I’ve really gone over the edge. I mean, I knew it was only a matter of time before I snapped, big time, even bigger time than just the other day when I was having all of those horrid problems with my computer and Dell and the techs (is that sort of like Josie and the Pussycats?) and actually deposited myself in one of the hall closets so I could cry away from the prying eyes of Shana La Chat … But I didn’t think that my breakdown would manifest itself in the way that it finally did today, sometime around 3:00 p.m. EST, on the southeast corner of 23rd and Seventh, in beautiful Chelsea.

Yes, that would be the corner occupied by none other than Bloomie Nails, one of those walk-in places that I’ve been frequenting since I realized that they do just as nice of a job as Artista, where I had been going when I first moved here last year. Anyway, I went in for my manicure (trying to make it a weekly habit, and pretend that I’m deliciously high maintenance), and selected Futures French, a variation on my usual pale whitish-pinkish/non-“real” color. It gives the nails a “clean” look, a “classic” look, a look worn effortlessly by women whose closets neatly house the “collections” (and not the less expensive “bridge” lines) of Calvin Klein and Armani.

While Rachel (the name on her tag was certainly different from the Korean one on the cosmetology license behind her work station) filed and soaked my hands, I began to question my safe choice of polishes. What would happen if I threw caution to the wind, flat out on its ass, and went with something a little more … colorful? Something … zany. Nothing too prepubescent, such as purple or blue, but something that ordinarily I would reserve for autumn and winter toes. Something I always considered “vulgar” for the fingers. I must’ve fretted for five minutes over even suggesting a color change to Rachel, but then … I made my move.

“I think I’m going to go with a different color!” I said, exclamation point visible. I didn’t think Rachel heard me, so I continued. “I think the one I picked is too light.” I tried to sound nonchalant, but I think I actually started to pant, and I dare say I felt my cheeks warm up. Rachel didn’t flinch.

When it was time to choose my new color, I rose from my seat with the self-consciousness of someone who just discovered that yes, she had forgotten to put on pants that day. I walked the plank. Selected something called Wicked … obviously not just for its bold, “outrageous” (for me) color (akin to dried blood), but really more for the name.

“This isn’t too CRAZY, is it?” I asked Rachel, actually peeking demurely at her plain face, seeking its and her approval. She looked at me as if I were, and replied in the negative, even adding that “it’s very popular”. And with that endorsement, a voice in my head prodded me on, saying, “All the cool kids are wearing it,” and years of awkward teenaged isolation instantly fell away. It was as if 1976 through 1981 … vanished. Then, as Rachel began applying the craziness to my nails, one of the other girls at the station to my left said something to her in Korean and they both laughed, which of course I interpreted as mockery of my choice and a decision to refuse to let me sit at their cool-girl lunch table. But still I charged on, ever the “trooper” (yes, I just said “trooper”).

Rachel expertly applied the polish (it even had the consistency of blood), and within five breathless minutes, I was the proud owner of ten perfectly wicked nails. Instantly I felt sexy … bold and daring … modern … on the edge … For a fleeting (oh so fleeting) second I pictured myself sporting a choppy, sassy, short, multi-colored ‘do, skateboarding down Eighth Avenue in Skechers, a tiny T-shirt with a number across my perky, braless chest, and cropped cargo pants hovering low enough on my 18-year-old hips to reveal my tiny thong in back and my funky bellybutton ring in front …

Despite the 30-degree weather, I purposely left my gloves off for the rest of my afternoon jaunt. During my entire foodquest through Whole Foods, I kept looking down at my hands and silently applauding them. I purposely let them linger on apples just so people passing by could admire them. When I placed my items on the checkout counter, I made sure the cashier got a good look at them. And about an hour after having left the nail salon, when I looked down at my hands wrapped around a cup of coffee at Starbucks (yes, I know, I know … I should really go somewhere cooler, especially now that I’m livin’ on the edge), I just knew that everyone who saw me saw only my hands, and thought, “Now THERE goes one hip, wicked chick.”