After a six month search I think I may have finally found a nail salon that I will frequent. You laugh? It was a serious hunt in my newly adopted neighborhood.

Getting one’s nails done is rarely just about base coat, two coats of color, and a top coat. That–I can do at home. Getting one’s nails done is about slowing down, being pampered, and gaining a coat of self confidence in a sassy shade.

There are smells inherent when walking into a nail salon: polish, acetone, soap, rubbing alcohol and lotion. After a couple of trips, you become used to the pungent combination and associate it with the relaxation about to come. As a result, I can walk into a nail salon and immediately I’m calmer and happier.

A good nail salon is clean, nicely decorated, staffed with efficient and friendly technicians and it’s somewhat busy. It doesn’t need to be packed wall to wall (though for a good manicure, I’ve been known to wait)–but when I’m the only person in there for nearly an hour when it’s a normal time that there should be customers–it makes me a little nervous.

Within those walls, women and men come for the pampering. To have tired hands and feet soaked in a warm bath, scrubbed (feet) or gently washed (hands), wrapped in a hot towel, lotioned and massaged is incredibly decadent. Cuticles are delicately trimmed or pushed back to prevent hangnails. And then polish is applied or they are buffed to a beautiful shine. Finally you settle into a chair by an ultraviolet dryer with fans and, at a lot of places, you get a minute of a shoulder massage.

Having your nails done requires you to slow down for an hour. No one wants a manicure ruined–especially when you’re paying a fair amount of money–so you take the time to ensure that it’s dry. There shouldn’t be a rushed atmosphere in a nail salon, even when it’s busy. You should be able to shut down for a while, maybe even turn off your cell phone (who wants to go digging in a purse with wet nails?), and flip through the latest fashion magazine.

When I walk out of a manicure (or a mani/pedi combo), I always feel more confident. My hands look good and, even though the polish is dry, I’m still much more conscious of my hands and going digging in purse. I feel prettier and it makes me happier to deal with others–as long as they aren’t messing up my hands or stepping on my toes.

My manicures usually look “decent” for about ten days–and that’s with me doing everything I normally do, including typing, dishes and (last night) dismantling a desktop tower and pulling the hard drive. I’m more likely to wear the paint off than to chip it. It’s more expensive here than I ‘d like but there are days that it’s very worth it.

Oh–the place? on Halstead

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Hedgehog.