Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Pearl Drops



“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.

11 thoughts on “Pearl Drops

  1. I don’t think I could have sat still that long.

    A nice story. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Are you and Zoe communicating telepathecallly today? Both stories featured smokers. I just assumed everyone’s parents and grandparents smoked. I’ve got three siblings and not one of us ever smoked. . .I think we got our fill growing up; the second-hand experience must have been enough for many of us.

    Your grandmother sounds like she might have been a character, eh?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Maybe. I did notice a theme.

      All three of my siblings have been smokers. My older sister quit several years ago. My two younger siblings still smoke. I tried it. It wasn’t my thing. At.All. I’ve never understood the appeal but I guess I never did it enough for the nicotine to give me any kind of…whatever it’s supposed to do.

      A character would be an understatement.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So your pearly white teeth take priority over hot-red manicured fingernails!? 😮 You’re SUCH a Princess! (chuckling)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Being a Princess is not anything I’ve ever been associated with. While I don’t use the Pearl Drops on my teeth I will likely always find them a priority to fancy schmancy fingernails because I really like to eat.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can SO relate! Like you, I use my nails like a Swiss Army knife; but as a writer I need to keep them short (I type so fast and so much that I wear out / off the letters of 2 keyboards a year, without the long nails chipping away the lettering). Like your grandma though, I also have dozens of bottles of nail polish; these days I tend to use them for crafts… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lovely writing. I can imagine your nails as you typed it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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