Ok, I had no IDEA that 90 minutes at the nail salon could really, truly generate a blog post, especially if you’re not particularly funny, like myself, but LO, it has.
To set the scene for you- I go to a nail salon on the edge of Orange County, in Seal Beach, which is a tiny beach community that fancies itself a quainter Huntington Beach. A ramshackle mini-cottage a couple of miles from the beach will run you somewhere in the low $600Ks, and on up from there, if things like, say, indoor plumbing are important to you. So you can imagine the clientele of a nail shop on Main Street, almost exclusively tall, skinny, and blonde. I say almost because, well, I go there, and I also occasionally run into burly dudes getting mani-pedis, clearly the ones they get every week.
The nail technicians there have all been instructed (is my guess, I don’t actually KNOW) to pick Western names, presumably for the ease of the clients, so I get my nails done by Karen, a tiny Vietnamese woman with a limited grasp of English. On the one hand, I get it- I am sure it’s easier for her to be “Karen,” but on the other hand, can’t white people get it together enough to realize not everyone is required to have a name that’s easy to pronounce?
I sit at Karen’s station, where we exchange niceties about our holidays, leading to the following:
Me: I went to Mexico for a week between Christmas and New Year’s.
Karen: With your husband?
Me: No, with my wife.
Me: (think fast, because this woman has a drill bit dangerously close to my eyes) …and with our baby?
Karen: Ohhh, congratulations!
I think this is my first documented experience where actually announcing my pregnancy has in fact SAVED me from an uncomfortable situation, rather than plunging me further into one.
All the nail technicians at this salon speak amongst themselves in Vietnamese, and it’s not unusual for another technician to come over and chat with Karen while she does my nails, and I stare off into space, thinking, most likely, about something to eat, or peeing, as those are my current two options, in terms of thinking.
I seriously always assumed that the nail techs didn’t REALLY talk about the clients, RIGHT THERE IN THEIR FACES- that that was a nasty rumor and that of course no one would hide behind a non-understood native tongue to discuss someone that was sitting RIGHT THERE, thinking about cheesecake, or whatever.
Until the visiting nail tech, who I have never met, nor addressed a single word to, turns to me and says, “So, four months along? Do you know if it’s a girl or a boy?”
You know how in cartoons, like the Roadrunner, for example, the Coyote will see something totally incredible, or awesome, or scary, and the cartoonist will depict this by having his eyeballs shoot out several inches in front of his eye sockets, tethered only by the optic nerve? Yeah. That.
I recovered enough to have a nice conversation with her and Karen about how cute baby clothes are, but DAMN. I left a $10 tip because if they’re going to talk about me while I’m sitting there, they better be saying shit like “she’s a good tipper” instead of “girl doesn’t look pregnant, just FAT” even if it is in a language I don’t understand.
Moral: watch your mouth at the nail salon, or learn Vietnamese.