Translations at the Nail Salon
May 31, 2011 32 Comments
I like to zone out when I’m getting my mani pedis. This is my weekly routine.I walk inside the nail salon with my iPod in full blast. In my opinion, this is the best nail salon in my area. The owner greets me. She is Vietnamese. All of the ladies working there are Vietnamese. The owner says something (I don’t hear it), but I smile and wait for Peggy my manicurist. When I see Peggy she smiles and says something (I don’t hear it), and I follow her to her station. As I’m following the petite Peggy I accidentally bump into a not so petite grumpy looking manicurist who looks like she just sucked on a lemon. I say excuse me, but she says nothing. I get to Peggy’s station. I sit, close my eyes, and zone to the music as I feel the pulsing of warm water tickling my toes while Peggy begins on my right hand. This is my time for solitude; no one else exists.
Then my iPod shuts down. The battery is dead. I take off the earphones with my free hand and a cacophony of voices replace The “Go-Gos.” I don’t understand them but laughter, the universal language, speaks to me. Peggy is laughing and saying something in Vietnamese to the other mani-pedicurists. I can’t believe that I’ve tuned out the goings on when it’s clear that their conversation is far more interesting than what’s on my playlist. I wanted to ask if they could please speak in English so this nosy woman suffering from a bad hair day, a blooming zit on her nose and a dead iPod could get a chuckle or two. But I couldn’t do that–it would be rude.
So in a whispered voice I ask Peggy to translate. She agrees and says that one of them is talking about her husband. What about her husband I ask. Her husband no like her cooking so she say good he can cook and Agnes complaining that her sister still living with her and she don’t like her sister because she messy says Peggy. Then Peggy looks at me and says you know I like talking to you; I can practice my English.
More laughter ensues from the other manicurists working on hands and feet of oblivious clients. I was amused and privileged that I could partake (snoop) into their conversation. Peggy is an excellent translator of other women’s gossip. Although I suspected that she edited her play-by-play by cutting out the mundane and relaying only the sensational for my amusement. That’s fine by me because I only wanted to know the lurid and the funny anyway. Love it.
What else are they talking about I ask. Peggy says well Tami talking about her friend who is having an affair with a married man, and Minnie don’t like to sit next to stinky men in the bus and Annie complaining that she look at feet all day long she even dream of feet. We both laugh. Peggy is fun–she’s funny. I l really ike her. Do they ever talk about the ladies getting their nails done I ask. Peggy looks at me with a sneaky grin and says yes sometimes. Aha, I knew it. So, all those that say otherwise can kiss my tush because my own personal über skilled manicurist/translator just confirmed that these ladies do talk some smack about their clients. Was no one spared? They reminded me of –well–me and my friends.
Then a customer walks in. Peggy giggles. What’s so funny I ask. No one like to do that lady’s nails because she too picky and she a lousy tipper says Peggy. For some reason I found this so funny and laughed so hard that my cackling caught the attention of the grumpy manicurist at the next station. Grumpus glares at me and says something un-grumpy because everyone laughs except for Peggy. What did she (Grumpus) say I ask. Nothing Peggy says and moves her stool to start on my feet. What did Grumpus have to say that was so funny? Was it the zit (on my nose) quickly growing into adulthood? Was it my unruly hair tucked in a beret? Was it my torn jeans? What? What? I was dying to know. I look at Peggy again. She senses my gaze and just shakes her head. She stands up and puts the earphones back in my ear. I hear nothing except dying laughter. Peggy doesn’t have to translate what Grumpus said. Laughter is the universal language.
Sometimes it’s better to remain oblivious to what others are talking about.