Sunday, February 20, 2011

One Handed or Two?

When I was at the nail salon yesterday, I was watching the all the technicians work.  This is always a fraught space for me, because as much as I love having someone else tend to my toenails, part of me feels that when I'm in the chair getting a pedicure, I am one step away from lying on a Roman couch, being fanned and fed grapes by conquered Dacians.  I know. I have that feeling but I also know the forty-seven things that could be said to counter it.  Anyway, that's not what I came to say.

I was watching them work and it made me think about how my sister-in-law Kate used to work at Origins.  Though, as I've mentioned before, saying she worked at Origins is like saying Michelangelo worked at the Sistine Chapel. She is a genius with makeup and skincare, and she sold it like hotcakes because she truly cares about it and about helping people look good. I swear it's her spiritual gift. Now she's a therapist and it's really like she's just pursuing the same vocation in a different form.

Once she was trying out a new makeup product on me, and she remarked that, in the store, when you're showing a person how to apply makeup, you never touch her face with just one hand. Always use two hands.  That beyond the practical need to steady your hands for what you're doing, touching someone's face with one hand is disrespectful.

I thought about it and it seems totally true.  The one-handed touch communicates something totally different from a two-handed touch.  Don't you think?

Then I thought about how, in some cultures, it's rude to reach out for something offered to you with one hand. You show your appreciation by taking the thing--a gift, a business card, food--with two hands.  This might not be as codified in our culture as it is in, say, Japan, but I'm wondering if we think this way and follow this rule without realizing it?

I was having these thoughts and then I noticed that the woman next to me was getting a really strange pedicure with a crackle finish.  Have you seen this?  First they put a coat of white polish on, and then a coat of color, which crackled and showed the white underneath.  That drove all other thoughts from my brain except how to twitter it as soon as possible.  Then I couldn't stop staring at her feet.

Happy Sunday, sweetses.


Cassie said...

I had never considered this whole perspective on touch but having taken a moment to ponder I have to agree about the two-handed touch. It seems, at least on a high level, more intentional and gracious.

I have not seen the crackle polish! But 'round these parts we've had our fingers gloved and our toes slippered so it will be interesting to see what crops up in flippy-floppies come spring time.

I'm glad you were able to get some pedicure time!

David said...

We just learned about the two-handed giving and receiving in Japanese class. It's from Samurai culture, when it wasn't just about respect, but also to say, "happy birthday: please accept this mochi. And look, I don't have a free hand to whip out my Hattori Hanzo." "Thank you, and I too promise not to Kill-Bill you."

Kind of like showing an open palm when we wave, except more comprehensive and reassuring?

Nice bit about the Dacians! :)

Becky said...

Ah, interesting D! It is funny, so much of modern etiquette is traceable back to "I'm going to show you that I won't kill you now."

Reading Rosie said...

One hand is an obligation, the other hand an option. When the option hand is extended, trust and compassion are shown.

Funny you should mention the crackle nails...I was in ULTA last night looking for OPI and overheard a conversation about how this look was gaining popularity.

Elizabeth said...

I feel the same way when I get a pedicure --like a spoiled and decadent Roman? I try to "cover" for this by making inane conversation, asking questions about their families when what I really want to do is read my magazine while they massage my feet.

jo said...

that fad has hit Australia too, I don't like it much but my 13yo does,
I blogged her latest must have

Maggie said...

Huh...I never really thought of the one hand vs two hand thing, but it makes a lot of sense. I'm going to be far more aware of that now, which may or may not be a good thing.

I don't think I like that crackle polish. It looks...unfinished.

Hootie said...

I've been rockin' the whole "cracked toenail" look for years. Oh wait... nail POLISH... hmmm. Wish there was some way to delete this comment. Oh well.

Kate said...

Beck, your spiritual gift is being able to remember anything anyone has ever said to you! It's amazing. And, yes, once you become aware of the two handed rule, you really notice it, and it's unnerving when people only use one hand :)

Keely said...

I think it definitely conveys something different. But it might be situational - I had a meeting with a financial representative a while back who insisted on shaking my hand with BOTH of hers, and I just found it false and condescending.

Rebekah said...

I've often wanted to write a proposal for some advanced thesis on the origins of Southeast Asian nail technicians and the history of this industry in modern America as we know it.

I'm not a fan of the crackle though. I haven't seen it for myself, but it doesn't sound so good to me.

Suburban Princess said...

How interesting! I know I am going to be sooooo aware of it now and watching everyone's hands!

David you cracked me up - I was just thinking about Hattori Hanzo when Zamphir came on my ipod the other day :O)