly enthralled by the scene that was unfolding!


Some stylists were even sitting on the arms of the chairs while Candy held court with a cigarette in one hand & a cocktail in the other. Unbeknownst to me, there was a cash bar at the end of the lobby & Candy had been drinking the entire time I was inside for the judging process! Inside my mind was screaming “OH, NOOOO!” as I rushed up to Candy to try to hustle her out of the building, fearful of what she’d already said to my peers.


The story she was telling was every bit as trashy as I’d feared. I walked in on the part where she was telling everyone how some guy she knew pulled a gun on her & she was waving her hand around as if she were holding a gun & pointing it at people, while ashes were spilling onto the carpeted floor from her lit cigarette. I can’t recall the rest of the story because my mind blanked out, but she insisted on telling it even though I tried repeatedly to get her to leave. I just wanted the floor to open up & swallow me at that point; I could’ve just died!


I still remember the look on the other professionals faces though. One guy looked away, as if to find a quick exit. Some of the other women had looks of “you poor creature” or “thank God I’m not you” on their faces. One girl’s expression was akin to the look you’d have if you just stepped in dog poo while wearing your best shoes. I felt like crawling out of there; I was so beyond embarrassed.


I finally managed to get Candy out of the building & back to the car, but then on the drive home she began freaking out about how her boyfriend was going to be mad at her for falling off the wagon. She would not let me drop her off at her car until she had some coffee, so we drove through a fast food place & she slowly started to sober up. Very slowly.  Too slowly for me. We got back to the salon, but she still insisted I drive her around until she was completely sober, so around & around the block we drove for the better part of an hour.


Finally I got her out of my car & sped off, not looking back. At the time I was so upset I really didn’t care if her boyfriend beat her butt because that’s what I felt like doing to her myself! I could not get away from her fast enough. The more I thought about it, the more pissed off I was. All I could say at the time was thank heavens none of those beauty professionals knew me! After that incident, I didn’t see her for a long time, which was fine by me. The sooner I forgot the whole sordid mess, the better.


Several months passed & Candy finally showed up to get her nails done. I acted as if nothing happened, but knew I’d never go out in public with her again. She had gotten back into AA, gotten rid of her abusive boyfriend & seemed to be doing better. She was trying to keep away from all of her bad influence friends & that was hard on her. Finally she met a decent man who was also in AA recovery & they started seeing each other. She said he treated her really nice & I was genuinely happy for her. We took up doing her nails just like old times where we laughed & had fun conversations.


Months later Candy & her boyfriend got into an argument & they didn’t speak for a few days. She was determined that he would make the first phone call to apologize. After about 4 days she got word that the police found him dead in his apartment. He’d died of a massive heart attack on Mother’s Day & laid there until his work reported him missing. Candy was emotionally devastated & fell off the wagon. Some people it seems just never catch a break.


A short while later I moved out of state & never saw her again. I think about Candy from time to time, especially around Mother’s Day & I hope that she’s okay. It’s like an ongoing mystery, which could either have a good ending or a bad ending. I prefer not to know for certain, but I like to think in positive terms.





“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?