Tigger and I were on the bus on Sunday. Across the aisle from us was a young women with a young girl, possibly about 3 years old. The child was quite lively but we were busy with our own conversation so I paid no attention until I felt a tap on my arm. It was the woman and with a friendly smile she said “My daughter wants to know why you are wearing that”, pointing to my hand.
She could have been referring to my rings, one of which, the tiger’s head, attracts a certain amount of attention, but I guessed it was the black nail varnish. “Oh, the black, you mean?” “Yes,” she replied, adding a little sheepishly “I must admit I’m a little intrigued myself”.
This is only the second time a stranger has spoken to me about my nails since I put on the varnish in September but plenty of people have noticed and reacted in various ways, staring at my hands or nudging one another. I am amused by the attention and amused that I am amused by it. This is partly because when I was younger I was painfully shy and hated to be noticed. Being rather tall from a very young age, I did tend to be noticed and this embarrassed me greatly. I would never have dared to do something as radical as wearing nail varnish.
So what answer did I make to the lady and her daughter? If you are hoping for some deep psychological insight I am sorry to disappoint you. All I could manage was “Well, it makes a change. It’s fun.” A pretty dull answer, I admit, but it was the best I could come up with. The fact is that I cannot give a coherent and well thought out answer. I am not a Goth, a Punk or an EMO. I am not a member of any subculture unless it is a subculture of one which would, admittedly, be the ultimate in subcultures. I just like the idea of wearing black nail varnish and assume that it must respond to some deep unconscious urge. Though I like the attention, that came after I put the varnish on so attention-seeking isn’t the motive.
Tigger found me my first bottle of black varnish in Superdrug, of all places. I haven’t seen any there since, nor in any of the shops that sell makeup. It must have been a fluke. It was pretty cheap stuff and needed two coats to do a good job. I recently bought some varnish online. It’s good stuff and the people I bought it from are so efficient and friendly that I am happy to give them a plug. They are Dream-Gate, purveyors of Goth clothes, jewellery and makeup. The nail varnish itself is “Raven” by Manic Panic of New York.
I have found that any new thing can be a learning experience. So it proved with nail varnish. I have always been a little impatient of women who were afraid of chipping their nail varnish but I now understand them perfectly. No more using my thumbnail as a makeshift screwdriver or toothpick. I am now so careful with my hands that you could think I was a concert pianist or violinist. Instead of filing my nails occasionally, I now give myself a weekly manicure. It is only a small adventure but fun, as I told the people on the bus.