Salon Chit-Chat

by Hillary B.

I’m in a wedding Saturday, which is one of the rare occasions I get a mani/pedi instead of painting my nails myself.

I get my eyebrows waxed near my house at the cheapest place ever. It’s run by a bunch of Asian ladies who wear these funny smock-shirt things with no actual shirt underneath, so I can see all their bras. My hair grows at lightning speed, so I’m in there roughly every eight days. Every eight days, I walk in and it’s packed but quiet except for the sounds of foot scraping and that machine that smokes when they take off fake nails, and every time I walk in, the owner lady, who wears a mask is usually doing someone’s nails, asks, “Manicure, pedicure?” And every eight days I answer, “Wax.” And then sometimes, even though I KNOW she heard me, she says, “What? Manicure, pedicure?” And I have to go, “WAX.”

So anyway, during these visits I’ve seen that mani/pedis are ONLY $27 dollars for both, and with the wedding coming up of course I’ve thought to myself, “This is a perfectly affordable way to probably contract a nail fungus.”

Everything is fine until the foot scraping part. I hate this part. I’ve always had lots of callouses, and when I was in junior high my mom used to say it was just because I was athletic, but I think she was lying like a good mother should. My friends were in sports with me, and it’s not like I was training for the Olympics on the side. Also, the first time I ever got a pedicure I was 20 and the woman picked up my foot and goes, “Do you RUN?!?” Of course I didn’t run back then, so I said “Yeah.” And secondly, my feet are so ticklish it hurts. When the lady squeezes my foot and buffs it, I can’t breathe and I clench my feet, and I do little kicks and alternate between saying “sorry” and making a laughy “ehhh” noise.

So finally it was manicure time and there was an older lady named Pam sitting beside me. Pam had a short gray bob and a mustache and was kinda boisterous/chit-chatty. She reminds me of Kathy Bates’s character in Fried Green Tomatoes who shouts, “TOWANDA!!!”

Pam was the only one talking/shouting in the salon, and I heard her ask the mask lady, “How many kids do you have? Just the one?”

Mask Lady: One.

Pam: ONE! Just ONE???

Mask Lady: Yeah.

Pam: WHY?

Mask Lady: I too old.

Pam: Oh, I figured it was because in China you can only have one.


(In my brain: OMG, Pam! That’s kind of an awkward thing to say, right? Maybe it’s not … I don’t know. Wait, am I the one that’s ignorant for thinking this is specifically something you SHOULDN’T say? Maybe it’s perfectly acceptable — what’s wrong with me? Wait, is Mask Lady for sure Chinese? Are they friends? Wait, no, you definitely shouldn’t say that … Hmmm … Wipeout is on TV …)

Pam: You can only have one there, right?

Mask Lady: Yeah.


Mask Lady: Too many people China.


Pam: Just one. What do they do if you have two … kill it?

(OH MY GOD PAM, just stop. That has to be crossing the line. Oh my god. Nobody is answering!)

(dead, long, dead dead silence)

Mask Lady: (looks at me with weird smile, I think mocking Pam but I cannot be sure) Yeah. Surgery. Remove.

Pam: Wow. I can’t believe it. You can only have one … Huh …

Mask Lady: Yeah, too many people.

Pam: Everybody goes along with that?

Pam: One’s probably enough for ya. Wait, you have a brother don’t you?

Mask Lady: No.

Pam: Yeaaah, YOU have a brother!

Mask Lady: Yeah. That was before.

Pam: Oh, that was before the rule? Well I’m glad your brother got outta that China! How many kids does he have? Just ONE?

Pam: One kid, huh. What if you have TWINS? THEY KILL ONE TWIN?!? Just one kid, I can’t believe it.

(long silence)

(longer silence)

(PHEW. This is over. That was really intense. The nerve some people have! Such a sensitive topic, I’d think. Relax, Hillary. Phew. Pam’s watching Wipeout on the TV now and isn’t talking anymore about killing kids and it’s over. Everybody’s okay. Why didn’t I just go get a mani/pedi with Kari tomorrow morning instead of this crazy place? I’m hungry. I don’t have any wine at home. I don’t have to work tomorrow, woo hoo! Maybe I’ll just go to bed. Sleepy.)

Hillary: Wait, so what if you get a divorce and then marry somebody else — can you have another kid with that person or what?

(WTF did I say that for?!? Stop!)



This was supposed to be the end of my story, but I will tell you the answer:

Mask Lady: If one person have kid and one don’t, you have one kid. If both person have kid, can’t have kid.

Hillary B. lives in Chicago with her cat.

Photo via Flickr/dno1967b