Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Slice of Life #52Stories: 6/52, Love on a Pillowcase

I'm attempting to write 52 stories from my life during the year 2020. One story a week, in no particular order, to remember and document some of the memories of my life.

I'm not sure what I was thinking. Perhaps my double digit status gave me the courage to defy my father. I think I was eleven or twelve when this story took place. I was at cousin Carol's house. Sunday visits to each other's house after church were an almost weekly tradition. After Sunday dinner, we painted our fingernails. We had done this before I'm sure, but this was the first time that I dared to wear it home. For some reason, my father abhorred fingernail polish. (Perhaps I should mention that my father was born in 1912, in rural Oklahoma and his father was a Baptist preacher.)

When I got home from Carol's house, it didn't take long for my father to notice my fingernails. He exploded in his gruffest voice and insisted that I remove the offending nail polish. I responded with tears and my own anger. Fingernail polish seemed so innocent. What could be wrong with the pale shade of pink on my nails? I stomped off to my bedroom, removed the polish, and began a reign of silence.

The next day I was surprised to find fingernail clippers and a nail file on my pillow. Without the rage of the previous day, my father sat on my bed and explained that he wanted me to take care of my nails and had bought me these tools so I could do exactly that. The discussion ended with a hug. I never understood my father's dislike of painted nails, but I always understood that he loved me. (Perhaps it wasn't really the nail polish he disliked as much as the thought that his little girl was growing up.)


  1. First of all, your 52 Story Challenge is a great one that is allowing/forcing you to tell the stories of your life. I might just join you for the rest of the year!
    I do not really understand the nail polish world even now, although I really have nothing against polish. I had my first pedicure at 55.....that's a story in itself!

  2. What a memory slice! The conflict was powerful. So was the reconnecting on the following day.

  3. I don't know that little girls ever grow up in their father's eyes.

  4. Yes, I think writing a story a week is an amazing challenge!

  5. I love your writing challenge. What a great idea. And you really capture this moment: all the conflict of growing up contained in your pale pink nails. This line - "I never understood my father's dislike of painted nails, but I always understood that he loved me." - made me think of the book I am listening to, Roxane Gay's Hunger. She is so clear about her parents' love, even when the things they did were not necessarily what she understood or wanted. I hope you wear nail polish sometimes, now.