I'm in a wedding Saturday, which is one of the rare occasions I get a mani/pedi instead of painting my nails myself.
I get my eyebrows waxed near my house at the cheapest place ever. It's run by a bunch of Asian ladies who wear these funny smock-shirt things with no actual shirt underneath, so I can see all their bras. My hair grows at lightning speed, so I'm in there roughly every eight days. Every eight days, I walk in and it's packed but quiet except for the sounds of foot scraping and that machine that smokes when they take off fake nails, and every time I walk in, the owner lady, who wears a mask is usually doing someone's nails, asks, "Manicure, pedicure?" And every eight days I answer, "Wax." And then sometimes, even though I KNOW she heard me, she says, "What? Manicure, pedicure?" And I have to go, "WAX."
So anyway, during these visits I've seen that mani/pedis are ONLY $27 dollars for both, and with the wedding coming up of course I've thought to myself, "This is a perfectly affordable way to probably contract a nail fungus."
Everything is fine until the foot scraping part. I hate this part. I've always had lots of callouses, and when I was in junior high my mom used to say it was just because I was athletic, but I think she was lying like a good mother should. My friends were in sports with me, and it's not like I was training for the Olympics on the side. Also, the first time I ever got a pedicure I was 20 and the woman picked up my foot and goes, "Do you RUN?!?" Of course I didn't run back then, so I said "Yeah." And secondly, my feet are so ticklish it hurts. When the lady squeezes my foot and buffs it, I can't breathe and I clench my feet, and I do little kicks and alternate between saying "sorry" and making a laughy "ehhh" noise.
So finally it was manicure time and there was an older lady named Pam sitting beside me. Pam had a short gray bob and a mustache and was kinda boisterous/chit-chatty. She reminds me of Kathy Bates's character in Fried Green Tomatoes who shouts, "TOWANDA!!!"
Pam was the only one talking/shouting in the salon, and I heard her ask the mask lady, "How many kids do you have? Just the one?"
Mask Lady: One.
Pam: ONE! Just ONE???
Mask Lady: Yeah.
Mask Lady: I too old.
Pam: Oh, I figured it was because in China you can only have one.
(In my brain: OMG, Pam! That's kind of an awkward thing to say, right? Maybe it's not ... I don't know. Wait, am I the one that's ignorant for thinking this is specifically something you SHOULDN'T say? Maybe it's perfectly acceptable — what's wrong with me? Wait, is Mask Lady for sure Chinese? Are they friends? Wait, no, you definitely shouldn't say that ... Hmmm ... Wipeout is on TV ...)
Pam: You can only have one there, right?
Mask Lady: Yeah.
Pam: WHY! JUST ONE???
Mask Lady: Too many people China.
Pam: Just one. What do they do if you have two ... kill it?
(OH MY GOD PAM, just stop. That has to be crossing the line. Oh my god. Nobody is answering!)
(dead, long, dead dead silence)
Mask Lady: (looks at me with weird smile, I think mocking Pam but I cannot be sure) Yeah. Surgery. Remove.
Pam: Wow. I can't believe it. You can only have one ... Huh ...
Mask Lady: Yeah, too many people.
Pam: Everybody goes along with that?
Pam: One's probably enough for ya. Wait, you have a brother don't you?
Mask Lady: No.
Pam: Yeaaah, YOU have a brother!
Mask Lady: Yeah. That was before.
Pam: Oh, that was before the rule? Well I'm glad your brother got outta that China! How many kids does he have? Just ONE?
Pam: One kid, huh. What if you have TWINS? THEY KILL ONE TWIN?!? Just one kid, I can't believe it.
(PHEW. This is over. That was really intense. The nerve some people have! Such a sensitive topic, I'd think. Relax, Hillary. Phew. Pam's watching Wipeout on the TV now and isn't talking anymore about killing kids and it's over. Everybody's okay. Why didn't I just go get a mani/pedi with Kari tomorrow morning instead of this crazy place? I'm hungry. I don't have any wine at home. I don’t have to work tomorrow, woo hoo! Maybe I’ll just go to bed. Sleepy.)
Hillary: Wait, so what if you get a divorce and then marry somebody else — can you have another kid with that person or what?
(WTF did I say that for?!? Stop!)
Pam: YEAH GOOD QUESTION!!!
This was supposed to be the end of my story, but I will tell you the answer:
Mask Lady: If one person have kid and one don't, you have one kid. If both person have kid, can't have kid.
Hillary B. lives in Chicago with her cat.
Photo via Flickr/dno1967b