Over and over, I fall for the allure of a manicure and the thought that, this time, my nails will look good. I’ve always wanted them: elegant nails, healthy nails, purpose-driven nails as capable of delicately tapping my chin in thought as they are of scraping something horrible from a cleaning client’s kitchen counter.
“Hey,” she says, “do you know you’re deformed?”
Sue, as guileless as she is perky, yells across the room. “Trish! Come here and look at her nails!”
Trish abandons the pedicure she’s doing just to take a gander.
They huddle over my hands, inspecting one finger after another.
“I wouldn’t call it a “deformity”…” I counter.
“Well what would you call it then?” Sue cackles gleefully. “Look at this. The sides of your nails? Where they’re still s’posed to be connected to the skin? They’re, like, not?”
“Gimme that,” I say, yanking my hand away. Taking hers, I hold it up next to mine, compare the two.
Dang it. Sue is right.
“So what’s it mean?” I say.
“What’s it mean?” she laughs, taking my hand back and massaging lotion into it. “How would I know?”
“Hey, who’s the nail tech around here?”
She shrugs. Sue lives in the moment more fully than anyone I know. “Doesn’t mean anything except that your nails suck.”
“They do, don’t they?”
“Yep,” she says, smiling. “But at least they’re not like some people’s feet.” She jerks her head toward the woman getting a pedicure on the other side of the room, leans toward me conspiratorially. “You think you got problems? Have you seen her little toe nail? Dang thing is just a weird little sliver.”
I nod slowly. “So you’re saying our problems are all relative?”
“Nope.” She shrugs again, lowers her head as she applies polish. “I’m saying everyone’s a weirdo, only some people are weirder than others.”
I smile down at her, at the grinning sun tattooed on the back of her neck.
Everyone’s a weirdo.