Hand Models Have It All (Except a Body)

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Photo: Courtesy of Instagram/paintboxnails

It has been said that you can tell a lot about a person by their hands. If they are rough and ugly, that means the person has worked a much harder job than you. If they are soft and delicate, the person may be a baby. If they are small and not yours, but someone else’s, chances are the hands belong to singer-songwriter Jewel. Hands come in all varieties: old, young, yours, mine, baby.

And then there are the hands that come with no body attached to them. Get a load of this: Wouldn’t it be so great to be a set of hands with no limbs, torso, or head to worry about? Carefree and clean, stroking oranges, getting manicures, loosely grasping a pink lemonade, occasionally throwing on a glove to ward off the chilly weather. Imagine never having to do any of the things a body has to do, like poop or pay taxes. Wouldn’t that be divine?

This is why I aspire to someday be as handloose and fancy-free as a Paintbox hand model.

At the Paintbox salon in Soho, manicures are given in a clean room nicer than your apartment, with music louder than you’re comfortable with, for a sum that you should probably be putting toward a retirement fund. Afterward, your nails look like an SVA grad student’s senior printmaking project: geometric, brightly colored, and cooler than you. Oh, and also, they give you a glass of Champagne.

But, long before walking into the salon, it is customary for a patron to scroll through weeks of Paintbox’s immaculately curated Instagram to determine which design one likes best. And if I’ve learned anything while scrolling, it is that the life of a Paintbox hand model is a life of exquisite, almost unimaginable ennui and luxury.

A Paintbox hand model exists in a world of pure whimsy, a world where employment, flossing, and Kevin James do not exist. Why would the Paintbox hand model need a job when, in her universe, money is no object? She only touches candy, chocolate, cake, alcohol, and tropical fruits. (Does she actually eat things? Impossible to say. But she would never dream of draping her unblemished mitts over a plate of refried beans or an uncooked steak, after all.) She plays the piano. She hovers one index finger over a laptop keyboard without needing to type a thing. She lets the whipped cream from a milkshake drip down over her hands. Why? Because she has nowhere else to be but here: in the millennial woman’s version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Go ahead — lick your nails. They taste just like nail polish.

A Paintbox hand model gently pets exotic flowers as if she were whispering, “There, there, sweet flower. Rest up.” A Paintbox hand model has an entire datebook with no appointments written in it except a reminder to get a Paintbox manicure. A Paintbox hand model is always just slightly out of reach of the item she is attempting to grasp.

The most essential skill one can have as a Paintbox hand model is knowing how to hold a costly prop — whether a bar of chocolate, a flute of rosé Champagne, or a Brazilian passport — as if it were just about to slip out of one’s hands and come tumbling to the ground. One cannot grip anything too tightly or too gently.

The skill of holding precious things delicately is indispensable, and that is why a Paintbox hand model need not retire when her most important asset begins to wither and age. Instead, she has many lucrative second-career options ahead of her: nursing newborn chicks, throwing grenades, being a human egg crate. But hey, who am I to dole out career advice to disembodied pairs of hands? I pay money for someone to administer shellacked paint to my fingernails.