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Eloise Gets a Manicure

Eloise Valentine Lynch sits in an enormous black manicure chair on a rainy December afternoon at Nail Station salon in Silver Lake. Her small knees are pulled into her chest, her brown hair is pulled back in a ponytail, and peeking out in front of her are black-and-white Converse All-Stars covered in handwritten peace signs and Beatles lyrics, all inspired by the Julie Taymor film Across the Universe, which Eloise recently saw and “loved!” The precocious 12-year-old — is there any other kind these days? — is getting her nails done.

Eloise briefly considered getting floral appliqués, but many of her nails were just too small to contain them. Instead, she’s asked the salon’s Vietnamese manicurist to brush pink and black polish on alternating nails, and then add a topcoat of silver glitter.

Button-nosed Eloise is uncharacteristically thoughtful and quiet this afternoon. It may be the rain, or more likely the fact that she is being questioned. Usually the freckled tween is extremely animated and prone to slipping in and out of characters: old men, cholos, mean girls, etc. She also takes dance lessons.

“Dance class is so hard — a lot harder than I thought it would be,” she says. “Today I had to dance in front of the whole class.”

Do you have any thoughts about the new year? Are you excited?

“Kinda. It’s not gonna be 2007. Everyone makes New Year’s revolu . . . resolutions — they usually don’t follow through.”

Have you made them before?

“Yeah.”

Do you mind me asking you what they were?

“ ‘I’m not gonna be a brat to my parents.’ ” She pauses, and then, shaking her head, says, “No, that didn’t work.”

Have you made any others?

“When I was little, I made a resolution that I would get a pony, but I didn’t really get the concept of what a resolution was. I thought you wished for something and got it.”

Do you believe in God?

“I’m not really religious. I believe in God, but I don’t worship him. I believe that he is a spirit. I believe God is a girl. A lot of people read the Bible and have it in their heads that he is a man. Everyone follows the church that they go to. If someone said God was a rabbit and that was their church, they would believe it.”

What about Christmas?

“I’ve wanted the same thing for Christmas for five years, a puppy. That image of, like, warm by the fire and opening the present and a little puppy running out. It’s so perfect, but usually I get stuff.”

Eloise, who is wearing white leggings and two tank tops, winces as the manicurist uses remover on her cuticles.

“Alcohol, dang, it stings. It gets in the cuts.”

You had a dog before — Rainbow Cookie Sparkle Heart. Has it been five years since she died?

“Yeah, and I feel really bad about neglecting her when I did have her. If I had her now, I would treat her so much better. I have four cats.”

Do you take good care of them?

“Yeah, but you can’t walk a cat or anything, and they keep you up all night.”

What else have you been thinking about these days?

“Clothes. I take, like, five hours in the morning picking out my clothes. Like, this morning I picked out nine different outfits before I could go. Can we talk about the kind of girls we don’t like?”

Sure, what kinds of girls do you not like?

“I really don’t like girls who are, ‘I am so pretty I don’t have to think about anyone else.’ I mean, I try and look good, but I am not so conceited about it, telling other girls they aren’t as pretty as me.”

Well, let’s focus on the positive. What kinds of girls do you like?

“The girls I like are funny and really nice. I try to focus on people who are nice to me. Like my friends Katia and Ruby — they are all, like, totally my friends and stuff. I have lots of friends.”

What about boys, which kinds do you not like?

“The kind who are nice to you just because you’re pretty — or not nice to you when other boys are around. I love funny people, ’cause I consider myself funny. Someone who can make me laugh is the best person ever.”

Who is really funny to you?

“Michael Cera . . . Superbad — it was the best movie ever. I was not supposed to see it. It was just so amazing. The characters have the best personalities. I am totally in love with Michael Cera, I saw him on Arrested Development.

You also seem pretty passionate about Across the Universe.

“Like, my favorite movie in the world. Let me take you down ’cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields. I heart Across the Universe. It was amazing. It made me cry. This little boy dies. There is a big war . . .”

The manicurist finishes the last brush stroke of topcoat. The silver really is quite fetching.