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2002-05-28 3:37 p.m.

Continued from Part 1.

We were pretty tired from teenage rave mania 9000, so we slept until 1PM. Andie and I woke up before Mr. Biggs and decided that we should all go and get dim sum. Tollef, valuing sleep above all things, opted to skip our dim sum outing and continue sleeping. But, when we arrived back home a little over an hour later, he was awake and hungry for food! As a good friend, I could not let him starve just because I had already eaten. When in doubt, remember this rule: It is important to make sure your friends are well–fed at all times, even if they are allergic to the food you are trying to feed them, are fasting for religious reasons, are seasick, or are at the point at which they have eaten so much that their stomach will surely rupture—causing massive internal bleeding and possibly even death—if they swallow another morsel of food. I am a caring and considerate friend, and I make sure my friends get the life–sustaining nourishment they need. So, we hopped into the Scirocco and sped off to Safeway for a lunchstravaganza.

Hehehe. Poppers. Theoretically one could insert any number of witty references to amyl nitrate here. Gee, and we found this in the Safeway deli section. Who knew?

To maximize the fun factor, we made sure to peruse each and every aisle of Safeway. Tollef carefully chose between competing brands and form factors of tuna fish sandwich components, while I mostly focused on the dried mango department. When I was a young boy, my stepfather's family would bring "Phillipine brand" dried mangoes back from the Phillipines as gifts for all the children. Soft and chewy, sweet and succulent, they taste like mangoes, only better—they taste like all the best parts of being a kid. I bought six bags to remind me of my childhood, and to make sure my next few bowel movements would be nothing but liquid, just like I remembered.

One of my favorite finds from that day was the bag labelled "NUT TOPPING". It was as if some product designer decided to play a game of perverted Mad Libs using only BD/SM sex jargon. Yes, it is slightly funny because it says "NUT", but what is even more dirty is how they threw in the word "TOPPING". How very specific!

I consumed over one pound of mangoes during that 24–hour time period. The terror!

You can now purchase all the fixings for a tuna sandwich in special kits! Here we see Tollef becoming intimately acquainted with his tuna–sandwich–making kit in the dining area of the Safeway.

So, what do you do when you have finished eating lunch and you have a few hours before you go to a big gothic concert where everyone will be wearing black and looking dismal? Answer: You go to a cut–rate nail shop run by Chinese women who collectively speak no more than 100 words of English and get gothic manicures! Now, while this seemed like a simple and bright idea at the time, in retrospect we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, seeing as we had never had manicures before.

As far as I can tell, the first thing that they do when you come in for a gothic manicure is to talk in Chinese and giggle and then talk in Chinese some more. Then, after a while they ask something along the lines of, "You want manicure?" to which you must reply, "Huh?" Then, there is broken English, pointing and waving of arms and gesturing towards places that you should sit down, and, of course, lots of talking in Chinese.

Now here manicure start is happening! Tollef! See!

Then they put this goo on your fingernails which effectively performs a back–alley abortion on your cuticles. For those of you not familiar with the location and function of the cuticle, it is the part of the human finger which, according to these ladies, must be removed at all costs. Seriously, the liquid in the container—marked "cuticle remover"—disintegrates your cuticles so that they can easily scrape off the pulpy remains of what was once your flesh with sharp, shiny metal tools. And, whatever bits of your cuticle which were not aborted are torn off using sharp, but not quite sharp enough to be painless, cutting tools.

It was at this point that I made the mistake of asking my nail lady why she was removing my cuticles. Who would know better than a nail professional, right? She answered by pointing to the bottle labeled "cuticle remover" and saying the word, "remove". I nodded agreement and persisted, "Yes, but why?" To this she replied, "Yes." Once again, I nodded in agreement, even though I felt like I was getting nowhere. All of a sudden she thought of something else and added, "We take off." We both nodded, probably for different reasons. There was some serious, championship English speaking going on in that nail shop. I gave it one last try, "Yes, but WHY?" She paused for a while, looked up in thought, and cheerfully replied, "I don't know." She smiled. OH MY GOD. This person was removing parts of my body using flesh–melting abortion liquid and she did not even know WHY. This did not serve to bolster my faith in our decision to get manicures.

No, this is not a scene from a medieval Italian torture exhibit. Chinese women actually use these things to cause pain to humans like Tollef and I right here and now in the USA!

After snipping off any other callouses and hangnails—which in Tollef's case resulted in horror–movie–style bleeding lasting far into the evening—it is time to actually trim the fingernails. This part was unexceptional for me, since I play guitar and always keep my nails very short. The problem, though, is that after they cut your nails—a step which was omitted in my case—they decide to sand them to smooth perfection using a torture device which can be found in your mom's bathroom called an Emory board. And, if you have very short nails, the geometry of this situation is that they mostly end up sanding off your fingertips and brutalizing the tender, helpless spot under your nails. And of course, there is much talking in Chinese.

Now cutting nails. On Tollef. See! Pretty! You like!

Everyone! Let's all celebrate by talking in Chinese!

At this point, although I was experiencing some apprehension, I was pleased to admit that my nails and fingers felt amazing. It was as if they had been exercised and awakened by the smiling Chinese woman's tough love, and now they felt all tingly and special. I can really see why people are willing to pay to have this done.

If your manicurist speaks English fluently, then she is an IMPOSTER, maybe even an actual ALIEN from outer space trying to KILL YOU. Demand that your manicurist speak only Chinese, or any other language which you do not understand.

Ah, but then it was time to pick out which color(s) of nail polish we wanted. Red, white, and blue with stars and stripes? Airbrushed dollar signs? Purple gradient with airbrushed dolphins and unicorns and fucking ponies? This was supposed to be a gothic manicure, so the only choice was of course, obviously: PONIES. Wait! Hold on! Not ponies! I meant black. The only choice was black. Let the gothic begin!

Sadly, this stage of the manicure did not involve any sharp tools or removal of flesh, and was therefore not as funny as the earlier, more gory stages. But, rest assured there was plenty of Chinese conversation, in case you needed some of that.

By this point, I was seriously starting to wonder how they could spend so much time and effort on a manicure, and still charge only $6 for it. Over thirty minutes had passed, and it seemed like there was still more to come.

After a second coat of polish was applied, we were in for a real surprise. Our flesh had been melted by chemicals, cut, chopped, sanded, poked, and torn. Tollef was still bleeding from an injury incurred during the hangnail removal stage. Considering what we had been through, it would surely be all easy from here, right? FALSE. We foolishly assumed that the painful and uncomfortable portion of the manicure was over, but oh how we were wrong! They had not tortured us with freezing yet! It was then that they positioned our hands in front of these nasty, little fans—deceivingly misnamed "nail dryers"—designed to inflict frostbite on your hands and wrists.

Norway. Spitzbergen. Siberia. Antarctica. Nail dryers. CURSE THE EVIL CHINESE MANICURISTS!

At this point, after you pay, the correct thing to do is to immediately do something to mar or completely deface the newly–manicured nails, such as scratch them or mess up the polish. Being professionals, Tollef and I made sure to do this before we even left the nail shop.

What an experience it was. Forty–five minutes later, without any semblance of cuticles, and $12 poorer, we walked back to Tollef's Scirocco, confidently knowing that soon we would be rocking out with the most gloriously–gothic–manicured fingers in all of San Francisco.