I recently entered a Nashville nail salon to buy a gift card for my sister's birthday. I'm not sure if the EPA knows about this place, but I think it's only about two toxic chemicals away from being Ryan Seacrest's hair. If I stayed longer than I did, I'm pretty sure my lungs would have coughed up a white flag.
Maybe it was the fumes that caused a customer to involve herself in my business, and maybe it was a Chernobyl effect that caused my sarcasm to grow fangs. Whatever the reason, this is a synopsis of what transpired…
Me: "Hi. I'd like to buy a gift certificate, please."
Clerk: "Okay. For how much?"
Editor's note: It's an Alberstadt family rule that birthday gifts for the adult siblings shall not exceed twenty dollars. And I'm not one to break the rules, especially the ones that I just make up like that.
Me: "Twenty dollars."
Me: "Yes. U.S. dollars."
That should have ended things. But a random lady piped up, and my smartass reflexes simply took over, much like when a doctor taps a little hammer on your knee, only instead of a hammer, he uses a housewife armed with a tip calculator and cotton balls between her toes.
Miss Loopy: "Oh, give her more than that."
Me: "Why? She only has one hand."
Editor's note: My sister actually has both of her hands. I know this because she can drive, talk on her cell phone, distribute juice boxes to the kids, and disregard her turn signal all at the same time. She may actually have three or four hands for all I know. But this comment came out nonetheless.
Loopy: "Oh my. I'm sorry."
Me: "Well it's no big deal. She has a claw too."
Loopy: "Like a hook?"
Me: "Yeah. So it's 20 bucks here, and another 20 at Home Depot so she can go sharpen that baby up before her "Saw 8" audition."
Loopy: "That's a horrible thing to say about your wife."
Me: "Not my wife. It's for my sister. If my wife wanted to come to this place I'd just get her an emery board and an hour's worth of Cool Whip blasts."
Loopy: "Well I think you should give her more than twenty."
Me: "Duly noted. But I think it's the right amount, because when I was a kid, she would sit on top of me and poke my chest with her claw. That kind of trauma gets you twenty buck gift cards, lady. For the record, my brother's getting a cheese log for all those Wet Willies I got as a kid."
Editor's note: My brother never gave me Wet Willies. I'm not sure why, as that's the big brother American custom. Rather, he was content with giving me the broken controller whenever we played head-to-head Nintendo baseball. He ran up the score as my right fielder held the ball, even though I was clearly pressing the A button. Now that I reminisce, dammit, he's getting a cheese log next year.
Loopy: "You are quite odd."
Me: "Maybe. But I'm happy, hangnails and all. Unlike your husband, who probably has to go without HDTV so the family can afford to send you to chemical cuticle camp every two weeks."
Loopy: "You son of a bitch."
Me: "That's rude to call my mom that. She has a wooden eye and a peg leg."
Editor's note: My mom doesn't really….well, you get it by now. Happy new year, everyone. All the best!