Friday, March 8, 2013


A dear friend of mine delighted me with a narrative about her fun foray into turquoise, one of the ‘different’, shall we say, nail polish colors. The colors are not so new to the world, though I really do think that any but the red and pinkish shades are ugly, but they’re new to senior gals like us. She got me to thinking about finger nails – and there lies (lay?) an essay.

Nails? I just try to keep mine clean and neat. My Mom never used polish on her nails, although she had lovely hands. I must be a throwback: I’ve got short, stubby hands. My father was a pianist and had long fingers, but I can just about reach an octave. To top it off, I bit my nails until just before I was married. Couldn’t have ratty nails when I showed off my new, old wedding ring (it’s my husband’s Grandmother’s wedding ring from Norway in 1901) so I finally let my nails grow. If you know what you’re looking at, you can tell that I bit my nails for years. I know several gals with model-worthy hands and nails. I think they’ve been taking good care of their hands and nails since waaaay back. It’s ingrained in them, not in me.

This wasn't me - I bit my nails for years.
Good grooming is ingrained in many if not most women. As a young girl, the closest I got to any tips and know-how was the Good Grooming Badge in Girl Scouts. It’s not that my Mom wasn’t well groomed – she was. It’s just that she rarely if ever had my sister or me in to see what she did with herself: Mom had too much on her plate to even think about stuff like that. I do know that she was one of those women who couldn’t wear perfume – it turned sour on her and reeked. And she loved the smell of perfume – her favorite was always Chanel N°5. She kept a bottle of it on her dresser and gave it a sniff every once in a while.

I think that my Mom absorbed her grooming knowledge from her older sister. Like me, she wasn’t very good at teaching others the things she had just assimilated from observation. She just did her morning prep and that was that. In my mind’s eye, as I think about such things, I can see myself only watching her cook, clean the house, or take care of chores. I can’t ‘hear’ that she’s telling me anything – I’m just watching her. Oooh yes – she did teach us the proper way to iron. I get a ‘visual’ on that one! I think she hated to iron. I know that in later years she told me that when we were little she had enough hand-me-down dresses for my sister and me and enough playsuits for my brother so she had to iron only once a month. It was economical to be in a family with lots of cousins. She was delighted when we went to school and wore uniforms.

Maybe Mom was unconscious of us is a way. When I started on a ‘real’ job – not just baby-sitting and summer jobs – I bought a lovely, lacy slip with some of my first pay check. Mom commented that she didn’t know I liked such frilly things. No, of course she didn’t. We never thought to complain or comment on what she purchased for us. It wasn’t in us to have comments or complaints. She purchased whatever we needed and what she purchased in the way of most clothing was to her own tailored taste.

The Girl Scout Good Grooming badge showed Cinderella’s pumpkin and glass slipper. Well, I was sort of the pumpkin type. Oh, I was allowed use a little Tangee lipstick on occasion – remember that stuff? You can still get it at Vermont Country Store - but that was about it until I spent some summer money and learned a bit about makeup from a friend. She didn’t use much either, so it was almost the blind leading the blind.

But here I am at seventy, and I think I’ve done all right by myself in the grooming department. Because my hair is blond verging on white, if I don’t want to look blank as my blond aunts did in their old age I have to use eyebrow pencil and mascara. But those and a bit of lipstick seem to do the trick. Sometimes we oldsters go about things wither with complete neglect or with a heavy hand, so I’ve asked my stepdaughter and daughter-in-law to tell me if I make a mess of anything or need more of something in the way of my grooming efforts for my face or body.  I appreciate all the help I can get!

I'm more of a plain moth than a butterfly.


1 comment:

  1. A little P.S. to your great post:

    The turquoise nails grew "old" verrrrry quickly. By the next day I was tired of them; I felt like some old bag trying to look young.

    So I'm happily back to plain-jane bare fingernails - or (when I'm feeling fancy), very pale pink nail strengthener.

    Oddly enough, I have no problems at all with deep-coloured toenails; in fact, I intend to have turquoise toenails this summer to go with my bathing suit and sandals - and when I tire of that, I'll switch to navy blue, or perhaps lilac!

    I think I'll draw the line at green, though; I imagine it might be too much like looking at ten healing bruises!

    Cheers from your friendly closet "colour-girl"