Friday, April 1, 2011

An Ersatz for Happiness

Fake Nails, Fake "Jewels"
(Real Plants)

"Here was happiness; not my drum, to be sure, just an ersatz,
but there is also such a thing as ersatz happiness,
perhaps happiness exists only as an ersatz,
perhaps all happiness is an ersatz for happiness"
~ from The Tin Drum, by Gunter Grass ~

Back in 2003 when Nicole Kidman portrayed Virginia Woolf in The Hours, I read a magazine interview in which she pointed out that her hands were perfect for the role because no matter what she did (moisturizers, manicures, and so forth) she always has scrawny, inelegant hands -- just as Woolf was supposed to have had. Kidman said that for her it is a family trait; her sister suffers from the same beauty flaw.

And so do I! My hands are notoriously dry and worn looking no matter what beauty treatments I try, and they always have been, ever since I was a child and my mother slathered them in glycerin and made me wear little white gloves to bed. From here on out, instead of fighting it, I will just feel honored to share this troublesome trait with the stunning, famous Nicole (and her sister).

Now, if only my agent could find a part for my dry hands to play in a movie!

One of my manicure buddies confided to me that her one misgiving about our fake nails is that it seems, perhaps, a declasse kind of indulgence. I assured her otherwise but was reminded of something that I read years ago in Norah Ephron's old book Crazy Salad (which I keep in the kitchen with my cookbooks, along with her novel Heartburn, which contains actual recipes, including the one I use for Bread Pudding -- remember the movie with Meryl Streep & Jack Nicholson?).

Here's what Ephron writes in Crazy Salad, not about nail care, but about the market success of feminine hygiene products, which she considered to be a big advertising scam: "Secretaries and stewardesses. It figures. Scratch any trend no one you know is into and you will always find secretaries and stewardesses. They are also behind Dr. David Reuben, contemporary cards, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, water beds, Cold Duck, Rod McKuen, and Minute Rice" (81).

I laughed and laughed when I first read that back in 1986; and I'm still laughing now! You know why? -- because I've always been a big fan of Minute Rice, and Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and even the poetry of Rod McKuen. Maybe Ephron would include fake nails in her list as well; but, hey, I think it's okay to pick and choose!

My ersatz nails (above / below) could hardly be called flashy or trashy. In fact, they are actually rather understated, if you ask me, not like those extra - longs with decals of the American Flag worn by postal workers or the obviously fake, two - toned, sequin - studded tips worn by the receptionists at the mammography center.

On the other hand (no pun intended ~ haha!) if they like that style and it adds a little joy ~ ersatz though it may be ~ to their day, then why not?

Two New Figs & New Nail Color: Electric Eel


  1. This is simply wonderful! Kitty, what a delightful potage of the whimsical, the crazy, and flying women.

    You are such a thoughtful writer, and so clever. Love this post. :D

  2. Thanks Paula!

    Check out Paula's blog:

    Paula said:

    I have a Facebook friend (whom I’ve never met, which is so frequent these days!) who is of a more literary bent than I am. I’m the ever so casual writer, using more common language of the day than is good for anyone, like gonna, ya, gotta, gimme, geez, and a bevy of other crucifixions of the English tongue.

    So she has a blog. Naturally. And I love to read it, because it reminds me that I do love language, and the beauty of words, and layered meanings and quality writing, even though I abuse it so terribly these days.

    I want you to see her post from today. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it if you have an interest in any of these:

    •Nicole Kidman
    •Norah Ephron
    •Heartburn, with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson
    •the American flag
    •Minute Rice
    Now if you find it hard to believe that these things have much in common, you’ll be delighted by Kitti Carriker’s post today in The Quotidian Kit. Take a read. You’ll enjoy it!