“How do you keep your nails so nice while you’re here,” the red-haired, older lady asked across the table. I loved how she did that whole Cruella DeVille thing with the front of her short and sassy cut, a mix of a fiery red and a creamy blonde lightning bolt in the front of her head, resting right between her brows.
“It’s funny you should ask,” I gleamed, resting both hands to my chest, to make sure she could see that yes, all of my fingers had been painted a cheery and bright shade of In Yo Face Peach. “I just got them done today!”
One of the things that I dreaded about coming to Lagos was my (now perceived) inability to keep up my (very few) beauty routines. I only have a couple:
Manicures and pedicures: because who wants to bend over and paint their own toes or become ambidextrous enough to paint both hands with precision?
Eyebrow grooming: because I have the ability to grow eyebrows like the Wolverine grows a wicked beard and although we all know Hugh Jackman is a gift from God, I, on the other hand, am just a woman with facial hair that was inherited by some distant, wolf-like ancestor.
I decided to venture to a place called Marbella for the aforementioned beauty treatments.
When I walked in the door, the Lagos heat continued to hit me. I swung the door open, expecting at least a mild reprieve from the heat and…..NOPE, it was hot as balls inside the salon as well.
I looked around and quickly assessed the area. Every employee, aside from the receptionist, was asleep. Yes, asleep. In salon chairs or in waiting chairs.
“I would like a manicure and pedicure and eyebrow wax,” I informed the downright cheerful receptionist.
“Of course ma’am,” she almost whispered, but not in a “don’t wake my co-workers” kind of way, but in what I have found to be the calm Nigerian tone. If they’re not riled up, then they speak very softly. In contrast, Americans are typically loud and then LOUDER.
She rushed over to turn on the portable air conditioner. I walked over to the stack of nail polish. Things were looking up. Lots of brand new bottles of OPI lined the shelves. I picked orange and white.
I sat at one of the manicure stations and waited and waited and waited. I finally realized that one of the newly awakened young ladies was preparing my foot bath, but, she was doing it by heating water in an electric kettle, pouring it into the basin, and repeating this process several times. She then filled the rest of the basin up with cold water, that came from the tap of the basin.
Having lived in Nigeria for a little while, this process didn’t surprise me. I just resumed my waiting.
Finally, it was time to get into the chair.
An average height, heftier woman with a short, brownish-red afro, wearing shower shoes and snake skin pants, scooted over to me. I say “scooted” because she never picked her feet from the floor.
“WHAT COLOR?” she demanded. I told her. “WHAT SHAPE DO YOU WANT ON YOUR NAIL?” she demanded next. “Round,” I replied.
She began filing away, gruffly motioning when it was time for me to reach across my body to provide the other hand.
When she had finished, she said, “DO YOU WANT TO DO YOUR HAIR?”
“No, not today,” I smiled.
“OH! NOT TODAY? YES, I SEE,” she replied, scooting back across the salon, into a chair, and began punching the keypad of her phone.
The young lady who did my feet was painstakingly thorough. I felt an almost shame, like when you feel that you should feel ashamed but some situation tells you that your shame is unnecessary. In my case, that situation is a West African country named “Nigeria.” Shame is low in demand here. You might as well get the hell over yourself before ever setting foot in this part of the world.
After the young lady had finally finished scrubbing my feet, the foot scooter came back to do my eyebrows. To my surprise, they turned out great. Her demeanor was so rough and unwelcoming, I thought for sure she’d groom my eyebrows, then slit my throat. To my delight, she only did the former.
My eyebrows turned out great, a little too thin for me, but a great improvement over what I went in there with. All in all, it was a good experience and I now know where I can go in Lagos to have a few beauty treatments and feel a little bit more like myself.
Here are a few photos!
^ The beautiful interior of the salon.
^ Brand new bottles of OPI!
^ Finger nails and toes, DID and DONE!
Until tomorrow, my friends…