LIFE IN THE APPLE
by Melissa Kravitz
“It would be a great exercise for someone who thinks they want to move to New York. Sit down in an enclosed space full of fumes and hold hands with a stranger for twenty minutes while everyone around you speaks a language you don’t understand. If you enjoy this, you will enjoy the 6 train.” - Tina Fey, on getting a manicure in Manhattan, Bossypants
Fey, sans manicure --credit
The New York City manicure experience is unlike any other. Early on in my NYC career, I learned that I could easily exchange my lunch money for a manicure, a much more satisfying and fulfilling use of $7, so I believed.
I grew up in what some may call a ritzy neighborhood, where spas and nail salons decorate almost every corner, and a “cheap” manicure certainly costs no less than $17. So upon seeing the same product for less than half the price, I certainly wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity to have colorful, polished nails every week.
|A Met's fan manicure--credit|
A lifelong nail-biter, shiny hot pink nails are one of the few things that keep me from chomping down on my MTA-germ covered fingers, and for that, the $7 splurge is worthwhile.
I write this from my iPad as a young man with floppy hair is shaving off dead skin from the rough bottoms of my feet. It is not unenjoyable.
Korean covers of a popular One Direction single play in the background and my pedicurist hums along to the tune. Who said going to the salon is boring?
For the years I’ve been attending NYC nail salons, the occasion has been rare when the room is filled with only women. New York men have their hygiene standards, and for that we should all be grateful. There’s no reason a man can’t have his feet cleaned or nails filed to an appropriate length by a professional. If lavender polish isn’t for him, then he can pass on the glaze.
|Not an atypical scene --credit|
Walking into a nail salon in New York City, you can expect to be overwhelmed, and perhaps pressured into a variety of treatments. Manicure/Pedicure/Chair Massage has been dictated to me more times than I can count. I’ve often received a pedicure during which my pedicurist decided I needed my legs waxed, and that I did. Bangs blocking your eyes? You probably need an eyebrow wax. And a hair trim. Having a strong backbone, and ability to say “No, thank you” (as well as the ability to not be offended by all the suggested improvements to your appearance) is imperative.
While it’s still an indulgence, a $7 manicure is largely affordable to anyone, so the cast of characters in an NYC nail salon varies by the half-hour nail appointment. Walking in, I’ve met everyone from teen brides to cat ladies – with cats on their laps during the manicure session. But, the ability of an NYC nail salon to bring people together, with its ultra efficient manicure assembly line, should not be underrated.
|Salon bonding time shouldn't be underrated! -- credit|
Flipping magazines is one way to pass the time while nails dry, but why not strike up a conversation with a salon neighbor? I’ve met interesting producers, writers, NYC newbies, and students while sitting under the nail dryer, and though no lasting friendships have formed, there’s no pain in learning a little more about your NYC neighbors.
|The people-watching while drying is also great. --credit|
Overall, while I love the pretty colors glimmering on my nails – it’s the culture of the New York nail salons that keeps me back coming back time after time. The unexpected oddities that occur and the possibility of people I may meet, always bring a new adventure to what could otherwise be considered a mundane activity.