Strange Angels and Nonverbal Hilarity


Getting a French manicure isn’t usually this eventful.

As I sat in Angels Nails today getting my toes done along with my once every few year  French manicure,  a strange man came into the shop.  More on this in a moment…

First, let me paint the picture for you. The salon is owned and run by a Vietnamese staff,  all of whom rarely speak English to their customers. They communicate as best they can using broken English with a thick accent and, when necessary, some sign language. During your service they all speak to each other, never to you.  Oh, how I wish I could understand what they were saying. It’s like having a secret code language. They could say anything!

“This lady has the worst nails I’ve ever seen.”

“You take this one! She’s a terrible tipper.”

“Don’t make me come over there and use this electric file on you!”

“Look at all this dog hair on her pants! Does she know this will fall into the drain and clog up everything?”

The possibilities are endless. I try to figure it out based on body language and facial expressions. It’s like watching a foreign TV channel and trying to get the gist of the show. I love it.

But today we all, the staff AND the patrons, spoke together in the universal language of raised eyebrows, curious glances, and smiles.

As I was getting Bogota Blackberry brushed across my toes, the aforementioned man came into the shop. He was in his late sixties, white, thin, medium height and  had on well-worn, but clean, khaki pants and a nondescript casual shirt and jacket. He had short white hair and a scraggly-trimmed, short white beard and glasses. The Sherlock Holmes in me started to size him up. Does he look weathered or pale? Geologist or construction worker? Is he wearing bifocals or cheaters….hmmm.. Motive? Hmmmm.

He grabbed one of the business cards in his free hand. In the other he held a plastic King Soopers bag and an open glass bottle of Coke. Ahhh.. I’ve got it!  He is here to get a gift card for his wife. Case solved, Watson!

(Remind me not to go into the detective business,…I was wrong on all counts.)

Kim, the owner, said  “May I help you?”

He replied, “No, I just want your card so I can come in tomorrow.  I’m too tired today.” My nail tech and I exchanged glances. [Translation: Getting a manicure is relaxing and not a lot of work for you, Sir.} He looked down at his fingernails and began picking at them.

Next he made eye contact with many of us in the room and smiled, then loudly said “Hi.” He asked if he could have a drink and pointed to the small glass fridge holding tiny bottles of water. My tech and I exchanged glances again. [Translation: Aren’t you drinking a Coke right now?]

He proceeded to grab a water, not drink it, and announce that he was just going to look at the colors. We glanced again. [Translation: Is he planning to rob the place? What is in that bag?]

Next he asked if he could try a color on a nail. Now, trying a color on one nail is a typical practice to check out if you like it.  So, Kim, with a raised eyebrow and puzzled glance, replied affirmatively again.  At this point all eyes were darting around the room. He didn’t fit the description of a man you would think would want color on his nails. Plenty of men get manicures, but polish?  That’s usually left to the rock stars, emo kids, and maybe someone participating in the #polishedman social media campaign.  My next guess was that he was homeless…possibly seeing what free stuff was in the store.  But again, not a guy you’d picture ever getting his nails colored.

At this point he could clearly see the only “free stuff” he could get here was an itty bity water and a Dum Dum, which he did not take. So, I started ruling out the homeless possibility. Especially because he was drinking the most expensive type of bottled Coke you can buy.

He then proceeded to sit at a table and paint all ten of his fingernails with a deep cerulean. Now it was getting awkward and the glances became more intense. [Translation: What the heck? Why blue? Why paint your own nails in a nail salon? Is he going to pay for that?]

Before his nails had time to dry, he stood up and shouted goodbye or …..thank you.  I’m not sure because he said it three times in three languages, none of which I speak. As soon as the door closed behind him, the nail tech to my left burst out laughing and said, “What he think? This ALL Asian salon.” I asked her what languages he had used. She told me: Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

So who was this mysterious man? I’ve decided he was a strangel. That’s my new word for strange angel. It was Angels Nails, after all. His purpose? No idea. Maybe it was just to get us all speaking the same language. If so, it worked.

One thought on “Strange Angels and Nonverbal Hilarity

  1. I’ve met quite a few strangels in my life… He was lonely and needed to reach out to someone on some level. Glad that person was you.


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