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INDULGENCES : Satisfaction at Your Fingertips


For years now, some of us working Downtown wished we could scoot out for a midday manicure during lunch hour. Me included.

I had two requirements in mind. One, that I could manage the appointment during my lunch break. Two, that I would like the manicure. Both specifications panned out plus a nice bonus--I liked the manicurist.

I made the appointment and timed it, including the walk to and from its location on First Street near Los Angeles Street. Total: 59 minutes.


I sat at Veronica's workstation, placed my hands upon a paper towel atop a terry-cloth towel. Veronica wiped my nails with cotton pads soaked with nail polish remover. She asked how I wanted my nails filed. Oddly enough, she filed them accordingly. Moreover, I requested that she not file down the sides. (Unlike other manicurists, Veronica knew that would weaken my nails.) Here again, she listened.

My right hand was dipped into a small glass bowl containing soapy water to soften the cuticles and clean the nails. After the soak, Veronica worked in the cuticle remover lotion. She pushed on the cuticles carefully with a metal cuticle pusher. She did not disturb the healthy cuticle. (I've known manicurists to dig at cuticles.) Veronica used the same utensil to clean under the nails. All of these utensils were kept in a sterilizing solution.

The next step was removing dry cuticles with cuticle nippers. Again, I appreciated Veronica's style. She took gentle, small tugs with cuticle nippers at the dead skin that had been loosened and softened earlier on.

Afterward, she ran a buffer lightly over the cuticles to smooth them and massaged baby oil into the fingertips and nails. While the oil soaked in, she gave my left hand the same treatment.

Once both hands were cleaned up, my favorite part started--the massage. Veronica lathered cream all over my hands and wrists.

First her fingers massaged light circles over the top and underside of my hands and then she used her palms over those same areas. Her thumbs pressed into the center of my palms. That was relaxing.

She gently tugged at my fingers, pulling each one in small circles, and then in the opposite direction.

After massaging my wrists, Veronica interlaced her fingers with mine and rotated my hand in slow circular motion. (This is when you relax your muscles and let the manicurist move your hands.)

After the five-minute massage, Veronica scrubbed my nails--on top and underneath--with a wet brush. She used terry cloth to pat dry my hands, and pulled the cloth through my fingers. She placed my hands on a fresh piece of paper towel and checked her work. She looked for stray cuticles or nails that might need a slight adjustment with the nail file.

She asked if I wanted nail polish. I decided to skip it. My nails were groomed so well that I didn't bother with color. Besides, you have to allow five to 10 minutes for nail polish to dry.

Some women let their polish dry on the way back to work. I'm not that graceful and the polish would have been smudged by the time I returned to work. Now that I have a better sense of timing, next time I would go for a coat of clear polish. There will definitely be a next time.


Postscript: Before the manicure, remove your jewelry. Rings, bracelets and watches get in the manicurist's way. Put the jewelry back on before your nails are polished. Conversely, take out any items that you'll need immediately after the manicure such as money, keys, ID card. Digging into pockets or rummaging through a purse will mess up nail polish. Speaking of which, bring your own if you expect to do touch-ups in between appointments.

I paid $10 (plus tip) for the manicure. Cash only, by the way. Leave your work number if you make an appointment. Veronica will call if she is running late. (Normally it's tardy clients ahead of you who cause a snowball effect.)

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