Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Real Men Paint Fingernails

I was at a gathering of extended family recently. I walked into the dining room to retrieve something out of my purse.

"Melinda, Brian will paint your nails for you if you want," said my cousin Lori, referring to her husband.

I must have missed something, I thought. They must have been joking around about Brian painting nails before I walked in here.

"No thanks," I responded. "I'd have it all picked off by the time I reach Nephi."

I walked around the table and happened to sit down directly across from Brian.

He was painting his little niece's fingernails.

"Brian really does do nails!" I exclaimed.

I don't know Brian well. I've only met him a couple of times over the years. But I'll tell you what about Brian - he's a manly man. Not in the least bit girly. You can tell that just by looking at him. He has an electrical background and works for a utility company. You just gotta know he drives around in a big pick-up and has maybe even scaled his share of utility poles. Probably loves all kinds of outdoor activities - four wheeling, camping. Maybe he hunts. And he's a big guy. You just wouldn't expect him to be a manicurist.

"So," I asked him, feeling a blog post coming on, "how did you get into the nail business?"

"I started years ago as a way to spend time with my daughters," he told me. Lori and Brian have two girls who have both grown up and left home.

Over the years he's gotten really good at painting nails.

"It's a lot like painting a racing stripe on a car," he told me. "You have to be smooth and steady."

He finished applying a coat of polish to his niece's tiny nails. As they were drying, he pulled open a plastic bag and fished out a nail stamping kit.

"Now, look these over and decide what you want," he told her.

I realized that this was his stuff and that he had traveled from Oregon to Utah with it so that he could do his nieces' nails. I loved this guy.

 I had never seen the stamping process before. Brian carefully painted white over a tiny design on an image plate and squeegeed off the excess. Then he took a tiny finger in hand and patiently and precisely rolled it across.

"Do you like that one?" he asked. "It's okay if you don't. We can do it over."

It was perfect. They finished off the job. All the nieces lined up for their turns. Flowers and animal prints seemed to be the fashion of the day.

All the way from Oregon with his nail kit.

These girls love their Uncle Brian.

Don't you?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Senior Style - what was I thinking?

I'm no fashionista. My favorite thing to wear? Jeans and a t-shirt. Usually the t-shirt is a hand-me-down from my boys. Happy day for me when they all outgrew the mediums.

But since I can't wear jeans and t-shirts everywhere I go, I am occasionally forced to shop for real clothes. I would sooner shove bamboo shoots underneath my fingernails than shop for clothes, but sometimes we just don't get to choose. And then I go shopping.

I try to find clothing that is age-appropriate but somewhat stylish. Fortunately for me, Costco carries great stuff for middle-aged women. And it's cheap and convenient. If I find something I like and it comes in different colors, I buy a few. It's kind of like having a uniform. Thanks to Costco, rarely do I have to torture myself by entering a regular clothing store. And if I do, I've learned to take my daughter along.

Carolyn became fashion conscious about the time she entered junior high. We'd be in a store. I'd hold up a shirt.

"How about this?" I'd ask. "Is this cute?"

"Yeah," she'd answer. "For you," implying that she wouldn't be caught dead in it.

"Well, I would not want to look like a teenager," I'd inform her.

Oh, don't worry - I'd read her mind - you won't.

Once in a while she pays me a real compliment.

"I'd wear that," she'll say in response to a new top I might be wearing.

Makes me feel so stylish!

Recently my Aunt Becky passed away. A bunch of us were visiting as extended family the day before the funeral.

I was wearing a new shirt.

My Aunt Peachy said to me, "I like that shirt. I'd wear that."

Hmm... I thought.

A few minutes later my Aunt Norma told me, "Nice shirt. I'd wear that."

My Aunt Marie said, "I have that same shirt in white."

Well, guess what. I have it in white, too. Naturally, I had bought it in more than one color. But I was too disturbed to own up to this.

I was dressed like my senior citizen aunts!

I mean, don't get me wrong; they all wear cute clothes.

For them.

I should have taken Carolyn shopping with me. What was I thinking?

A little later on a bunch of us were sitting around the dining room table. As it often does in family conversations, the talk turned to who looks like whom. My cousin Greg, one of Aunt Becky's sons, said, "I don't know what it is, but something about Melinda reminds me of my mom today."

"I think it's because I've grown my hair long," I quickly remarked.

But we know that wasn't it.

We know what it was.

It was the shirt.