When I was a kid, every six months or so my Alaskan cousins would send an enormous box of clothes they didn’t want anymore. My sisters and I would put on immediate fashion shows, feeling the richness of it all– and, at least for me, a little anxiety: what if someone else tried to claim my coveted item?
When I went to Savers this week, I bought three mixed bags of nail polish. A few years ago, when I finally purchased nail polish for the first time in over a decade, I was shocked and rather horrified that it was no longer $1.25/bottle; $9 for more than a dozen colors, and some very random purple body glitter, felt much more like what I was looking for: That sudden, surprising richness– of the cousins’ hand-me-downs or a babysitter’s manicure stash.
What is nail polish but pure indulgence?
Tonight my son and I sat down to try them out. He wasn’t at all interested in me giving him the salon treatment– much to my surprise, as I remember some hazy instance of the aforementioned beautiful, teenage babysitter painting my nails as I held my breath.
He painted with abandon. He broke rules I hadn’t even known I knew (namely, draw the brush straight along the nail from cuticle to tip, not at an angle on the diagonal!). He didn’t care at all that he colored outside the lines. He was thrilled to have black with red glitter on top. (He was, at least, impressed by how little I got on my hands).
So we sat there, cardboard protecting the table, unscrewing tiny bottles that were of no use to anyone else but were a delightful Why Not? to us. We watched “Hilda” on Netflix while the polish dried.
So, there was beauty in indulgence, in color, in the thrill of a bargain, in the marvelous boy who lives in a culture that allows him to have fun with a stereotypically feminine thing. And there was beauty of all the little moments that linked up: cousins and elegant teenagers, and choosing bright colors at home in the winter dark.