Saturday, May 9, 2009

Oh Grass Valley...

Please see the following link to get a little glimpse as to why I love Grass Valley.

Male Pedicurists: Masters in Their Own Right

A few summers ago, my friends Jill, Kelsey, and I chose to go to a nail salon close to my house in Grass Valley. Jill and I smiled and laughed nervously as we watched the people working below us, slightly self-conscious of the condition of our feet. As it turns out, working at a Summer Camp in the dirt for two and a half months wearing only flip-flops can really do a number on your feet. As we had just returned from our summer-long dirt extravaganza, the dirt had become so ingrained in my skin that I honestly began to think that my feet were just naturally a different skin tone than the rest of my body. Needless to say, Jill and I felt somewhat rude showing up at such a classy place (and by classy, I mean Jades Nails located next to the Fish and Chips dive in the GV) with such atrocious limbs. In some feeble attempt to save face, I offered the explanation, "Uhh, we work at a camp." To which one of the pedicurists retorted, "I can tell." Whoops.

As my pedicure progressed, I looked down and realized that the all-too-friendly Asian American man that was working on my feet seemed to be breaking out in a sweat. He had been attempting to file off the calluses on my heels for a good fifteen minutes, and to no avail. He finally said, "You want calluses off? I charge you five dollars."

I was slightly taken aback, thinking that he had just said he was going to charge me five dollars extra to continue sawing on my hooves. However, I glanced at his little cart of goodies next to my chair and realized that he was motioning to a corroded looking jar with a well-worn label. I picked up the jar, and upon closer inspection I realized it was a jar of well...ACID. A jar of acid that they had obviously had in stock for far too long, and that was only cracked open when people with freak-show feet came in with concrete calluses. " want to put acid on my feet?" I questioned. He nodded encouragingly.

While this whole event unfolded, Jill was nearly falling out of her chair she was laughing so hard, and I think Kelsey may have peed a little. In the most polite voice that I could muster, I replied, "Umm, no thanks, I'm going organic. I don't put acid in or on my body."

He smiled at me as he motioned to my impenetrable skin and said, "Dis why you single. Dis why you have no boyfriend." Amazing. Not only was he able to look at me and deduce that I was single, but he could also pinpoint the exact reason for my solitary life. Independence, Choice, Non wavering belief in staying away from anyone who belongs to a Clan or Guild are, apparently, not among the reasons that I am currently flying solo. Nope, the man giving me a pedicure had, in five minutes, deduced that I am single because of my Camp feet.

Well, this really pushed Jill and Kelsey over the edge, and they immediately deemed Jades Nails the best place EVER to get a pedicure. They agreed that the hour long drive from Sacramento was well worth it for the comedy show.

The man shrugged his shoulders, and, mood unaltered by my rejection of the acid, began dutifully filing my feet. However, in a final display of comic genius, he did begin singing Cisco's heartwarming and well known hip-hop hit "The Thong Song" in a voice that only an Asian American male pedicurist can produce. "Let me see dat thoooooong!" He crooned, as he looked up at me. I silently cursed myself for, once again, wearing a skirt while getting a pedicure, and I shoved the folds of fabric on my lap deeper in between my legs so that not even one sliver of light would reach my "no-no" parts, as Kelsey called them.

On the up-side, my feet looked FABULOUS, and the three of us did manage to completely weird-out an elderly woman who was getting her nails done by having a rather loud conversation about Brazilian waxes. I figure I broke even with humiliation/entertainment that day.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Many Smells of My Home

I knew I was making a gamble the first time I ever set foot inside my current residence. Although it had just been "repainted,"* upon first setting foot inside the building an unusual smell that I described as a mix of stale cigarette smoke and Chinese food came at me like a smack in the face. Not being a stranger to horrible smelling places in San Francisco, I figured it was merely remnants of the previous 8+ tenants and that the place would eventually "air out" after we had moved in. I could not have been more wrong.

During the past four months that I have lived in the Brothel (as it is known amongst its inhabitants) I have experienced one of the oddest evolutions of smell that has ever existed. The Smell (which is now its own entity and requires capitalization) evolves daily, and, much like a box of chocolates (Holla, Forrest Gump!); you NEVER know what you're gonna get.
Each day before I open the door to my home I turn the key with a mix of anticipation/impending doom. It's never a question of whether or not The Smell will be there (because there is ALWAYS a smell), but whether or not the Smell will be so severe that it will make me gag as I walk up the stairs, or if it is in one of its more dormant phases and is currently being poorly masked by a scented candle or a cleaning product. And while the Smell is ALWAYS bad, the answer to the question, "WHAT is that smell?" is always different.

Some days The Smell is mold. Some days it can be described as old throw-up. I typically find myself associating The Smell with a wet dog, as its intensity tends to increase with inclement weather. No matter the form The Smell chooses to take on a particular day, it is evident that this beast is a shape-shifter the likes of which my roommates and I have never seen.

The largest problem with The Smell is that we cannot figure out where it is coming from. It seems to be most intense at the top of the stairs, but countless searches for a would-be rotting animal/piece of trash have left us puzzled, empty handed, and nearly sick to our stomachs. It appears that The Smell is inherently a part of the building, as if it were actually included in the blue print. It is entirely possible that The Smell is an integral part of the structural integrity of the building, and the entire thing would come crashing down if we ever did locate its source/secret hide out/lair. (I like to imagine that The Smell has a secret lair located somewhere underneath my staircase where it plots against me).

While one of my favorite things to do is solving mysteries and investigating strange occurrences, I have accepted that this is one case that I will just never crack. It is with this knowledge of defeat that I have come to terms with The Smell. While we will never be friends, we have learned to live together civilly...with the help of half a dozen scented candles.

*I think the landlord just opened a can of paint and threw it on the wall, coating all light switches and outlets in addition to the walls...and the carpet.
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