by Izzy McHale
from The Pet Boutique Mysteries by Annie Knox
I confess: I love girly stuff. I'm not talking about fashion. (I do love a good schoolgirl plaid skirt, but only if paired with a pair of high top sneakers and a studded leather cuff.) I'm talking about all the other accoutrements of girlhood: scented bath salts, French milled soaps, deep-cleansing masques ... all of the mysterious and delicious items girls use to make themselves pretty, soft, and alluring.
My fascination with beauty products has some drawbacks, though. Most notably, it means I get suckered into buying all sorts of potions and lotions that promise miracles and deliver ... well, nothing.
When I first moved to Madison to attend UW, I discovered my first nail salon. Imagine that ... a whole business devoted to arcane beauty rituals. Not hair dos (so pedestrian), but gel manicures, paraffin dips, waxing, hot stone massages ... I was in heaven.
And I met an angel named Vivi. Streaks of platinum in her straight black hair, tiny palm trees painted on her sky blue nails, and sterling feathers dangling from her earlobes, she plopped my fingertips in a bowl of sudsy water and started unscrewing little bottles of this and that.
"You want design?" she asked, waggling her palm tree-tips at me in enticement.
"How about lash tint? No more mascara."
Since I'm about as Irish as a round of soda bread with hair the color of a good pint of Guinness, I couldn't imagine my lashes more tinted than they already were. "No, thanks."
She cocked her head, eyes narrowed, appraising me like a loose diamond. "Lotsa hair," she muttered.
I blew a lock off my forehead and smiled. "Yeah, thanks."
"No." She grimaced and brushed her fingers across her cheeks. "Lotsa hair."
I felt my face begin to burn in mortification.
"Wax?" she offered slyly.
"Sure." I mean, this sweet little woman had all but called me a Sasquatch. I couldn't very well say, 'no, thank you, I'd just as soon keep my luxuriant facial hair.'
And so I let Vivi go at my face with a pot of hot wax and strips of muslin. It burned like fire, but Vivi smiled like I was a favorite dog who had just completed a new trick. So when she asked again about lash tinting, I caved. And I decided that I might need little daisies on my newly lavender fingernails.
I'd entered with the nail salon with a dusting of hair on my cheeks, but left with my face puffy, red, and raw from the overheated wax. I'd entered with black lashes, and I left with black lashes that burned every time I blinked. I'd entered with ordinary fingernails, and I left with nails that looked like they'd been designed by a second grade girl.
Sometimes, being a girly girl just doesn't pay.
What about you? Are you a girly girl? A tomboy? Elegant or trendy? Spill your style!
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Annie Knox's first Pet Boutique Mystery will be out in early 2013. Until then, join Annie on Facebook!