Nylons and Nails
A Christmas wish and a father’s advice
On that fateful day when I called Dad, I was sobbing. Seeking marriage advice, I expected empathy with a bit of Don Corleon protectionism that would border my fragile emotional state. It sort of went like this:
“…and I do all the work around the house, the meals…all the school activities…and now this?” I exclaim with exasperation. “Dad, it’s totally ridiculous and I just don’t see why on top of everything else, I have to do it.”
A moment of silence follows which almost makes my heart burst with love. Dad’s experiencing my pain, sharing in my suffering. I can almost feel his beefy arms around me, holding me tight.
“Baby doll,” Dad began rather paternally. “He just asked you to wear nylons. Is it so hard?”
BOOM! My brain just about exploded like the zit on the back of a football player in an Alabama afternoon. With curse words not fit for print, I channeled my unmet expectations into tears of frustration.
“No but’s,” he interrupted rather rudely. “What’s an extra sixty seconds in your already busy life? If that’s all he’s asking before you go into the bedroom, then what’s the problem?”
Breath deep, I counseled myself, hearing perhaps a little of his own forty-years of requests to my mother in his voice (no, I didn’t go there and ask). Time to do some self-reflection.
Was the extra sixty seconds that big of deal, or was I just annoyed that I wasn’t enough without requested nylons. Both questions I kept to myself of course, fearing my father’s answer.
“We done then?” Dad finished, ever the efficient businessman, even with his daughter on the edge.
“I guess, thanks.”
Christmas wish 2019…the year of the Nails
Here we are, about ten years later, and lest you forget, I’m an author, just wrapping up my 20th novel. I also play the piano. Do you know what that means? I have short fingernails, not the bitten-to-the-quick type sported by professional violinists, but rather the unkempt type which signifies to the world that anything past my knuckles serve no other purpose than to hold my rings in check.
“Please, for Christmas this year, I just want one thing,” Rog says about a month ago.
“Really?” I ask, delighted. The man buys what he needs, which at this point in life, isn’t much. I’m forever getting one more Atlanta Blackhawks hockey cap or gloves, and those slippers hockey players use going to and from the rink are so awful I just hand him a gift card.
“Yes. For Christmas, I would like you to get nails, in red please.”
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeee I mentally scream, first thinking about the trip downtown, the time it will take and most of all, how it’s going to kill my typing speed just as I’m at the tail end of writing my present novel. I can’t take the peel off the apple, get food unstuck from my tooth or button my pants very well. These are critical items, all which make me annoyed in a pico-second, but what I give him is the perfect therapist-like response.
“That would really make you happy, wouldn’t it?” I ask. He nods and I’m feeling victorious, having both validated his request without actually giving him an answer.
In the thirty days since, did I make a date at the salon? Not at all, and I had no intention to do so, right up until yesterday, when I was rooting through my nylon drawer. I’ve thrown half of them away, because I simply don’t wear them while riding a motorcycle, on the ATV or skiing. My social engagements are few and far between, which leaves Sundays and “date nights.”
“He nods and I’m feeling victorious, having both validated his request without actually giving him an answer.”
Nonetheless, as I’m considering my reality, Rog’s request haunts me, and not just because it will take an hour and $45. It’s because I’m the one who has often coached Rog on the relationship bonus points to be had when the partners’ simple requests are met. Take for example making the bed. It’s small, but is important to me because it just leaves the house put together. Annoying to Rog? Sure, but once I made the request and guess what? He makes the bed, no matter how rushed. For. Ten. Years.
Then I think back to dear old Dad. There’s a reason he’s been married nearly 60 years, and it’s because he’s always doing the little things for Mom. And when he rhetorically asked me: “Is it so hard?” he wasn’t talking just about uncomfortable leg wrappings. It was about the bigger picture of life. The little things aren’t so hard…they are just…time consuming, annoying, uncomfortable, perhaps cost money or all of the above.
I briefly thought of calling Dad about the nails just to get a response. He’d probably coo and talk about getting a scalp massage or having his back tickled, which is precisely what Rog adores, but never gets because my author-stubs (aka fingertips) never reach through his thick head of hair. Alternatively, maybe just once, he’d like my fingers not to resemble my father’s stubby cow milking hands and something more glamorous and appealing.
At 6:50 p.m. last night, ten minutes before the salon closes, I get an appointment for my nails. “A full set in red,” I add, knowing that statistics show if one says a commitment out loud, it has a higher chance of being fulfilled.
Thus it was that this morning, Christmas Eve, I watch as Jenny uses glue and acrylic to form the base of what she ultimately covers with blood red gel. Just because I’m a rebel, I add silver to my fourth nails. Since I’m going all in, I might as well attempt to be trendy.
Jump to the present, approximately 2 p.m. We have been invited to attend Christmas Eve dinner with friends and as I type this—well, I can’t type. My fingernails are slipping, causing about every other word to be deleted then retyped, yet I keep going back to Dads sage words of wisdom.
“Nylons and nails,” I think to myself. “Was it so hard?” Finger slippage and sausage casings are not big things. I just want to exercise my free will. Putting my needs/wants/desires are ultimately just excuses for not thinking of someone else’s desires are important, like making the bed.
So, to answer the question, no, neither were hard. It’s in hindsight, I’m feeling selfishly Grinch-like for not doing such simple things that give my partner-in-life such joy. Today, Christmas came early for Rog, and as the saying goes, the joy of gift giving isn’t limited to a single day, it’s year-round.