Beauty and the beast


It is possible that I could say that I didn’t believe my eyes. The truth is, though, that when it comes to the bizarre, the absurd, the downright unnatural, my eyes pretty much believe whatever they see.

Such as the world has become.

To that haven of aesthetic completion I took myself the other day to have my nails “done,” as we girls like to say. I settled down in the chair and let the process begin in a flurry of filing, grinding and polishing. I was watching the news on the flat screen TV when I heard something unfamiliar, something that does not traditionally belong within the confines of foot baths, lounging chairs, tanning beds and bright colored nail polishes.

Lo and behold what I heard was really there. I saw with my own eyes. A guy, a redneck nonetheless, getting his nails manicured. There he sat in all his splendor, a camouflage baseball cap atop his curly blonde hair, camouflage pants and a t-shirt that touted the importance of beer to one’s existence.

Not since I toured the infield at Daytona International Speedway during the 500, have I seen anything more oddly captivating. It would be like seeing Miss America with her gown and tiara on, washing dishes at Waffle House.

But there he sat, straight from a hayfield, deer stand or honky tonk, with his hands poised delicately as his cuticles were trimmed and pushed back, his nails were filed and finished off with a coating of clear polish.

Oh, if only Dale Earnhardt were still alive so I could call and tell him this. But I can hear what he would say. “Huh!” he’d snort in an annoyed, sarcastic way and toss back his head. “That ain’t no fan of mine. That’s a Jimmie Johnson fan!”

Suddenly, in the midst of all this staring and head scratching, something else occurred to me. Do we women want these men in the nail salons of America? Should they be allowed into the reverent inner sanctum of feminine devotion to beauty?

I thought back to some of the places where I’ve been that men didn’t want me: Stadium press boxes, locker rooms and the NASCAR garage. Some of those good ol’ boys, particularly in stock car racing, were mighty reluctant to welcome women.

“Not me,” often says car owner and my dear friend, Richard Childress. “I thought women were a nice addition to the garage.” He proved he meant it when he stood up for a female photographer and her right to be allowed access.

Having learned firsthand how it hurts to be unwanted and scorned, I decided I’d take the high road. I smiled at the redneck wiggling his fingers to dry his polish and said “hello” warmly.

Then I remembered a recent conversation between Brandon and me. Brandon, who helps me around the house and yard, was late one Saturday morning because he had stopped to get a haircut.

“I’m sorry, Miss Ronda, but I had to wait. Usually I don’t.”

“Do you go to a beauty shop or a barber shop?” I asked, figuring that college age kids like Brandon like the fancier places.

“Oh, I go to the barber shop.” He said it with manly pride. Then, he related that when the barber lost his lease, he had gone to a new place and welcomed two female hairdressers to join him.

“You women.” He rolled his eyes. “The things y’all talk about when you’re gettin’ your hair done. Us guys just sit over there and laugh about it.”

Okay, now this might be the deal breaker. This might prevent us from generously allowing men in on our sacred beauty rituals. We women have special things we talk about when we’re primping. We cannot allow them to join in, if they’re going to mock us.

It’s bad enough to have to share our polish with them.

[Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of “What Southern Women Know About Flirting” and “The Town That Came A-Courtin’.” Her newest book is “What Southern Women Know about Faith.” She lives near Gainesville, Ga. Sign up for her weekly newsletter at]