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Suburban Island

Manicure
Monday, Mar. 03, 2003, 1:37 p.m.

Question: What is the alternative to learning Vietnamese?

What I Learned: Just drink your coffee and relax.

I went to get a manicure yesterday. I see it as an inexpensive form of relaxation therapy. Add a Starbuck’s Toffee Nut Latte and the troubles trickle away even faster. For a few minutes someone is taking care of me. What a nice change of pace. At home, it seems like no sooner do I start something than someone is calling my name or interrupting my train of thought – it is like a forced form of ADD. Here in this little shop, I finally slow down.

For a long time it was hard not to get a bit annoyed at the chit-chat that would go on between the manicurists while they were working. The conversation seemed to move like a wildfire - leaping from station to station and even across the room - getting louder and louder as it went. I must admit, I felt a little left out since it was all going on in Vietnamese and a knowledge of foreign languages is not one of my great strengths. I also realize that it is probably quite a chore to carry on idle conversation with every client in an ESL basis – so I can’t say I blame anyone. It is just that there really is very little interaction with the client at all except in the form of pointed directions or direct questions. Pick a color. Sit here. Wash your hands now. You want to pay? You want your brows done too? That sort of thing. All the loud chatter was distracting and seemed to take away some of the recuperative power of the whole process. It added noise to the peaceful few minutes I needed. It also seems a tad rude somehow. I don’t think it is meant to be however.

Yesterday, I just finally let it go. Instead of resisting it, I just decided that I would look at it as part of the whole experience – even if it wasn’t the way I preferred. I would look at it as part of the ambiance. It worked this way – the Asian version of Latin music pumping through the speakers, the picture of the waterfall that actually rushed along with realistic sound effects of running water and birds singing, the Starbuck’s coffee cups littering the tabletops, the manicurists' conversations rising and falling like noisy waves at the beach, the smell of polish in the air, the winter sun shining through the glass storefront windows.

When I left I felt a bit more ready for the workweek ahead and a little more refreshed than I had expected. I had escaped the tasks of the weekend for a bit and was even able to read an article in the latest Cosmo about the importance of female friendships while my nails were drying.

Coffee, pink nails, and being a Cosmo girl for 5 minutes. How can you not like it?

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