“Let me see ’em.”
I timidly put my hands out.
“No, turn ’em over. Let me see those nails,” she growled.
I slowly turned them over.
“Oh.My.God. Look at all that dirt. What have you been doin’?!? I’ll be right back.”
“Aw, grandma! Do we have to?”
Up she shot from the brown naugahyde chair. A few minutes later she came back with a bowl of warm water and Palmolive, a file, some clippers, a new toothbrush, nail polish, – usually red – and her Pearl Drops.
She sat down and arranged all her tools, moved the pink marble ashtray closer because we were going to be here a while, and patted her knee, “Come on.” Cigarette smoke swirled from the tip of the Virginia Slim she held between her lips.
I climbed up on her lap for the ritual.
“Go on, put your hands in the water.” Then she would begin. She’d dig, and scrape, clip, file and shape. She’d use her Smoker’s Pearl Drops and that brand new super firm toothbrush to polish the tips to make them sparkling white. Then she’d coat my little nails in some garish shade she had. She always had nail polish. What seemed like hundreds of bottles and lipstick to match.
She’d hold my hands up and show them to me. “Now, doesn’t that look better? Why don’t you take better care of your hands? They’re gorgeous. You could be a hand model!”
I’d walk away admiring them but Grandma Lipstick’s manicures never lasted very long. I had to be back at it, digging in the dirt, playing rough, chipping up that bright red nail polish.
To this day I don’t paint my nails. I still use them as multi-tools. What’s the use? But I still like to polish them up every now and then with Pearl Drops if I can find it anywhere.