Polish or Perish
The trouble with toenails
LORI OSIECKI ILLUSTRATION
My daughters polish their toenails black and blue and green. I tell them it looks like somebody stepped on their foot. I believe ladies’ fingernails and toenails should be the color God intended: Bright red.
And how come the names of the different shades of polish that ain’t got nothing to do with actual colors no more? “Naughty Girl Knickers.” “Sexy Kitten.” “Lovers’ Leopard.” You ain’t going to find that in no Crayola box.
If that ain’t bad enough, they paint little-bitty designs on their nails. I can understand fleurs-de-lis during Saints season. That is natural. But lightening bolts? Kittens? Body parts? God help us all.
My older daughter, Gumdrop, is maid of honor in her friend Tiffani’s wedding, and her job is to organize the toenail painting.
The bridesmaids’ dresses will be short in front and long in back – all the better to frame the girls’ bare toes in their sexy stiletto sandals.
Tiffani and Gumdrop spent a long time selecting the toenail polish. Finally they decided on “Pink Venus,” whatever that is. At least they ain’t going to paint tiny brides and grooms on their toes.
The bridesmaids will all get their hair and toes done at my friend Awlette’s beauty salon on the afternoon of the wedding, and then hustle over to the church and put on their dresses in a dressing room in the back.
Gumdrop has to inspect everybody’s toes, so she’s the last one to get hers done. Awlette has to leave early, so she leaves Gumdrop in the capable hands of Ms. Mai, an older Asian women who’s the best manicure artist in the shop. If they had wanted brides and grooms, Ms. Mai could have painted them on every single toe in the wedding party.
Now, the girls had quite the bachelorette party the might before, and Gumdrop is exhausted. Ms. Mai asks Gumdrop what she wants on her toes, Gumdrop mumbles “Pink Venus,” then apologizes for being so tired from the bachelorette party, leans back in the reclining pedicure chair and falls asleep.
Unfortunately there’s a slight language barrier. Ms. Mai hears “bachelorette party,” and concludes Gumdrop is getting ready for a night on the town. And she misunderstands “Pink Venus.”
After Ms. Mai finishes, she straps Gumdrop’s stilettos on her feet, real careful so as not to mess up the polish, and wakes her up just in time to rush to the church.
She goes straight to the dressing room, and is pulling her dress over her head, when Marigny, another bridesmaid, says “Oh! My! Gawd!” She points to Gumdrop’s feet.
Ms. Mai has painted something pink on them all right. On all ten toes. All I am going to say about this image is that it rhymes with “Pink Venus.”
These toes would have gotten Gumdrop arrested on Bourbon Street.
To make it worse, Ms. Mai used that new gel polish, which won’t come off with polish remover, even if Gumdrop had polish remover, which she don’t.
I am already in my pew when the shrieking starts up in the back room. Marigny rushes out and hisses that Gumdrop needs me to trade shoes with her. But I got also got on sandals, so that’s no help. I look around, and there ain’t a woman in the church not wearing strappy sandals. Every toe is exposed.
And then Gus the groom’s great-grandmother, Mawmaw, hobbles up the aisle … in orthopedic shoes. I go over and introduce myself real polite and ask if Gumdrop can borrow her shoes to cover her toes. I try to explain why, but she’s hard of hearing, “Hose? Of course I’m wearing hose. Do I have a run?”
Finally, I lead her to the back room. I point to Gumdrop’s feet. She gasps. She snorts. She clutches her chest. Then she wheezes, “Hah! You got some Viagra for them toes?”
Anyway, Gumdrop clumps up the aisle in Mawmaw’s shoes; Mawmaw wears my low-heeled sandals (over her pantyhose; but older ladies think that’s all right) and I totter to my pew in Gumdrop’s stilettos.
But who cares? All eyes are on the bride.
On the way to the reception, Gumdrop stops by Walgreens, buys “Boot Black by Jack” polish, slathers it over her toenail artwork, and climbs back into her stilettos in time to pose for the wedding pictures.
Everybody says she looks lovely. With solid black toenails.
Which goes to show.