Business review: the nail salons

“Let’s get pedicures,” Dicka said one day, her eyes bright. “It can be our thing.”

I thought of how little I cared about my toenails. Clean and trimmed was the goal—nothing showier usually entered my mind—but to have my girl request a thing with me? How could I resist?

I didn’t tell Dicka I had ticklish feet or an irrational fear of contracting an infection at a nail salon. I had read horror stories of places where the tools floated, minus cleaning, between clients. I gazed at my exuberant twelve year old’s face, but Rahm Emanuel’s eclipsed hers. As a teenager, the mayor of Chicago worked at an Arby’s where he slashed his finger on a meat slicer. Neglect and a swim in Lake Michigan spurred on an infection and emergency amputation down to the second knuckle of the middle finger on his right hand. (Note to self: If cut at a nail salon, avoid a dip in the lake.)

“Absolutely,” I said to my eager girl. “Let’s do it.”

Our first adventure in pedicures occurred in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, at CQ Nails. The place was expansive, the massage chairs and foot soakers so fancy.

“I’ll take the blue polish,” Dicka said, pointing at a bottle, “with a flower sticker. No sparkles, please.”

I kept it natural, opting for the French pedicure for an extra five dollars.

The leg scrub was divine, although I strained to understand the pedicurist’s English. I kept nodding, which might have led to an extra service, but it was hard telling.

At the end, Dicka wrinkled her nose. “I got sparkles.”

Tickle factor: Unmemorable.

Quality of service/product: The polish lasted about six weeks, which is a long time to be stuck with sparkles if you’re not a fan.

Overall good time: Delightful! I got to hang out with Dicka.

On our second excursion, Dicka and I met up with friends, another mom/daughter pair, at Calhoun Nail Spa in Minneapolis’ Uptown. A Groupon had selected the place for us, and it had similar chairs and foot baths to the first place, telling me the salon in Oconomowoc was more standard than special.

Dicka chose a pink polish, and I went out on a limb with coral. Having gone haywire, Dicka’s massage chair convulsed during the appointment. It thrashed her through the sugar scrub and jarred her during the cuticle trim.

“Ouch,” my girl whispered. “Sharp tools.”

At the end, I strode over to the desk to pay.

“Use coupon next time,” the woman said. “We give you same deal today.”

With another customer hovering nearby, I struggled to engage my math brain. “Uh. Okay, sure.”

Later, I compared notes with the mom friend who had joined us that day and checked out after we left.

“I didn’t appreciate how they pushed me to save the Groupon for the next visit,” she said. “I just said no.”

Tickle factor: In the medium-high range, Dicka and I agreed.

Quality of service/product: Not as long-lasting as our first pedicure, but still good. We returned, but might not have, if not for our unused Groupon.

Overall good time: Fantastic! I got to hang out with Dicka.

On a recommendation from my friend Murphy, Dicka and I next visited LA Nails in Vadnais Heights. The nail ladies were fashionable darlings, clicking around the place in heels so high, I almost twisted my ankle watching them.

This time Dicka selected a light blue polish; I ventured into noticeable territory with a deep rust color.

“You cut your nail too short,” Dicka’s pedicurist said to her with a light laugh. And then she cut them shorter.

I got a nick during the cuticle trim, but the leg massage distracted me. And when I thought the bliss of the foot rub was over, out came the hot stones for an extended massage time.

“Are they using vegetable oil?” Dicka whispered.

I reached down to my shin, faked an itch to swipe up some oil, and sniffed my hand. “Maybe?”

When I went to pay, the woman gave me a discount for Dicka.  

Tickle factor: Higher, but through no fault of theirs; it’s a personal issue.

Quality of service/product: The nick was minor (no antibiotics or amputation required), the lengthy massage ramped up the experience from nice to wonderful, and the kid discount was a sweet surprise.

Overall good time: Excellent! I got to hang out with Dicka.

My friend Murphy recommended another place too: Lexi Spa Nails (not to be confused with Lexi Nails) in New Brighton. The owner’s mother was a chef at Chino Latino, and she shares her culinary talents with the salon clientele.

Dicka and I haven’t gotten pedicures there yet, but I hear the egg rolls are amazing.


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*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.