I've read Oscar Wilde's words about "bright golden hair, tarnished with rust"; I love Sylvia Plath on too-red tulips and Emily Dickinson on borrowing daffodils. The poems of T.S. Eliot are a triumph, and because I am human, I know firsthand that Sappho's Fragment 31 will make you weep.
Still, I maintain that this is the most beautiful line of verse in the history of the entire world:
"Fan will shut off automatically when you move out of your hands; your nails will be completely dried to a hard, long-lasting, lustrous manicure…"
It's true! Is there any better feeling than taking your tired hands, tawdry with germs, grubby from the day's chores, and exhausted from texting "hahahaha" as your mouth sits in a contradictory moue, and blessing them, like the walls in a blue-chip art gallery or a leafy tendril in a Van Gogh still life, with a thick coat of paint? I look at those stock photos of a disembodied hand, the fingers lacquered with a rich and pristine red and clutching a single rose, and I think, honestly: maybe this is better than Vermeer. And name a more economical indulgence — I'll wait! Don't you feel adult when you glance down at your perfectly groomed hands writing that email about someone stealing your yogurt from the office fridge? You look like the most popular girl in school!
But like a perm or "my cool" that time I passed Chloë Sevigny on the street, a manicure is hard to maintain. If our eyes are the windows to our souls, our fingers are the magic wands to our opinions, our ideas, and our flirtations. We use our fingers to type, to text, to wave, to meet people, to dig through our handbags for keys or a weird protein bar that tastes like a product aliens use for twelve-hour all-atmosphere volume. With all that action, it can be hard to keep up appearances. One chip, you see, and the whole charade is up. Suddenly you're a woman who wants to hide her hands, and that's the last thing we want in this express-yourself world.
But I've got one word for you, and it's not plastics — it's Rihanna. Rihanna is a manicure pro, and if she can handle the Long-Lasting Lustrous Manicure Lifestyle and accommodate the tactile savvy required of a dope social-media presence and be Rihanna, I'm confident we can all do a sliver of the same.