Whenever I drive down the Post Road, which is the small business equivalent of Disney World, I see the changing face of this great — and getting greater — land of ours. I see smoke shops, fortune tellers, fitness clubs, Popeyes, Starbucks, nail salons, urgent care clinics, microbreweries, nail salons, more urgent care clinics, more Starbucks, more nail salons…
So much economic potential, so many new businesses. I’m convinced that if President Trump wants to sustain the robust U.S. economy, the secret lies in nail salons and microbreweries. Not Google or Amazon.
From Maine to Florida, you’ll get a good glimpse of America on the Post Road. A visitor from Mars, not to mention the European Union, would surely conclude our primary pastimes as Americans are drinking coffee, having our toenails pruned, eating chicken wings and exercising our constitutionally guaranteed right to health care.
As purveyors of the cultural scene, what does this tell us? The answer is obvious. Americans are smoking too much and drinking too much (coffee and beer), they’re falling off bar stools and elliptical machines, and getting rushed to urgent care centers for everything from common colds to broken bones and hangnails.
In my travels from one side of town to the other, I’ve observed a microcosm of America with the perceptive insights of Alexis Charles Henri Clérel, Viscount de Tocqueville. (If you don’t know who he is, consider it a blessing.) I’ve witnessed our economic diversity and vitality. I’ve experienced the miracle that is Starbucks, which has become more popular than our public libraries and houses of worship. There are so many habitues sipping high-fat coffee drinks and working on their laptops that you can’t find a seat. Free Internet, which is another constitutionally guaranteed right, brings out the worst in humanity.
Pretty soon, nail salons will be serving lattes and offering free Internet so that customers can surf the Web while their toes are getting pruned and polished. Nail salons provide a service you can’t find in the coffee shop — therapy. If you have a personal problem, tell your manicurist and/or your bartender, both of whom are certified to offer free counseling.
Nail salons provide this necessary social service to all people, regardless of race, creed, gender, income and hygiene. And they charge a lot less than psychotherapists, who may have to start offering pedicures to regain a competitive edge.
Quite honestly, I’ve never understood the attraction of nail salons. Can’t women do that stuff themselves? Everyone in my family — one wife, four daughters and a dog — is always whining, “I have to get my nails done!” usually 45 minutes before they have to leave for a funeral or graduation or dog obedience class.
Nail salons are as popular as fitness centers, of which every town has at least four. Fitness centers have replaced church as the place to go on Sunday, at least if you’re not having your nails done. What I find peculiar is that everyone in America seems to have a membership in a fitness club, yet we have one of the highest obesity rates among developed countries and our longevity is shrinking every year.
When most guys leave the fitness center, they usually stop off at the microbrewery. The other day, I was driving through town and saw several hundred cars crammed into the parking lot of an Italian restaurant that had been closed for months. It was resurrected as a microbrewery and making a fortune selling craft beer.
For those of you who have no appreciation for hip new trends, let me, a self-proclaimed devotee of hipness, explain. A microbrewery is a place where they serve very small beers in thimble-sized mugs, sort of like a Japanese tea ceremony. That’s why they call it “micro.” The disadvantage is that you have to drink for days, sometimes weeks, before you get a buzz. Microbreweries are the Starbucks of beer halls.
Where were these outlets of festivity and revelry when I was still carousing and making merry and making mayhem? I seldom go out anymore. Instead, I limit myself to old geezer pleasures, like having my toe nails trimmed, followed by a dinner of chicken wings, followed by a trip to urgent care center to treat my indigestion.
Joe Pisani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.