Welcome to Portland

I’m not sure if you’ve heard of the show Portlandia, about all the odd things Portland people do, have, and are. I just moved here two weeks ago, and I’m already starting to feel like the world is shaped differently. It also helps that I’m unemployed and drifting, living in my generous aunt’s basement.

But the first thing I want to talk about isn’t about Portland people in particular. It’s about nail parlors.

I’ve never understood why people pay other people to paint their nails, but sitting there, an outsider peering in to an oddball world usually only inhabited by those who pay, and those who are paid, I realized why women do it. It was an old lady whose lower legs, purpled by varicose veins, were being massaged that made me realize it. She said, “It’s been so long since I’ve been pampered.”

It was a ray of revelation. Women pay to be touched with careful hands. Wowza. I immediately began wondering if there was somewhere men could pay people to touch them with careful hands, and wondered if it was only prostitution. Hmmm. Why don’t men go to nail parlors to have other men touch them?


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