It’s not you; it’s me

For the past 13 years, I’ve been going every four or five weeks to get a manicure and pedicure. Sorry; I mean a mani-pedi. That sounds way cooler, doesn’t it?

My manicurist’s name is Jenny and for a manicurist, she is rather elegant. She wears her hair in a neat Hillary Clinton-like bob with a headband. The earrings and necklaces she wears are of traditional gemstones like rubies and aquamarines. Over her cashmere sweaters she always wears a long, black salon apron, about which she fastens a fashionable belt with a rhinestone buckle.

Every time —every time, for 13 years — when I come in and sit down at her little table, she looks down at my hands and says the exact same things. “Ohh, nails so dry-uh!” [translation: my goodness, your nails seem dry] “You nails have lidges [ridges]; you low brood fresher [blood pressure]?” You all the time sooo hard work; dishy-washy, creaning, creaning.” And I allow as to yes, all that is true of me, and then she gets to work.

Jenny is a very, very good manicurist. She’s extremely thorough (my appointment runs about an hour and forty-five minutes), uses only the best quality products, and has a commitment to cleanliness without equal. So while these things give me a great deal of trust and confidence in her, at the same time they make her quite a bit more expensive than others in her profession. My regular visits to her probably add up to somewhere north of $1,000 dollars a year, tips included.

So you can imagine why, in this economy, I might be tempted to want to go elsewhere — somewhere a little less pricey — for this particular service. Or maybe scale back a bit: just get the pedicure, perhaps, and skip the manicure (I do a lot with my hands, as she has noted, and the manicure rarely stays good for longer than 3 or 4 days, tops).

But my problem is, I don’t know how to break up with my manicurist. We’ve been together for 13 years, after all; we know each other pretty well and things are pretty comfortable. But one of us is not so happy anymore, and kind of wants, well, out.

But the other one is not making it easy. Each time as we are finishing up my appointment, she gets out her book and sweetly tells me when I’ll be coming back. “So, next month, you come Priday, Sepetembah seven. One o’clock?” And, assertive as I am, I answer, “No! It’s too expensive! I love the pedicure but the manicure’s just going to chip off in three days and it’s a waste of good money to even have one! I can’t afford this anymore!”

Not really. That only happens in my head. In real life, I don’t say anything at all except, “Okay,” then write out a check and enter the appointment date in my calendar. Then I drive home and imagine all sorts of scenarios in which I tell Jenny things like, “I think we should see other people manicurists. Well, I should.” Or, “Really, it’s not you; it’s me.” Or, harshest of all: “I’m just not that into you. Your manicures, that is. And how much it’s costing me.”

One of these days I’m going to have to come up with a way to really do this. A more likely scenario is I’ll just keep going back every month until she decides to retire. Because in any breakup, nobody ever wants to be the one who’s doing the dumping.

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