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I remember her clearly. Big puffy black hair,  big eyes, high eyebrows, bright red 90’s lipstick, and long fake nails. Her name was *Mrs. Norman, and she was a teacher at my elementary school. Quite the eccentric one (not unlike myself), I missed out by having a different cluster of teachers.

Mrs. Norman had a wild reading voice, and an equally crazy look in her eyes. I met her one day when my class was practicing our reading skills by reading to Mrs. Norman’s class. I couldn’t concentrate on the story I was reading, or my reading partner. I wanted to hear her voice and to observe her.

I was enthralled by her long red nails. I’d already heard rumors that she wore fake nails, but I couldn’t be sure; couldn’t stop staring.

The reading practice went off without a hitch, and I became obsessed with Mrs. Norman’s nails. I’d pretend to get lost, heading into her classroom. I’d make up a story to tattle to her when she had recess duty, wearing her bright orange reflective vest.

 One week her nails were painted red -to match her lipstick, one week they were orange. And one day, she wore a band-aid on her finger.

There’s nothing wrong with having a band-aid on a finger. Just the other day, I clumsily cut the knuckle of my pointer finger while shaving my legs… (don’t ask) so I see the justification. But her band-aid was out of place. It was over her nail. Her missing fake nail. Imposter!

I stomped off, feeling betrayed, and unsure of why.

– – –

I wear fake nails. In fact, one popped off while I was loading the dishwasher. My first thought was not that I needed to fix it; it was that I needed to find a band-aid.

I thought back to Mrs. Norman, and that we had a special bond.

*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the guilty.