Saturday at the Nail Salon

A couple days ago, I visited my local nail salon. I don’t get my nails done often, but with a couple big events ahead, it seemed appropriate to look a little more polished—apologies for the unavoidable pun. For reference, this salon sits in the heart of Buckhead, a slightly more conservative pocket in the Mecca of rap artistry known as the City of Atlanta.

I’m not a regular at this salon, but given its location, I assumed it would involve the typical nail experience—technicians speaking in lively Mandarin, with customers offering sporadic comments or silence. My assumption was wrong; instead, I would encounter a slice of American culture that rivaled an episode of The View.

During my long hour there, two older New Yorkers sat nearby, ostensibly to get their nails done, but certainly for loud conversation. The two ladies, whom I’ll call Lady One and Lady Two, began their repartee by examining Lady One’s bargain find, a mug of cinnamon candy that she’d just snatched up at Whole Foods. A neck brace and scooter did little to dampen their spirits—they plowed on from there, unfiltered, through all the news of the day.

First, Lady One checked her messages, strolling around with her phone on speaker. I found out firsthand that residents of the Jewish Tower need not be concerned about the bad odor they were smelling throughout the building that day; management was handling it.

This broadcasted voicemail, once completed, led to innocuous Tower talk, including whose apartment may be up for grabs, who was hanging out in the lobby, who got sick at a recent dinner party, and the best way to handle cat litter. Lady Two, however, wasn’t aware of all the Tower drama. She likes watching the Oxygen network, you know, so she hadn’t been down in the lobby to gather intelligence.

If you’re thinking that this a typical retirement tower, you’re underestimating it; it’s also a hotbed of retail and credit card scandal.

One of the residents has been asking too many people to take her to T.J. Maxx, where the resident is also making too many merchandise returns. This resident also got “cut off” from making returns at Kohl’s—and watch your credit card when she’s around, if you know what I mean.

Soon enough, the conversation turned political. After hearing this portion of the exchange, I never again want to hear anyone accuse old Republicans of being brainwashed by hours of Fox News. In fact, the situation for these two ladies was much more dire due to their similar exposure to CNN.

Lady One is positive that “Santos” (the Florida guy, she noted) is going to run for president, and that’s bad because he won’t even let people say “gay”. Also, all those republicans just don’t like taxes. They’re all crazy like that. They just like to keep their money, which is so rude and strange.

Lady Two remembered something else concerning about Republicans. They are always calling the Georgia senator “Warlock”. I wonder why? He’s a nice reverend, isn’t he? Those people are so mean.

Strangely enough, a lot of Lady One’s friends down in Florida just love “Santos”; but that’s because they all watch Hannity, whom Lady Two happens to hate. He’s a terrible person, and she can’t stand him.

I listened to their expansive commentary on Tower talk, clearance candy, Santos, and Warlock for quite a while before things at the salon took a disturbing turn.

A 30-something father in snappy attire walked in with his two little ones—a boy and a girl, both four or five—explaining to the apparently familiar employees that it was spring break; he said the little guys needed something to do. I’m trying to remember if there was a single instance when I’d considered bringing my son to a nail salon for his spring break fun; I’m almost 100% sure there was not.

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