A Love Letter To The Gel Manicure


Dear Gels,

It’s me—but I guess you figured that because you’re helping me type this. You were always so sharp and yet so round.

[Clears throat] I’m writing this because I don’t feel like I’ve been able to fully express the well of feelings I’ve developed for you over the last eight blissful months. I just think it’s time you know how much you mean to me, and believe me, being vulnerable like this is hard for me, too. Almost as hard as your glossy, lacquered exterior, but I digress…

You see, long before you, before “the ring,” and before all the oohs and ahhhs and questions surrounding wedding planning, the life of my nails was a sad and unexceptional one, a humdrum tale of snaggy edges stained in all kinds of questionable colors. And the shape? I was supposed to shape them? I didn’t know.

I didn’t know.

And then a friend introduced us, and suddenly my world was brilliant. Shiny, smooth, and colorful, you were—like Dorothy arriving in Oz. And now I don’t want to go back to black and white. I can’t. I just thought you should know you changed me forever.

Prior to this “thing” between us, I didn’t know what I was missing. I wanted clean, bare, buff nails like the Olsen twins or Carrie Bradshaw, but (and I know I don’t have to tell you this) I don’t have the hands for that. Slight fingers and small nail beds, I have not. You allowed me to put my best, albeit manly, fingers forward. But at what cost? I should have just let you be—admired from afar.

Because there were issues. Before you get upset, you know we’ve had our fair share. Is it because we’re too connected? Too strong? I don’t know, but you’ve hurt me, and I know I’ve hurt you, too. You weakened me, peeled away at my being, and I became almost unrecognizable—like a shell of my former self. But just when I was losing hope, we took that two-month break and came back stronger than ever, almost like the beginning. However, I now realize it could never be “us” in the beginning because the scars still haven’t healed.

It pains me when I think about it, all the harmful things I hold dear—smoking, drinking, foie gras, and now YOU. But let me tell you something if it’s the only thing you listen to: Even if I knew the nitty-gritty back then, I’d do it all again. You were worth it— are worth it.

You can’t be my main squeeze forever, and you know why. But if it’s a small consolation, let me offer affairs—weddings, vacations, and random Sundays because, damn it, I just want to be with you. Like the odd cigarette or duck-fat/french-fry binge, we will have to choose our time together carefully. Maybe that makes it more special. Maybe that makes us, well, us.

I’ll continue seeing you until the wedding, so it’s not goodbye, but it is time we start being realistic about what this is and has been and where it is going. It has been greater than I ever imagined. And although the scars will take months—maybe years—to heal, I don’t regret it. Not for one slick, chip-free second.


—Jesse Dickenson

Photo by ITG. Sad to see them go, love to watch them leave: How To Remove a Gel Manicure at home.