Cooking School Journal: I’m Doomed

“I’m doomed,” I said to Mom as I was heading out the door. Even though I was lacking the shiny golden armor, I was definitely feeling like C3-PO.

She was plating the kids an early dinner.  She had at least three hours of alone time ahead of her with my three girls, and she was particularly cheerful.

“Go get your toes done and go to what’s-her-name’s house. We’ll see you back here whenever!”

“Okay,” I replied lamely. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to curl up on my sofa and chit chat.

But… my toes looked like shameful. I was overdue for a pedicure by at least three months.  It’s an indulgence I tend avoid—guilty pleasure.  How can you justify an hour away from the kids and home just to have your stupid toe nails painted. What? You can’t paint the damn things yourself? A bottle of polish which easily supplies 10 applications is 3 dollars. One salon pedicure is thirty dollars.

1 selfish mom- 1bottle of nail polish x 1 hr +  $30  + X / time spent away from the children = BAD MOTHER

Anyway, since I never got past algebra II, I disregarded the equation and  headed off to the pedicure.

The women at Nellie’s Nails were very happy to see me.

As I walked through the door six Vietnamese-American ladies ripped off their surgical masks, dropped their drills and exalted “Hey Joo-Lee!”

I guess they missed me.

9 months ago I was in the salon every 3 weeks getting my acrylic nails filled, ripped off, replaced and filled.

Nellie asked, “Joo-lee? Where you been? You want full set? You nails short.”

“Oh. I can’t Nellie. I’m in cooking school. I can’t have them anymore. I guess they breed bacteria.”

She shoved her surgical mask back over her mouth. Her eyes shifted side-to-side and that conversation came to a quick halt.

“Why you here?” She whispered.

“I’m in desperate need of a pedicure. It’s almost embarrassing.”

“Okay, Joo-lee. She help you. Come over here.”

Nellie waved me over as she booted up the “spa chair”.

Spa chair= Ten more bucks.

“Come sit down.”

I felt conflicted. It was four. I had to be at Amber’s at five. The spa chair was going to kill my timing. But, after telling my brain to shut up, I decided that I deserved the spa chair. Joe’s been gone most of this summer… Mom’s watching the kids… Every girl needs good toes… I deserve the spa chair.

I climbed in. There’s nothing less relaxing than sitting in a chair plugged into the wall and plunking your feet into a built in tub of water. Dead Man Walking.

But, I was going to make the most of this. No matter what. I needed to relax. I was going to avoid my usual routine of scrutinizing each swipe of the emory board and brush of the polish and instead indulge myself in true relaxation. I set the spa chair’s massage remote for “lumbar up and down” and grabbed the latest “US Weekly”. I was set on being a true hedonist.

I resisted every urge to check my watch. I shrugged off every impulse to oversee the management of my toes. I plunged myself head first into the new tabloid debate of Brittany Spears vs. Jessica Simpson. Who’s better? Just as I was about to declare Jessica the winner, the pedicurist tapped my leg. “You all done.”

I put down the rag, thanked her and then glanced at my feet. I had eight toes painted a subtle shade of red, and two toes painted the same hue, but adorned with flowers and rhinestones.



I looked at my watch.  It’s 4:55.

My brain began yelling at me again, “You need to get to Amber’s. Blow it off. Don’t say anything. You can take it off yourself at home. It’s only a few dollars!”

I sat paralyzed for several minutes.

Nellie came by and tapped my leg. “You dry. It look good. Yes.”

Suddenly, that funny voice that I’m learning to really like, popped out, “Nellie. I didn’t ask for these flowers. I really want them taken off.”

Nellie stared at me in shock. She began saying something in Vietnamese that made all of the manicurists roll their eyes and grumble.

My funny voice tried to be tough, but decided to bail.

I tried to stand firm on my own. The best I could do was a waffling, “Well, it looks beautiful, and I really wasn’t paying attention, so I guess it’s my fault. Why don’t I pay you for it anyway, but can you please take it off and just paint on the polish.”

“You don’t like it? It’s beautiful!”

I was on the verge of breaking.

It was 4:59.

“It’s lovely, but it’s not me. I don’t want it. I want you to take it off. I don’t care if I have to pay, but I need it off!”

“Okay,” she said shrugging her shoulders.

She asked her friend in Vietnamese to make the change, and she did.

When I went to pay, I pulled out forty. It was only thirty. Reluctantly, Nellie removed the charges for the flowers, rhinestones and re-polish.

I walked out feeling empowered. I guess speaking up for yourself works sometimes.

Now I just had to find the right apology for being twenty-five minutes late to Amber’s.

Climbing into the car, I smudged both big toenails.

I’m doomed.