I have done a fair amount of travel in my few years. On these journeys I have learned that there are differences in culture that make us unique – the kitchen is different in Jamaica from the one in Alicante, the roads are different in San Francisco from those in London, bathrooms in Cuba are different from those in Halifax, and the nightclub in Cayman is very different from the one in Newcastle.
But there is one room that is the same the world over. It is the nail salon.
Today I am sitting in a leather armchair in La Ceiba, Honduras. Myce and Nena are with me, feet propped on the knees of the usual suspects. Sure, there is no massage chair here (I never use it anyway) and the foot soak is detached from the chair (but what difference does that make?) but the level of comfort and the sense of being pampered is still alive in here. There is nail dryer and acetone, cotton balls and nail polish, gossip and overpriced curiosities in a glass case where the cash is taken. The same in every nail salon the world over.
Sure, here I pay US$10 for both a mani and a pedi that could easily cost me $100 at home, but when I leave here I will feel the same as I did leaving the Vietnamese nail salon in Florida, the Korean salon in Nottingham, and the Jamaican salon in Cayman. Ladylike and relaxed. Polished.
Perhaps the universal language isn’t love. There is so much pain in love and so much misunderstanding in the emotion that it leaves far too much of a gap. It isn’t music either. Rhythm is lost on the old and melody on the young and lyrics are here and there everywhere in between. But there is a universal language. For the women who get rubbed and buffed and polished and go home to men who appreciate and admire and children who learn from them both, there is a universal language. The lady at my feet speaks not a word of english and my spanish leaves much to be desired but there is no misunderstanding between us. We speak the universal language. Nail polish.