My hands were shaking. Not a good look on a manicurist. So I excused myself from my new customer and walked to the back of the salon. I headed into the little bathroom, trying to catch my breath as I swung the door shut. Safely inside, I stood at the basin and turned on the sink. The running water swirling down the drain symbolized my life and somehow smoothed the rapid thoughts ping ponging around in my head. I tried to calm my breathing as I glanced at my reflection in the mirror and saw a girl who was both shocked and relieved.
My first concern was for my customer, Tara. Poor, dumb girl, it’s not her fault. She’ll be mortified when she finds out what just happened. I really didn’t want her to feel bad. No escaping that though, I’m afraid.
It all started out innocently enough. Tara’s friend, Lauren, was going to get her hair done and suggested that Tara join her and get herself a manicure at the same time. When they first walked in the salon I thought to myself that Tara looked a lot like the actress Laura Dern. She was tall, blonde and lanky with a happy smile and lovely hands. She asked for a French manicure.
I’m not sure what it is about hair salons, but girls just love to start gabbing in them. It’s a wonderful place to work for people like me, a student of human nature. Women are so comfortable, and they just let loose with what is going on in their lives. I had a customer once describe to me her new Jaguar, a gift from her husband. Wonderful for her, so I asked, “What was the occasion?” Silently I pondered the possibilities: birthday, anniversary, job promotion. She explained that it was to make up for the one blow job her husband’s secretary had given him. Not expecting this, I squirmed in my chair as she went on. Somehow she had caught wind of his transgression and the result was a new Jaguar. She finished her story by confirming, “It was only a blow job.” Being the student of human nature that I am, I began to mull that one around a bit, “It was only a blow job?” Hmm, how does that work? Is that just one less blow job that she had to give? She also seemed easily removed from the fact that another woman had her husband’s baby maker in her mouth. My guess was that the “one time” part was a stretch, but I try not to judge.
Being affable is an important characteristic for a manicurist. I am nothing if not affable. I asked my new customer “Do people ever tell you that you look like Laura Dern?” “Yes” Tara responded, “I get that a lot.” I think we are both 5”11’ she added.
The go to subject of most all girls in the hair salon is their boyfriends and Tara was no different. By the sounds of it, Tara was quite enamored with hers, explaining among other things that he is 6’3” which she loves because she can feel comfortable wearing heels when they go out. I asked a few of the standard questions, “How long have you two been together? How did you meet?”They had been together about four months. She had met him through her father; they were drinking buddies at the same bar around the corner from her father’s jewelry store. Feeling encouraged and continuing she added that she was pretty sure he was “the one”. Tara described how she recently designed a beautiful gift for him that her father made. When she gave it to him he was so surprised and happy. She called it their four month anniversary gift. After a few moments of silence, Tara, with a far off look in her eye shared with me her concern over a trip her boyfriend recently made to Las Vegas. “When did he go?” I inquired. “Last weekend” was her reply. “My boyfriend had also been in Las Vegas that same weekend, I told her.” Apparently Tara’s boyfriend had made this trip to Vegas with another girl, Michelle. She lamented that he was adamant about the fact that this Michelle girl was “just a friend”. When Tara continued, it turned out her true misgivings had to do with the fact that he rented a Corvette and stayed in a suite at the Mirage. He explained to her that the suite had separate bedrooms. I wondered if she was actually comforted by that information. Since he had not worked in a while, she was not quite sure where he got the money for such luxuries. He never seemed to spend that kind of money on her. What kind of work does he do? “He is a contractor” she replied. “My boyfriend is also a contractor.” It seemed to me that Tara really wanted to believe him. Plus, she said, because he was so generous with the details, how could he be lying?
How do you like the new moisturizer I am using? It is all natural and has Jojoba oil. Tara raised her elegant hand and said “it smells wonderful. I am so happy to finally be getting a manicure. It has been to long since I have had my nails done.
We chit chatted about a few other things, but the topic of course came back around to the boyfriend. It was as if telling a stranger her story, made her actually hear herself for the first time. Tara was really getting worked up about the whole trip to Vegas thing with Michelle and was deciding whether to confront him about it. She started to hatch a plot to try to catch him in a lie.
Good luck with that, I thought while I shaped her nails. My boyfriend Steve and I had been together two years and have a beautiful baby girl. I always had my suspicions about him, but everything he had always told me checked out. Just the other day he was getting ready to move from his apartment, and I was there helping him pack. On the kitchen counter was a beautiful money clip with a tiger’s eye quartz in it. I had never seen it and asked him where it came from. He said it was from an old girlfriend from years ago. “How come it looks brand new?” I demanded. His response, “I just found it in the bottom of a box, I haven’t seen it for years, relax.” This explanation seemed plausible at the time.
Tara was now on a bit of a rant so I tuned her out. I was reflecting on my own relationship until she said something that caught my full attention. While describing in more detail this boyfriend of hers, she said, “He also has a baby with this other girl, but it’s totally nothing they just have a baby together.” My mind spun as the details Tara was describing to me started to add up. Steve had been to Las Vegas the same weekend. We have a baby together. He is a contractor.
I finally asked, “What is your boyfriend’s name?”
“Steve Link,” she replied casually. This news was especially devastating to me as it appeared our boyfriends had the exact same name. My brain was now shooting off hot fireworks. Of course, the money clip, I thought. “Love Tara” was what the engraving had said on the back of the clip. Tara, “the old girlfriend from years ago”.
While I was holding Tara’s hands in mine, she unknowingly informed me that my boyfriend is actually her boy friend and that he cheated on her with another girl whose name is apparently Michelle. I am “just a girl he had a baby with”. Poor Tara, she had absolutely had no idea who was moisturizing her cuticles.
It was strangely quiet when I came back from the bathroom. I still had to finish Tara’s French manicure. No doubt her friend Lauren and my colleague doing her hair had informed her who I was…the girl that Steve had a baby with, who was nothing to him.
Despite my shaking hands, the class act that I am, I finished up Tara’s manicure. Considering it was a French manicure this was no easy task. The result of course was shiny and beautiful. While applying the top coat of polish and trying to keep my breathing even, a thought occurred to me, I wonder how many times in the past four months these hands had been on my boyfriend’s baby maker? I actually smiled. I felt sorry for her. Poor Tara had just found out “the one” wasn’t.
I, on the other hand was relieved to finally have concrete evidence that Steve was a philandering heel and was happy to finally get rid of him later. Of course, he did not go quietly, spinning many yarns that fell on my deaf ears.
I also found out how Steve had gotten the money to go to Las Vegas, rent a Corvette and stay in a suite at the Mirage. It was all spelled out very clearly on my next month’s credit card bill. Oh well, no new Jaguar for me.