Sunday, 9 May 2010

The Zen of Doing My Nails

I had a long weekend. 
Lots of people, lots socialising, lots of family. I'm now sitting at home on my couch, watching reruns of The Mentalist (and loving Simon Baker...hmmm I have a thing for blondes *sigh*). I've unpacked my nail-care stuff. Nail-polish remover, various files and buffers, little cuticle scissors, cuticle care balm, extra-rich lemon scented hand cream, clear strengthening base polish, a selection of colours and my favourite extra-shine top coat. 

This friday, I had a dinner meeting with my cousin, who's getting married end of may. I'm one of his witnesses, as we call it these parts - that means I stand up for him in church, sort of like a maid of honour but for the groom. The groom's brother is a witness, too, as are two of the bride's best friends. 
We had all planned on meeting up that evening to go over the schedule for the wedding. Various spouses and siblings came along, too. Bride and groom presided over the meeting, although the bride definitely had things well in hand. She handed out five-page printouts of her List of Stuff To Remember so we could all make notes on our own copies. 
Those lists covered everything from how many chairs we'd have to put up in church (yes, we would have to do that) to who would hoover the carpets and check the lightbulbs. 
I've taken out some cotton wool thingies and removed my current nail polish. It's Noir de Chine, or rather it was. Once I've rubbed away the most stubborn bits of black, I go wash my hands, scrubbing my fingers with a soft-ish little nailbrush I bought last week. I dry them off and go back to the couch. 
The Mentalist is over now. I channel surf until I hit Transformers. It'll do. 

I was rather surprised (and somewhat amused) to learn that my main job for the wedding (it had to be my main job, it was mentioned no less than three times on that list) was to supply a large amount of our family-made plum schnaps (lethal stuff) for the banquet on the evening after the wedding. Right. 

No carpet-hoovering or chair-schlepping for me, then. 
We finally hashed out most of the details (at least as far as one can...Murphy has a way of interfering with things if one plans to well), including when the bridal bouquet would be thrown to the slavering unmarried 'virgins' (which will probably include me, although I already have a dried bridal bouquet in my cupboard from another cousin's wedding, much good that it did me). And who is allowed to give speeches and when (yea right like we could stop anyone who disobeyed). 
I push back the skin from my nails with a little rosewood stick, then massage the cuticle balm into my fingertips. It smells like roses and lavender, a calming scent to quiet my thoughts. I take the little cuticle scissors and cut away the unruly dead bits of skin. 
I got home at one a.m. on Friday. Had breakfast with my parents on Saturday, then made my way into town to find the one good hatmaker that had been recommended to me. As in, the only one that was actually worth going to. I already have a dress and long jacket for the wedding, you see, and shoes that match, but being a witness I have to be extra-fancy and wear a hat, too. So there I go. 
The nice sales lady in this very austere modern hat shop asks if she can help. Of course she can. I hand her the belt to the jacket I will wear for the wedding. 
No, she's very sorry, but they will not be able to match the colour (dark turquois with black patterns).
I didn't expect them to perform miracles. An off-white, beige-y kind of colour will do - that way I can wear it with other dresses, too. 
She immediately judges my facial features and head shape and recommends The Perfect Hat Style for me. She hands me a pink bit of confection and assures me that they've got it in off-white, too, or if not, they can make it for me. I ignore the little angel on my shoulder (or was it the demon?) whispering make it for you? sounds expensive...  and try it on. The nice lady adjusts it slightly, so it's at the correct angle. 
She's right, it's perfect. 
I take it off, smile at the nice lady. I glance at the price tag and my smile falters a little (control, Tessa, it's all about control). Way above the budgeted amount. 
But it's perfect. 
Shoot, jellybeans and gummibears (I have a niece and nephew and a couple of godkids, so no cursing for me for the next decade or so). 
I close my eyes, swallow down the knot in my throat and buy the da... uhm, the absolutely gorgeous perfect hat. 
I take out my nail files. I use the crystal one to shape my nails into soft, oval tips of approximately even length. Then, I take the soft, yellow one and use it to file away any leftover polish and any uneven bits. My nails turn slightly white as I file away at them. I take a soft cloth and whipe away the filings. 
Saturday afternoon - I've recovered from the Shock of the Price Tag - we meet up at at trendy little bar in the middle of the biggest food market. One by one, the girls celebrating the hen weekend turn up. All in little black dresses, as ordered. The bride and her two maids of honour turned up last. 
The bride wore violently pink leggins, a jeans skirt and a t-shirt that said "The next top wife" in the same writing Heidi Klum's show uses. You know the one, I'm sure. She (the bride, not Heidi) has pink furry handcuffs attached to her belt, pink feathers in her hair and a veil on her head. Like anyone could mistake her for anything but the bride-to-be. 
Strangely enough, it kind of suits her. A bit like Cindy Lauper, in fact. 80s chick, but not in a (too) bad way. 
So there we are, the white-veiled bride and her little-black-dressed troop of maids. 
We start explaining the tortur...ehm the tasks we've thought up for the bride. We make her tie windsor knots on random men's ties, sell roses to passers-by for honeymoon-funds and do the catwalk (to our loud and off-key singing) on the city's main square. She's a good sport and does really well, managing to sell the roses for twice the money she asked for. You go, girl. 
I've now painted my nails with the strengthening nail polish. It's a bit slow with the drying. 
Saturday evening ended in a really, really cheesy 90s party. A 90s party. Seriously. I feel old. 
On the positive side, I was the youngest lady in our group. Yeah me.
Well, in spite of weirdly familiar cheesy 90s music (think Vengaboys and 'I'm a Barbie Girl'), it was great fun. Even the one pregnant bridesmaid stayed on till three am. 
We went home, our feet killing us, smiles on our faces, little red rose clips still in our hair to enforce the group feeling. 
My base polish is now dry. I have to choose a colour. 

I have a whole collection of nail polish bottles, a rainbow of colours. I choose "beach", a glittery medium blue. It makes me happy, that name, reminding me of the holiday I've just booked. 
This afternoon I attended a piknik given by the groom's parents. Their place is about an hour's drive out of town, in a little village. Beautiful place, although there is a river near by, so in summer you get eaten alive by mosquitoes. This time of the year, there's only one or two and they don't bother you much. 
It was nice - the sun was shining, people were smiling, food wasn't great but did the job. I felt woefully underdressed (I'd spillt my morning coffee on the dress I'd meant to wear and had to make do with a second-rate casual skirt and shirt). I spent most of the afternoon in serious conversation with one of my cousin's two year old daughter. For some reason, she loves me although she's shy around most other people. She dragged me around in all seriousness, and I let her. I guess that's why she likes me. 
My nails are now beach blue. I love it. I take out the top coat to seal the colour. 
I got home at six this afternoon. My puppies were waiting eagerly, happy to have their alpha back (maybe I'm deluding myself, but hey). They wriggled around me, begging for a cuddle. 
A nice bubble bath later, and here I am, watching TV, typing away, doing my meditation manicure. 
All done now. Nails bright blue, shiny under their top coat. 
I take a dollop of hand cream, massage it in. 

All right, world. 

I'm ready for Monday. 
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