We were on a mission to find a nail salon. After almost ten weeks of walking the city in sandals, my feet needed a little TLC. Plus, the search proposed a fun little challenge for my mom and me.
Naturally, the final stop on our hunt was el Corte Inglés. The exceedingly popular Spanish superstore looks like a Dillard’s from the outside, but it’s so, so much more. El Corte Inglés – think American department store, but then add a Safeway, Best Buy, Sephora, CVS, and ACE Hardware. There’s a café, coffee shop, locksmith, post office, currency exchange, art supplier, electronics section, and yes…a hair and nail salon.
Mother and child arrived at the salon to discover that unfortunately, even beneath the North Star of Corte Inglés, there was no room at the inn. Booked solid. I made an appointment for the following day.
On Monday, I arrived promptly at 5 PM. I waited until a young girl greeted me.
“Have you ever had a pedicure at el Corte Inglés?” she asked, in Spanish. Well, “no,” I replied. Normally, I can’t get my toenails painted, buy a yogurt, and mail a card under one roof.
She led me to the back of the salon. The room was sterile and white, like an operating room. Yep, I’m in for a treat. She left the room to allow time for me to take off my shoes and situate myself in the dentist chair. Am I about to get my wisdom teeth removed? I noticed power tools in the corner of the room. Maybe, “nail file” translates to “chainsaw” in Spanish.
Then, surgery commenced. I ignored the awkwardness by reading, pretending to understand last month’s edition of Spanish Cosmo. She couldn’t have been more than a few years older than me. The girl began sawing at my feet, polishing my heels with an electronic buffer, dust (and I’m pretty sure parts of feet) flying at her face. The bed jerked back and forth as the sound of spinning metal roared throughout the salon. Then, she introduced the sandpaper. Her Pomeranian-like half ponytail spasmodically shook back and forth; her quick scraping motions mimicked the beat of the oldies radio, following the tune of “Surfin’ USA” and “American Pie.” She used an assortment of tools – a little bit of this, a little bit of that. I think I created a monster. The mad scientist of el Corte Inglés, a pyromaniac, but for nail tools.
Two hours later, my surgery had finished. My toes were red, and so were my heels.