Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Press On, Pop Off.

I'm about to date myself here, but I tend to do that often--once more won't kill me. 

Back when Lee Press-On Nails first came out, I was a seventh grader with a bad hairdo, braces, and a want to be beautiful...or at least win the heart of a certain boy who, looking back, didn't deserve mine (not that he wanted it).  I'd discovered make-up, specifically, "Faded Denim" eyeshadow and a tube of white-pink lipstick that--in actuality--made me look like I was about to vomit.  When those damn nails debuted, I knew they were the last step I needed to make me an instant-Madonna.

The great secret of Lee Press-Ons, was an uber-thin glue film stuck to tabs of brown paper.  Once that miracle of 80's hi-techness was applied--in my case, partially on, partially gummed up into an uncomfortable mess that glued my nail to my skin--the pre-painted nail (mine, a shimmering pink--I know, I know) was...well, pressed on.  Supposedly, the great wonder of these nails were that they wouldn't come off until you wanted them to.  Easy on, control of off.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that I wanted them off as I made a graded at-home, Home-Ec meal for my parents.  POP.  One off in the biscuit dough.  Stop and put it back on.  Repeat.  At some point, my dad came in and saw my beautiful nails in his dinner, and my Lee Press-On Nails became his favorite "remember when" moment FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.  We'd watch Wheel of Fortune, Lee Press-Ons would be a sponsor, and there he'd go, chuckling and telling me all about those nails like I hadn't been there.  As an adult, if my nails were done, I'd be met with, "Remember Lee Press-On Nails...?"  To say it got old is an understatement, and I had no humor about the incident.  Eye-rolling and growling, yes.

...until my daughter saw some Bonnie Bell nails at Target.  OMG, she HAD to have them, and I shot her down, mean mom that I am.  But the Easter Bunny had some shopping to do, and they found their way into her Easter Basket.  Two sets--one with peace signs, one that says, "Go Green," ONE different-sized nail in each set for customizing sizes (sure), all with chunks of that snot-glue that's supposed to keep them on for 72 hours.  I applied them yesterday, warning as I did (so the heartbreak wouldn't be as bad) that they probably weren't going to last through the night, and I centered those pieces of peace-sign plastic up as best as I could, trying to minimize the appearance of her natural nail as best I could (totally impossible on her thumbs--they look like hard plastic stripes down the center of a fresh pink fingernail).  Within an hour, one popped off, and we had to use an extra nail.

She clicked them, tapped them, stared at them, smiled at them, and I remembered biscuit dough.  As Brian and I put her to bed for the night, I had visions of her waking up in the morning with fingernails clumped and hanging throughout her hair and along the length of her bed.

And I couldn't help but think about how, if he were still alive, I'd be on the phone telling my dad that Air got her first set of Press-Ons, and I knew the exact laugh I'd hear.  I woke up in the middle of the night, hearing my dad's voice saying, "Remember Lee Press-On Nails?"  And for the first time, ever, I laughed about it.
(When groggy Brian asked, "What?" next to me, I kept my secret to myself with a smile.)

To my surprise, only one went MIA through the night, and Air quickly found it when she sat down and got stabbed.  Like a trooper, she pressed it back on, avoided using her hands at all costs (which she totally milked), and I dropped her off to school for the day, I'm sure, feeling super-fly.  (Added after school--they were all gone when I picked her up.)

I have a feeling at least half will be gone by the time I pick her up, but  that's okay.  She finally got her nails, and I finally got to laugh about mine.  Thank you, Easter Bunny.

...and yes, Dad, I remember Lee Press-On Nails.