Just before Steve returned from Gabon, I went for a manicure and pedicure at a nail shop at the Old Capitol Mall, which is in downtown Iowa City. I’ve had an array of weird nail care experiences since landing here, beginning with an appointment I set up while I was here helping Steve move in. I picked a salon at random, showed up at the appointed hour, and turned down the offer of a glass of wine. It was, after all, 2 p.m.
A nice woman led me back to the pedicure chair, where I set to soaking my feet, a copy of the salon brochure in hand. I’d grabbed it at the front desk when I checked in, and slid it in the front cover of the book I’d brought.
Once in the chair, I slid it back out, browsed through it, and stopped dead at the part where I realized I’d just begun the journey toward a $65 spa pedicure. Back in D.C., I went to a woman who did a combined (non-spa) manicure and pedicure for $30, and I’d been expecting prices in Iowa City to be lower, not twice as high.
When another salon employee came in to see how I was doing, she asked, “Are you sure you don’t want anything? Water? Coffee? Wine?”
I glanced back down at the price list. “What kind of wine did you say you had?” I asked.
This most recent experiment in Iowa City nail care was much more in line with the Virginia shop I used to go to, and the polish on my toenails lasted almost a month, a single nail’s worth finally flaking off late in my week in the D.C. area. I’ve been too lazy since I returned to actually take off the rest of the polish, but this morning, I couldn’t stand it any longer.
After I got out of the shower before work, I reached in the bathroom cupboard for the nail polish remover, doused a cotton ball, and commenced polish removal. I rubbed, and rubbed, and rubbed, and rubbed, and cursed under my breath. The polish wasn’t budging, and residue wasn’t even coming off on the cotton ball.
Maybe they used house paint. Maybe this was why the polish had lasted so long, through nearly 28 days of sandal-wearing, and swimming, and other polish-demolishing activities along the way. Maybe it was truly indestructible.
Then, suddenly, I realized that the polish remover smelled very familiar, but not very much like, well, polish remover.
I whirled around to examine the bottle, which I’d stuck behind me on the flat top of the radiator unit. There it was. My bottle of swimmers’ ear remedy, which, while excellent on basil scale, does absolutely nothing for nail polish removal.
I tried again with acetone, and the polish came right off. Shortly afterwards, I sat down at my laptop to check email, and noticed there was an email from the Emergency Network. A fog advisory had been issued across Eastern Iowa until 10 a.m.