Nail Sports

September 29, 2006 at 5:43 am (Uncategorized)

It was my birthday last Tuesday, and I decided to treat myself to a manicure/pedicure combo. During my lunch hour, I legged it up to Greenwood Plaza, which is in North Sydney, Australia, and walked into one of those nail bars that have cropped up in every second shopfront in Sydney over the past couple of years. These places are easy to spot because they’re brightly lit, generally all-white, scrupulously tidy, and universally manned by extremely efficient, tiny Asian women. This outlet was no exception. I dutifully chose my colours (natural for my hands, and some kind of blood cherry red for my toes) and settled into the foot spa whilst two of these pocket dynamos went to work on me.

There’s never a lot of conversation during these treatments. This time, the ladies bantered among themselves in their native tongue. Every so often, one or the other would relay a comment to me in English. At one point, one of the ladies watched a departing customer, scrunched up her face into a look of total disgust, and said something in what I think was Korean to one of the other girls. I thought to myself “That customer must have really smelly feet.” I was about to congratulate myself on my fearsome powers of deduction when the other lady turned to me and said “She said it’s so hot out there today.” Well, quite right, it was.

Then came the foot scraper. I go into uncontrollable hysterics every time I get a pedicure, because that thing that they use to scrape the bottom of my feet might as well be a feather scientifically engineered to give a better tickle. Peals and peals of my own laughter interrupted the otherwise completely hushed environment. The girl in the chair next to me started laughing at my laughter, and the two beauticians exchanged polite smiles tinged with growing alarm. Had I gone mad? They didn’t seem to discount the possibility.

Exhausted, my fit of the giggles finally subsiding, I was guided, along with my pedicure pal in the next seat, to the ultraviolet drying area. Because I had a manicure AND a pedicure, I might as well have been tied up for all the freedom of movement I possessed. The pile of magazines helpfully displayed at eye level seemed to taunt me. What was I supposed to do? Turn the pages with my teeth? But then my pedicure pal saved the day and made this an all-time favourite afternoon of nail sports. Her hands free, she selected a cool magazine, set it down between us, and started to slowly turn the pages. It wasn’t long before the banter was flowing: “I love her”; “Look at her hair, it’s fabulous”; “Do you think she’s better as a blonde or brunette?”; “I can’t believe they broke up.” Naturally we were in agreement on EVERYTHING, every detail, every little piece of glossy minutiae. Our heads were bent right over the mag, and we were as intently focused on our task as two girls dressing dolls.

Eventually, happy, amused, sated, we realised our nails were dry and we were free to return to our own lives. My pedicure pal gave me a big smile, a wave, and walked out into that stinking hot afternoon calling out “Happy birthday!” – and without a doubt, my hour settled in there in nail Narnia was one of the highlights of my day.


  1. Sarah said,

    And I thought it was just me who reacts that way to the whole foot scraper business!! I like the Narnia nodd to Chris W too. Next time I am SO there! x

  2. doctordi said,

    It was more a nod to you, actually – I think we’ve appropriated that term for our own use by now, don’t you?!

  3. The nail man said,

    One of my favourite scenes in the movie Syriani is the manicure that George Clooney receives from the hezbollah. Now that’s Nail Sport.

  4. doctordi said,

    I had to look away. His corns were out of control.

  5. Brett said,

    Yes! Take it global Di…looking forward to your coverage of Mardi Gras.

    Small query in the meantime: natural fingers but ruby toes. Aren’t the curtains supposed to match the carpeting? Or is that some anachronistic 50s affectation?

    Inquiring minds want to know.


  6. doctordi said,

    Brettle, I have never put colour varnish on my fingernails. It’s all a little gauche-seeming for one who doesn’t even have her ears pierced. It’s just not me. I can’t help it. I always think “lady of the night” whenever I see those clickety-clack red nails strumming on a counter top just LOOKING all scandalous and wanton (not to mention impatient and a dead cert for a queue jump). I’m thinking 50s affectation – I don’t see the need to come over all matchy-matchy – go crazy, mix it up, people!

    As for my poor, poor toenails, they’re so bruised and battered from running I chose the sort of bloody colour because it best reflects what’s going on BENEATH the nail. My right big toe, for instance, is about to be sans nail altogether – I’m just hoping it stays put until this day is over, when I have to take my hanging-by-a-thread-of-skin disgusting running toenails out in public. The horror, the horror….

  7. Jacob said,

    Well well well.
    As the total body of doctors is of constant size – you becomming one balances my leaving the trade.
    Interestingly enough, I treated myself to a facial treatment yesterday. Well, catually, my wife pushed me. I followed.
    It was a young girl, very silent, a bit clumsy, and a poor poor sales rep for her make up/skin hygiene products firm (Decleor, of France. Thats in europe).
    I never went before. I will never go again. It was like going to the dentist, only this time with a facial mask. The girl never really looked at me, it was like she wasnt really there. The ordeal did take place after hours in a private basement disguised as a beaty parlor. I guess she has a day job, and cleans the faces of unfamiliar faces in the evening. No wonder she was absent.
    I was treated with aromescent oils, facial masks and (geesh) digitopresssure, apparently a japanese word for pressing her thumb against my face. And then, at the zenith of the whole thing; the deep treatment. She gently and very painfully removed all blackheads. Ill take the arab manicure any day.
    Ten, after having been left in a darkened room on a heated blanket, I was released. After the compulsory purchase of several overprized products “especially for men with my skintype” (whatever that is. Actually I bought a soap and an aftershave because I felt sorry for her. What a lousy lousy salesperson. Had it not been for her dark blue oceanlike eyes that pierced my soul, I definetely wouldnt have bought anything.

  8. doctordi said,

    What do you mean you’re leaving the trade??!! I thought you were specialising? Please explain. That whole description of the basement is one of the creepiest things I’ve read in a while, Jacob. It sounds more like Silence of the Lambs than a beauty treatment. I wouldn’t go again either. It sounds like something the authorities should know about. Maybe the bodies of difficult customers are under the floorboards.

  9. Surely This Means Cake? « DoctorDi said,

    […] to everyone in my Yahoo address book, and 157 views were recorded that day for my very first post, Nail Sports. I came close a couple of weeks ago to toppling that record, but I just missed out. It bugs me that […]

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