Tuesday, May 1, 2012


It began simply enough. Last month in LA. A mother/daughter outing to a nail salon in Little Tokyo. A quiet Friday afternoon, nothing out of the ordinary. We anticipated an easy in and out. I was going to go with my usual mauve type color but Kate made a face. I picked up a bottle of blue. "This is pretty," I said. "Go with it," my daughter said. "Try something new." We agreed. I was going to do blue fingers and toes. Kate was going with blue toes, but green fingers. Okay it was set. They were mainly Korean, I think, the people who worked there. They were nice and the place was clean. They put us in side by side pedicure chairs and two women went to work on our feet. Kate and I are both very ticklish so we were gripping the sides of the chairs, laughing away. Two chairs down a woman with blond hair, perhaps about my age, in what looks like a pale blue Chanel jacket, sat with her eyes closed in a kind of swoon. A man was working meticulously on her feet. Time passed. The man moved on to the woman's hands and soon our feet were done. The trouble began just after our manicures started. Kate and I sat, hands in bowls of soapy warm water, when we heard the commotion to our right. Something was wrong with the woman in the other chair. She was holding up the sample color of her nailpolish and shouting at the man who had just spent two hours working on her. "Does this look transparent? This is transparent." She shook the sample stick in his face. "Do these nails look transparent to you?" Kate and I looked at one another, then around the salon. On the TV George Clooney had just been arrested for his protests in Washington regarding the faminine and deaths in Sudan. Two blocks from us was a tent city where men were living on the street. And this woman was screaming at the man who'd done her nails because the color wasn't transparent. The man was saying to her, as gently as possible, that if she hadn't liked the color, she should have noticed before he'd done all ten of her fingers and toes. The owner of the salon offered to redo the manicure. The pedicure it seemed was all right. But the woman stormed out of the salon, refusing to pay for anything. We were all stunned. The owner ran after the woman, shouting that she had to pay for the pedicure. The man who had worked on her just sank into a chair, shaking his head. That is when the fight insued. Before we knew it there were shouts from outside. Apparently the woman in the Chanel jacket was taking pictures of the nail salon to post on yelp and other sights and show what a horrible place this was. The owner of the salon thrust her hand at the woman to stop her from taking a picture and the woman's cell fell to the ground, cracking its twenty-five dollar casing. As our nails were drying, the LAPD arrived. Two officers came in, shaking their heads. Names were taken. Charges implied. The woman in the Chanel who drove the Mercedes was going to sue the salon for...I'm not sure what...but Kate and I agreed to be on the witness list. "We saw it all, Officers," we told them as we signed a yellow pad. Then it was over. The woman left. Our nails were dry. The owner of the salon offered the officers a free manicure or pedicure if they liked. The larger of the two, a Hispanic man, said, "Maybe I'll send my wife over here." Kate thinks these kinds of stories just follow me around. This is kind of what I love about traveling. And about LA. I'm not sure I can see this incident going down quite like this in NYC. The playing field is a little evener here, but it is nice to get away and have the cops called because of a manicure. And I am pleased to report that no arrests were made at the salon.