So, just to get this out of the way, I’ve had multiple manicures. This is not a statement you hear from a lot of guys. Not saying it doesn’t happen, it just doesn’t happen often (or at least isn’t talked about often). Now, I do know a fair amount of dudes who readily tout the awesomeness of pedicures. Dudes who get them with regularity. And I get that ‘cause feet, especially men’s feet, are nasty and can use any help they can get (sorry, Rex Ryan, you’re on your own with that one).

But I had to get a manicure for work. We were producing a series of videos for a client that focused on hands, and for some reason the client suggested that I be one of the on-camera talents. My boss did the best he could to talk our client out of it, by basically just listing all the things that are terrible about my hands (GREAT confidence booster, thanks, dude). But their minds were made up. They wanted me.

The shoot was going to take place in San Francisco, so the day before the flight I head over to il Villagio in Greenwich Village, as recommended by a co-worker. I literally had no idea what to expect. The one tip I was offered was to make sure to ask for a buff instead of clear polish coat. A pleasant-looking Asian woman leads me to the manicure workstation. First impression is that this has kind of the vibe you’d find in a dentist’s office. There’s that paper towel thing on the table with a bunch of tools laid out on it, and a bright light shining directly down on us. Thankfully, there’s a TV mounted on the wall off to the side, so at least I have something to divert my attention to.

First the salonist (nailer? manicurista?) puts my left hand in a bowl of clear solution. After a quick soak, she takes my hand out, and puts my right hand in the bowl. She slathers a clear, syrupy solution on my cuticles of my left hand. She then grabs this metal rod with a flattened tip, and proceeds to scrape/jam my cuticles as far back into my fingers as she can. She’s very efficient at this, and I figure the worst is over. But then she takes these tiny scissors and, I kid you not, pecks at my cuticles with tiny snips. At like 800 pecks/min. If that sounds uncomfortable, IT IS. It’s like a deranged sparrow decided your cuticles are the devil incarnate and with the flaming sword of Heaven that is its beak, it will rip them from this world and send them back to hell where they belong. This catches me off guard. Luckily, when it comes to fight or flight, I freeze. So rather than yank my hands away or punch the Nail Refurbisher (Clipperati? Nail Whisperer?), I just remain still as a single tear rolls down my cheek.

After that ordeal, though, things go much more smoothly. She does the normal things – clipping, filing, and the requested buffing. Then she gives me a quick hand massage while moisturizing, which is a welcome relief. I’d like to say that when she shifted to the right hand, I was ready for what was coming, but the cuticle thing was just as traumatizing as before.

Once the nail dust had settled I look down and all of a sudden realize the talent of this Nailologist (Cuticle Killer? Polishnakov? What the hell are they called!?). My hands are perfect. Well, as perfect as my hands can be. They glow, the nails are smooth, shiny, and that exact sweet spot of short but not too short, and most of all the skin is amazingly soft. But not overly so (imagine shaking hands with a guy whose hand feels doughy and soft like a baby. Creepy). While reaching for my wallet to settle the tab, I have a horrific realization. I need to protect these pups! I might scrape my hand on my keys as I clasp my wallet. Or I get a paper cut from the receipt! Well this is just terrible.

I leave the salon with my hands in my jacket pockets and go straight to the drugstore to buy a travel-sized hand lotion. I then proceed to compulsively moisturize my hands while limiting my use of hands as much as possible (making my lonely night even lonelier). The flight goes off without a hitch and I don’t have any major issues until we get dinner the night before the shoot.

As the Fates would have it, we end up at Wing Stop. My boss just orders a pile of assorted wings. It’s not until the wings arrive that the peril of the situation dawns on me. If you’ve ever had wings, you know that it is impossible (IMPOSSIBLE) to eat them without getting sauce into every crevice of your hands. No amount of hand washing ever gets it all out, especially around the cuticle edge (what I suffered most to have perfected – irony, you are a cruel mistress!). I announce the situation to the group, and one of the guys runs up to the front. I’m expecting him to order some boneless wings, but he comes back with kitchen gloves. The loose, plastic lunch-lady style, not the blue CSI style. So with my head held as high as I can muster (staring at the floor), I gingerly eat my wings while the rest of the group is incredibly supportive (smearing wing sauce on their faces as they wipe away tears of laughter).

But the shoot goes well, and our client is jazzed (in fact, you can see my hands here). The most surprising outcome of my manicure experience was that I immediately had an ability to qualify my other manicures. “That deranged swallow peck is only  650 pecks/minute. UNACCEPTABLE.” “Pshh, you didn’t elicit a single tear from me. AMATEUR.” “With a firm thumb run the length of my palm when you massage, no concentric circles! MALADROIT.” So if you ever need someone to let you know if a nail salon is legit (or a pasty-skinned hand model), holla at ya boy!