Strange Encounters at B & J Nails

I pay $15 a month to go people-watching at B & J Nails.

While I observe the insanity around me, the small woman who’s doing my manicure talks about me to her friend who’s doing my pedicure in a language I cannot understand.

I know what you’re thinking — “my nail place is just the same!”

It isn’t. Let me explain.

B & J Nails is the local hole-in-the-wall that everyone on the west side of Los Angeles has discovered. But don’t let the hodge podge of salon-like experiences offered there fool you–at B & J Nails, you will be manicured, massaged, or plucked amidst an environment I can only describe as Black Friday.

The space consists of one large room with a big fake Grecian pillar in the middle, surrounded by plastic potted plants. Mani-Pedi stations line each of the walls while framed pictures of butterflies and flowers hang on them.

Though business is clearly booming, they haven’t bothered to expand their space in order to accommodate it. They’ve simply started buying office chairs and planting them anywhere in the room as makeshift salon stations.

So on any given Saturday, you can pay less than you would to park at the mall to be wheeled around in a desk chair while a woman waxes your eyebrows. In my opinion, the experience is priceless.

I’d like to tell you about one such experience that was particularly priceless. My dear friend Shelley and I had gone to get our nails done and were picking out colors when a girl who looked like Jessie Spano interrupted our conver–

“Do you guys think this color is professional? See, my boss is having a fit because it’s (air quote) “not professional” for accountants to have their nails painted. Like what is he thinking though? Anyways, do you guys think it is?”

We assured her that the color was entirely professional and tried to resume our conversation, but she would not relent.

Jessie Spano launched into her life story. Very loudly. As she handed the woman her chosen toenail polish, the woman indicated through a series of not-so-American Sign Language that there was a problem. You see, our new found friend had worn  a miniskirt, tights, and heels to get a pedicure.

Without batting an eyelash, Jessie kicked off her stilettos and started reaching up her skirt to get at her tights. She never broke eye contact, just wriggled out of her tights in the middle of B & J Nails while telling us about her landlord who was suing her for (air quote) “flooding the apartment.”

I know there is a God because the woman who came to do my nails led me to an office chair far away from Jessie Spano. Sadly, Shelley wasn’t so lucky.

From across the room I watched poor Shelley smile, nod, and try to get a word in edgewise while Jessie over-shared intimate details about her life. It was my favorite day ever at B & J Nails.

When we left, she asked if we lived nearby. We said no, which was a lie and I’m not proud. But we couldn’t risk it.

As fate would have it, I saw Jessie Spano a month later at a nearby restaurant. I thought about interrupting her dinner conversation to ask loudly how her job, ex-landlord, mom, awful boss, and immature boyfriend were, but instead I ran away.

I love B & J Nails for providing such wonderfully affordable entertainment.

And I’m grateful to them for showing me that even the snootiest bunch of women will temporarily overcome their differences if it means getting a mani-pedi for fifteen bucks.

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