Although Los Angeles is most famous for movie stars and beach bums, you can live a full and productive life here without running into either, at least not knowingly. But one thing you are unable to avoid, one ubiquitous phenomenon that crowds every block is the nail salon! I’m not exaggerating when I say that even in my (mostly Jewish and often observant) neighborhood, they are frequently two per block, four if you count both sides of the street. And, unlike the kosher restaurants which seem to open and close with painful rapidity, these mani-pedi establishments seem here to stay.
When I grew up in small town Canada, a manicure was something reserved for a very special occasion. In fact, I don’t ever remember getting one. But here in LA, it’s not uncommon to see mothers and (very) young daughters having their fingernails painted in matching colors!
Pre, post and high school girls are regular and constant customers. I seem to be out of the loop for I am an infrequent participant in this ritual. Not because I don’t like the look – I do appreciate it, especially some of the brighter colors (fuchsia being a particular favorite). Rather, I find that as soon as I return home and enter the kitchen (which is usually the minute I walk in the door), I chip the fresh polish (peelers and graters are particularly treacherous) and all that time and money is wasted. (And what a silly thing to get aggravated about.)
Which brings me to the other two reasons for my hesitation. I can’t bear sitting there, doing nothing as it were. Some women find it relaxing; I just feel antsy and ready to go do something. Now I recognize that, with some careful planning, this issue could easily be resolved. I could go with a friend and it would be chance to catch up. I could go with one of my daughters and it would be an opportunity to bond (Wait; isn’t that how they convince me to go shopping with them?) Or I could do as one clever friend does and record classes on my iPod (if I had one) and listen to them while my toes are being painted, thus working on internal and external beauty simultaneously (now that’s efficient!).
And then there’s the money. Since there are so many salons, the price is kept fairly low (unless you want a French manicure, your calluses scraped off or an extra massage). But it still adds up. It’s still a luxury that I find hard to justify.
Although I certainly get tempted. This week when my daughter suggested we go together I almost capitulated. I looked at my chipped nails and messy cuticles and was about to make an appointment. I could find the money somehow, somewhere.
And then I thought about the situation in Israel (from the mundane to the sublime) and I decided I'd rather donate that amount (small as it is) to charity, as a merit for the soldiers and civilians facing today’s serious challenges. I couldn’t bring myself to sit and relax in the manicurist’s chair while rockets rain down on homes and schools.
And I had a better thought (I think). If women throughout the world gave up one manicure and donated the money to help families in Israel, the results would probably be surprising. A lot of dollars go to the enterprising immigrants who have opened these establishments and they work hard for them. But, in the meantime, there is a need for help and support in Eretz Yisrael, a need for the Jews of Israel to know we stand beside and behind them.
I know it sounds silly to make a campaign out of donating your “manicure” to Israel and I don’t have a catchy slogan, but I really think it has potential and it could help make a difference. It could make women everywhere feel involved, feel like they are contributing, and deepening their caring. It’s one small “sacrifice” with exponential rewards. We need a motto, a sound byte, a great line – I don’t have it yet but perhaps those manufacturers of nail polish who think up names like Barre My Soul, Isn’t That Precious, I Think in Pink, and (my favorite) I’m Not Really a Waitress, could help us out…
I’m giving my manicure (I’m throwing in the pedicure too!) to Yad Eliezer. Where are you giving yours?