Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pass the tiara

Sometimes I have to wonder why I'm doing what I'm doing. Right now, for instance, I know why I'm typing this very slowly and carefully in two-finger fashion--so that I don't smudge my freshly-applied nail polish. What I don't know is why I polished my nails tonight or why I've recently taken to polishing them several times a week after spending the past 18 or more years not polishing them at all. Have I finally reached Princesshood?

That's the reason I polished my nails the first time: so I could be a princess. To a small girl, becoming a princess seems quite simple: all it requires is a twirly dress, a sparkly tiara, and pink nail polish--and a Fairy Godmother wouldn't hurt.

By adolescence, though, all that pinkness gets swept away to make room for more sophisticated colors like the green glittery nail polish I sported during my seventh-grade year, the polish that made my mother put her hand to her forehead, sigh deeply, and ask if anything was bothering me. Then there were the many little bottles of deep burgundy nail polish one after the other, year after year, after I decided that it was easier to stick with a color I liked instead of constantly trying out something new that might very well turn out to be a hideous mistake.

Then suddenly I was an adult and the proud owner of a white sofa that stayed pristine only until the first time I tried to paint my nails in the living room, at which point it became the white sofa with the pink stain. And then there were children. Somewhere in there I stopped wearing jewelry (because my son was a grabber--I gave up earrings after the first time he pulled one right out of my ear and popped it into his mouth). And then I had a house and two children and a job and grad school, and doing my nails just dropped right off my priority list.

Now it's back on again but I can't come up with a good reason why. People ask. During all those busy years, no one ever asked me why my nails looked as if they'd been trimmed by rabid wolverines wielding hedge-clippers, but now they want to know: what's with nail polish? And I don't know what to tell them. Maybe it's a midlife crisis. Maybe I'm due for a whole-body makeover. Or maybe it's finally my time to be a princess.

Where's that Fairy Godmother when I need her?

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