Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Nail Polish

Haitians in general and children in particular love to be touched.

One day in Haiti, The Minister remarked his surprise at what he perceived to be a huge “gay population.”

Puzzled, I asked him where he got the idea. “Look around you, Mom! The men are holding hands everywhere we go!”

Ah. Yes, true…but not what you think. Haitian men walk down the road holding hands in the same spirit a football coach smacks his players butts (which seems more…oh forget it it, I am not going there).

I experienced the Haitian need for touch one afternoon when I sat down on a stoop with a few bottles of nail polish. The press of the crowd was tremendous. I felt like Jesus, the time he had to preach from a boat due to the same issue, but, in a tactical error, I set up shop with the sea several blocks in front of me.

After awhile, some of the faces and fingers became familiar. Children came back with a finger that was “missed” or “smudged” and had to be redone, or the need for an extra color over top of the first.

Jody, who heads up the mission at the Mole, prepared me for this. See, as much as the Haitians crave touch, they ironically don’t give their kids a lot of positive physical attention (see Saturdays post on voodoo). So this manicure was huge! It wasn’t the color they wanted as much as that moment with their hand in another, getting attention.

So they wrecked their nail polish. Just to have the experience again.

Friends and Readers: I am in Haiti this week, but have left you with a series of short posts highlighting aspects of Haitian culture to encourage thought, discussion, and understanding. The next one posts tomorrow. Thanks for reading! See you next week!


Joanne Tanner said...

I wish the US culture supported healthy touch more. We're so afraid of being misinterpreted or of being genuinely assaulted... I remember one time as a single mom I was very poor, but I was so desperate for healthy touch I went to the salon just to get my hair washed and styled since I couldn't afford to get it cut at the time. Along those lines, we should have a spa night. Invite a few girlfriends and take turns doing nails and facials and such. What do you think?

Tracy said...

I love your FB pictures and blog post about your Haitian Nail Salon! :) I had no idea they had such a craving for physical touch. I can relate! Way to go, my introverted friend! :)


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