Friday, March 27, 2020

The MAN-icure (Standing in solidarity)

I was in the checkout line at the supermarket and noticed the bagger’s manicure. He had bright red 
nails with a black design painted on each one.


I debated with myself, and ultimately, I couldn’t help but ask him about it. (It’s not like he’s a total stranger or anything – I’m in that supermarket two to three times a week.)

I said, “You got your nails done.” And I asked him what the symbol was.

He told me it meant Vox Machina, something to do with his Dungeons and Dragons group. I thought to myself, OMG, D&D, something my mom and her friends did when I was a kid! That’s still around!?

We bantered a bit and I asked him where he got his nails done (He said he went to the new salon next door whose WiFi my phone always tries to connect with when I’m grocery shopping) and whether it was a gel manicure. He said it was. I thought to myself, Good luck getting that off!

Ultimately, I asked him why, because I have never seen his nails done before. I have nothing against men wearing makeup or nail polish, it’s just not that common in my rural neighborhood. The first dude I ever remember wearing makeup was Lyle – a guy that worked at the same company as me after college. I lost track of him after he moved to Las Vegas. This was in the Dude (Looks Like a Lady) era.

Supermarket Guy told me that he is standing in solidarity with one of his friends from Dungeons and Dragons; that his friend had decided he wanted to paint his nails and people were making fun of him for it, and he wanted to be supportive.

“You’re a good friend.”

“Thanks. I try,” he replied.

It reminded me of this time in 7th grade where one of my friends, Jenny, had lost a bet to her 9th grade sister and she had to wear her pants rolled up to her knees all day. She was so embarrassed about it. Humiliated, even. To make matters worse, she was late for first-period science class and everyone turned to look at her when she walked in. She entered the room awkwardly, staring at the floor as she shuffled and bumbled to her seat.

Where I went to the first half of 7th grade was in Middletown, RI. (Leaving in the middle of 7th grade to move to a new state is a story for another day.) Middletown is not far from the Newport Navy Base, where my brother was born, and thus I benefitted from a good amount of international influence, as people from all over the world might be stationed there. I had friends from South America, Italy, and Peru and  my life was a lot less vanilla than it became when I moved to “Milltown,” Massachusetts (which is a lot nicer way to describe it than I am thinking in my head right now.) My 7th grade best friend and I tried to dress the same way every day. (It was a challenge for me because this was my free-hot-lunch era and I didn’t have that many cool clothes.) We also sewed the same book bag in home ec and made the same halter top, as well as created a secret code for all the girls in our class so no one could understand the notes we passed.

We exchanged glances, and then almost silently bent forward in our seats to roll our pants legs up to our knees. One by one, the other girls in the class followed suit. By the time lunch period rolled around, every girl in the 7th grade who was wearing pants that day had them rolled up to her knees. Jenny’s mean older sister’s plan backfired as we all strutted into the cafeteria, Jenny among the throng with her head held high.

Like Supermarket Guy and my 7th grade class, stand by your friends!

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