I am soaking my feet in warm sudsy water in the little basin below my chair at the nail salon. A pedicure is the one cosmetic luxury I refuse to surrender to my tightening budget for a couple of reasons: one, my lower back issues make straightening my leg after contorting to paint my toes a slow burn and, two, my little piggies take on a life of their own if they are not professionally maintained. I'll give up dinner and drinks before I cancel the pedicure.
The afternoon's heat hangs in the salon. My eyes burn with the day's computer work and I let my heavy lids fall. The more the foot bath vibrates, the farther away my cares go. The pedicurist lifts my foot onto the platform and goes to work. Little pangs of ticklishness make me smile.
A young girl's shrill voice rings out. I pop my eyes open and see two teenage girls bouncing through the door. Their energy shows through radiant smiles and easy giggles. They are white, tall and long-haired, one blond, one brunette, with thin jean clad legs and the requisite flip flops for pedicured toes. They take empty chairs on either side of me and continue their conversation seamlessly. After some chatter about last night's episode of "90210":
Brunette: I'm soooo tired of watching it on the small screen in my room. My Mom keeps hogging the flat screen to watch all that economy junk.
Blond: Ugh. Seriously. If I have to hear about that Main Street Wall Street stuff again, I'm gonna kick the screen!
Brunette: Haha! Ha! Yeah, and all the election crap? I mean, who cares? Politics are boring!
Blond: Thank you! That's what I tell my Dad and he's all, you should care about your future -
Brunette: Heehee! Whatever. It's boring.
The pedicurists working on the girls' feet do not take their eyes off the job at hand. They are young Asian women, perhaps mid-20s. They are simply dressed with minimal make-up. Their shiny black hair shrouds their faces as they continue working, stooped over on small stools.
Blond: My Dad keeps telling me I better to register before Monday.
Brunette: Well I'm not voting either. What's one vote gonna matter? Plus Obama and McCain are both weird!
The woman working on the brunette's feet looks up at her, and then to her coworker who says something in their native language. The woman again looks at her customer. In broken English she says, "You vote. You must vote. In my country, people they die to voting."
The girls look at each other and laugh. The woman's coworker says something to her. She looks down and resumes working. As I leave the salon, I notice a little alter in the corner with a Buddha, some fruit, incense sticks and a small American flag.