Yesterday I was able to steal a few precious hours for the rare manicure/pedicure excursion. (Side note: When I had my physical recently, my doctor took one look at my anxiety-ravaged hangnails and cuticles and told me that weekly manicures would be a good idea. Who am I to go against doctor's orders?) I tucked a book that my friend loaned me into my bag and sailed into the salon filled with anticipation of an hour of quiet reading and pleasant conversation with the ladies there.
Emma greets me at the door. (That's not her real name. That's the name she told me to use, but the name her momma gave her is from her language of origin. I saw it on her cosmotology license. And I don't think it's Emma). Emma was delighted that my name was Jennifer, as that's "so easy to remember," settled me into a chair and watched curiously as I pulled out my book.
Emma: Nobody's Cutter Than You. What's that about?
Me: Oh! It's a memoir about two best friends. It chronicles 25 years of their friendship. The title is from a joke that they have, that no one in the world could POSSIBLY be cuter than each other. (This was my polite way of correcting her reading of cuter as cutter).
Emma: (gives me the side eye): It's about best friends?
We are quiet for awhile. Then, Emma LAUNCHES INTO IT.
Emma: You have to be careful with best friends. And with nannies. You have a nanny?
Me: Well, yes. We don't call her that, but I have a wonderful woman who takes care of my kids while I work. (And when I very occasionally get a medically required mani/pedi).
Emma: Watch out for that nanny. Is she old?
Me: No. She's not.
Emma: She's younger than you?
Emma: THAT IS A VERY BAD IDEA! That is not SMART! She is going to take your husband! In my country, all of the nannies are old! At least 55 or older! The women in my country are not dumb like American women! This nanny will steal your husband and take your babies! I tell you the truth!
I assure her that this is not the case. Her response:
A side eye and a noisy HRUMPH.
I spend the next several minutes thinking about how the conversation got from me sharing that I was reading a book celebrating the relationship between best friends to her complete disgust at my poor nanny hiring judgment. We sit in silence for awhile, and, slightly befuddled, I return to reading my book.
Emma: Best friends will also take husbands.
Me: Excuse me?
Emma: BEST. FRIENDS. TAKE. HUSBANDS.
Me: Ok. . . . .
Emma: My cousin married an American girl. She's a doctor. He's an engineer. He has a good job. She has a best friend. The best friend has a husband. They are all friends together. Best friends. My cousin's wife says she is sleeping at the hospital on lots of nights. SHE WASN'T! She was with her best friend's husband! She took her friend's husband!
I murmur my condolences and cluck over how awful that would be for her cousin.
Emma: She could have made it better, but she was RECKLESS. My cousin would never take her back now.
Emma: Because I told you she was RECKLESS! She had the best friend's husband's baby!
Me: Oh. No.
Emma: YES!!! And the best friend took her husband back, and the stupid American doctor now has a baby, no man, and no best friend!
Again, I cluck and murmur my condolences. We (mercifully) settle into silence for a bit. I begin to read my book again.
Emma: Do you have a best friend?
Me: I have several really close, really wonderful women in my life. Lots and lots. I love my friends.
Emma: That's a bad idea. They will take your husband.
This is when it becomes clear that I have done a poor job presenting the content of this book, and that I have been a truly bad ambassador for both friendship AND marriage. It was officially my least effective book talk ever. I was not clear. I was not concise. I did not convey the theme of the book or the intent of the author. I think we had lost something in translation here, as my sweet book on friendship was bringing about some serious tales of betrayal. THIS WAS MORE INTENSE THAN REALITY TV, and that's saying something, as I consider myself an expert in that field. I felt a little defeated. . . I mean, as defeated as one can feel while having one of the most heavenly foot massages in the history of the world. Emma finds women very suspicious, but she can give a mean foot massage. Just don't try to be her friend, or she will think you are trying to take her man.
At the end of the pedicure, I thanked Emma profusely, and expressed that it was so kind of her to do this for me and that I was grateful.
Emma: Let me see that book again. "Nobody's cutter than you." (She carefully examines the book). Oh! Cutter is different than cuter. Cuter is nice, right? That is a book about nice best friends?
Me: Yes And I think you should read it. I think you might need a different perspective on friendship. And on American women, for that matter.
Emma: HRUMPH. Nice. Not mean? Nice. Cuter is different than cutter, yes?
Me: Yes. Much different.
Yes. Different. Never underestimate the power of the double consonant. Or of a manicurist whose second language is English who also shares parables of wayward men, conniving nannies, and shady best friends. Both make for some serious entertainment. And my nails aren't half bad, either. And don't worry, Emma. I won't go trying to be your nanny. Or your BFF. I wouldn't want you to get the wrong idea. HRUMPH.