When I presented my painted nails to Sarah and our friend Sonia, they both sort of shrugged, perplexed, the way you might react to an incomplete sketch. "Uhhh, let me redo them," Sarah said, handing me the nail polish remover. After Sarah painted them over, I gawked, dumbstruck, at my hands. "These look, like, professionally done," I remarked. We poured ourselves more wine.
When I got back to New York, I was excited to show off my "new look" to my friends. I'd always harbored fantasies - all well documented on this here blog - of dying my hair blond or getting a small tattoo, and this felt like a smaller-scale version of those moves, a way of effecting psychological change through a physical one. I was somewhat discouraged, however, to arrive at dinner on my first night back and have my friend ask, "Ummm, did your fingers get slammed by a door or something?" I hadn't realized until that moment just how much the dark polish on the four fingers visually resembled bruises. "No," I said, "It's nail polish." "And why just four?" she asked. "No reason, really," I said, somewhat annoyed and self-conscious. On the subway later, I looked up from my magazine and for this really weird and disconcerting split second, I didn't recognize the fingers holding the pole as my own.
(Related observation: You become so aware of your fingers when they're painted... especially when you're typing, when you're gesticulating, when you're eating, when you're washing your hands, etc. It's kind of like the "your own hands" equivalent, I guess, of when you notice an actor's weird facial tic and you can't concentrate on his acting anymore because you're so focused on the bizarre blinking thing he does when he speaks or whatever. In a way that I found kind of thrilling (?), it makes you so much more conscious of your physicality.)
It took about three weeks before the chipping began and I swiftly removed the polish (I didn't want to be riding around town in a car with dents and a missing bumper). Now, reflecting on the "experience," I feel kind of... proud of myself? I would never have dared traipse around New York - do things like hand over money at Duane Reade, sit in a business meeting, etc. - with painted nails before, I dunno, six months ago maybe. Most of my friends didn't notice or thought the nails looked ridiculous, but ultimately I found myself not caring about that, either - a realization which also pleased me. Really, I just liked how they looked; and I liked how I would forget they were painted and then notice them and remember again. When it comes to shaking things up, a little paint goes a surprisingly long way.