Color me happy

September 13, 2022
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Once a month, Rico makes an appointment for me to get my nails done. I should probably go more often, but I’m pretty sure I would get banned from the nail salon. Andy is the designated manicurist for my monthly visit, bless his heart, after four years we have a ritual.

I arrive promptly, Andy hands over the color samples and disappears. He comes back, and I’m still looking, he leaves. This happens one, sometimes two more times, depending on Andy’s patience that day. Then he zones in on the colors I’m fretting over, makes the decision or picks another color completely and says, “This is better for you. Sit.” Immediately he gets to work and I’m in and out in an hour or less, otherwise, I start to fidget, mess up my nails and Andy gets this pained expression like I’m deliberately torturing him and has to start over. We don’t talk, there is no massaging of the hands, arms or shoulders, no small talk.

I sit there and contemplate the color of my nails, lost in memories. I’m easy, but I’m not. Andy’s learned to do one nail and let me admire it, because sometimes the feeling I had initially for the color wanes and I become fickle, the shade eliciting an emotion I can’t imagine having for three weeks.

I gravitate towards reds. Classic red makes me think of 1950’s sunglasses with rhinestones, flirty. Fire engine red means business. I’m short on time, wired hot like a stolen convertible! Christmas red is a whole different vibe, cheery, happy, let’s decorate them up with little trees, Santa hats and bows! Reds with an orange or pink undertone have to be immediately taken off and we start over.

Pinks are next in line, they sweet talk me. Shimmery pink has me sittin’ on a porch swing, drinking sweet tea with a lemon wedge, chatting with my seester about plants, kids and men. French tips are respectfully subtle, instead give me a Victoria’s Secret pink with black tips and I’ll wear the bra and panties to match. Rosy pinks warm my soul like watering dahlias at twilight in July with the soundtrack of kids laughing in the background. Don’t come near me with neon or hot pinks, my face smushes up like a teenager with an attitude.

In between the reds and pinks is grape bubbalicious nails, tart and sassy, hanging upside down on monkey bars, blowing bubbles so big  they pop on your face. Coral peach like the inside of a seashell in Florida, warm kisses behind your ear, wet sand under your feet. Slate metallic black, like a freight train headed straight to hell with gloomy, moody January. Heavenly blue, light as wish, not to be confused with glittery midnight blue full of infinite dreams. Maroons and burnt oranges the colors of changing oak leaves in the fall, pumpkins and fields being plowed under.

Each shade and feeling are closely intertwined with my inner child, in love with the color, happy and bratty. After I leave I’m like a little girl who keeps catching a glimpse of them and has to stop to admire the shine, the details, the way they sparkle in the light. If I’m typing or texting and notice my nails, I have to stop, close my eyes and let the color wash over my soul like a smile. All those little bottles of polish full of sensations and memories -- and Andy quietly encouraging them.

Delilah McMasters is a local resident and the mother of six. Reach her at

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