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Problem Not Solved?

I’m hearing some criticism for this month’s Problem Solved question, and that’s part of the reason you won’t find the Problem Solved department in this issue. We simply didn’t get enough responses to fill the page, and in this case, I think it also indicates either lack of interest or embarrassment. I mean, it’s not every day that men are asked about their grooming habits, but crank it up a notch by asking men if they get manicures, and some will almost get angry with you!


The question I had put forth was this: Whether it’s to repair fingernails that are peeling due to construction work or just to appease your 10-year-old daughter, do you get manicures? Why or why not? Bonus question: Pedicures?


Fewer than 10 people responded, and two started with this: Are you kidding me?


OK, you two. I see your point. But trust me, there’s always a reason. I wanted to see if there was any sign of a trend in the industry, and I wondered if there were health issues at hand (pun intended). I was thinking of your health and wellness, looking for an angle for a story. I know it’s a stretch, but I can’t hit the ball out of the park every single time. And you don’t know unless you ask.

I came across my first contractor manicure about 15 years ago, and I hadn’t seen any until recently. Many years ago, I thought seeing a man with a manicure (and who wasn’t a drag queen or actor) was rather unusual. Today it’s a different story.


For those not in the know, let me just give you a quick rundown on what your manicure might involve. In its simplest form, you get your cuticles cut, and your nails may be shaped and buffed. No nail polish has to be involved; buffing will give your nails a healthy, somewhat shiny appearance. However, the first contractor manicure that I came across involved clear nail polish, which gives nails a glossy sheen. In fact, that gloss is what caught my eye. Why would a contractor wear nail polish? He told me his nails had been badly damaged by years of work with plaster. And every once in a while since then, I hear of someone who damaged a fingernail with a nail gun or other tool or product, and manicures help cover the damage.


During AWCI’s fall conference last October, I was in a Baltimore bar enjoying the company of coworkers and various AWCI member contractors. Two of the contractors, both men, started talking about manicures. One contractor was fond of manicures, the other was definitely not. It’s just not manly!


A third contractor came over and admitted that he, too, got his nails done in a salon. He’s usually with his daughter during these nail appointments, but the fact is, he gets his nails done.


Adding fuel to the fire, the first contractor then admitted that he gets pedicures, too. A “toe tune-up,” he called it. Frankly, I think if pedicures had been called “toe tune-ups” in the first place, more men would be getting them today. Don’t you?


So the men who put the “man” in “manicure” are definitely out there, and some of them are in the construction industry. But unfortunately for me, there doesn’t appear to be a real story in it.

Still, I thank those who took the question seriously, people like Kevin at KL Drywall LLC. Kevin wrote, “My wife looks at hands and nails and just shakes her head. Had a manicure once and it wasn’t bad and my sense of manhood wasn’t damaged. Pedicure would scare someone.”


On the flipside is Chris Ball, a frequent contributor who isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Here’s what he wrote: “I’m a 66-year-old curmudgeon. I’ve never had a manicure, homosexual relations or a pedicure. Next month at a charity-costume-cocktail party is the first time I’ll ever wear women’s clothes, and even then, no manicure. I don’t wear work gloves, so if I have grease on my hands, I look for clean dirt to wash with, so any nicks or cuts don’t get infected. I am probably overdue for a tetanus shot. Men who get manicures are probably OK, but I don’t know any.” I don’t think homosexual relations have anything to do with fingernail hygiene, Chris, but I do appreciate your honesty. And your tolerance.


Even though they chose to remain anonymous, they know who they are, so I must thank the reader who responded that biting his nails is “faster and cheaper,” and the other who said he repairs his nails with Super Glue® (doesn’t that hurt?) and holds the fix in place with electrical tape.


Thankfully, both sexes were represented. Thanks to Barb Kennedy, manager at Aries Contracting (Ottawa) Inc., who told us, “My husband is getting manicures and pedicures done with some degree of regularity. It actually started with pedicures when I told him to do something with his feet if he wanted to sleep in the same bed as me and he complained about how difficult it was to reach his toe nails. I think manicures and pedicures for men are greatly appreciated by women. Now if we can only get something done with those nose hairs …”


True, Barb. Very true. You may have just given me next month’s question …

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