Tuesday, February 12, 2008

As Exciting as Watching Your Fingernails Grow

That's how exciting this post promises to be. I guarantee it.

Every now and then I try to make a conscious effort to break out of habits I have, just because I think it will be good for me. In addition, being exposed to (or should I say, subjected to witness) the habits of others frequently annoys the shit out of me, so I figure if I can reduce my own habitual behavior, I can claim -- at least to myself -- some kind of moral superiority while I'm cursing my habit-laden friends and colleagues. I'll work on that moral superiority thing another time, but right now we're talking about fingernail length.

For years, I've dutifully clipped my fingernails at least once a week. And no, I never clip in public, and the clippings always get flushed down the toilet so that my enemies (or friends who are fed up with me bitching about their dumb-assed habits) can't fetch them from the dustbin and take them to some voudou priestess who will concoct some kind of tool that renders me dirt poor and sexually unattractive (oh, woops... too late for both... but you get the idea).

I generally can't stand the fingernails to be more than about 2 millimeters long. Otherwise, I start getting all twitchy, thinking about all the nasty shit that can collect under there, or the possibility that I might scratch my cornea in the middle of the night and eventually end up blinded by some nasty infection. It also kind of makes me shudder if I see some random guy out in public who has an index finger nail that's about half an inch long. Grosser than gross (though not quite as vile as looking at the mutilated fingertips of those borderline psychotic nailbiters among us -- eek!). Thus, I generally keep my nails pretty much trimmed to the quick at all times.

But a couple of weeks ago I decided to Go Wild and bust out of the habitual shackles that mentally enslaved me. I started letting the nails grow. Last week, I flipped open the nail file tool on my mini Swiss Army knife keychain and actually filed down those sharp edges instead of clipping. I have to say, nail filing -- in addition to being way too effete for words -- might be one of the most bullshit time-suck activities known to man (surpassed perhaps only by writing about nail filing). Give me instead the satisfaction of sitting down for no more than two minutes with a nail clipper and concluding with a pile of keratinized detritus any day.

I'm coming up on three weeks of this little experiment, and after one round of effete nail filing, I have to say, I'm ready for the clippers. Take a good look at those pearly, perfectly shaped nails in the photo above, because in a couple of days, it's back down to the quick, baby. Some habits are just here to stay. Maybe next time I decide to bust out of my rut, I'll choose to explode a habit with a little more relevance -- like the habit of staying in a relatively unsatisfying job, or the habit of avoiding the dating game at all costs, or the habit of being irresponsible about my debt-income ratio. Today: fingernails; tomorrow: retirement account!

Oh, and, if you didn't notice at first glance, yes, I do have the dominant trait of mid-digital hair. Look closely.

How about we end with a little survey? Are you a frequent clipper? An effete filer? Or is there absolutely no rhyme or reason to your nail hygiene?


Huntington said...

I'm one of those borderline psychotic nailbiters. Eek to me, but lately I have been trying to clip.

It's the ragged shape of my cuticles I truly deplore.

Ladron de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Every 10 to 12 day clipper. Otherwise I might follow Huntington's oral-pedal extremities approach.

Salty Miss Jill said...

My nails are so weak they break in a strong wind...and I usually file the rest.
I kind of miss having my acrylic tips...not as much as the attention from the saucy Vietnamese manicurists, though.

copperred said...

I tear my nails when they get to long, but never too far down. That makes me go "owie!". I tried to be a good gay man and use a file and clippers, but I just can't.; it's as satisfying as fake sugar cola.

BigAssBelle said...

i always wanted to be a nail biter but my nails are, um . . hard as nails. unbiteable.

i used to be a filer, but that was when i had the glamorous hands of one who works for others, using her brain. my nails were gorgeous, always perfect, always polished. toenails too. and they were mine ~ none of that built up fake crap.

now? sigh. how our standards have fallen. now that i work for myself and it is actually work-work, meaning physical work (in part), my nails are very short and i have become an expedient clipper.

i've had the unfortunate experience of catching my thumbnail beneath the lip of a 300 pound sideboard, which sideboard yanks back said delicate nail, causing me to screech and moan for an hour. since that episode, i have been as compulsive about clipping as you are and as i'm typing, i'm looking at my fingers and i'm seeing just a hairline of white at the tip of one and so i must dash for the clippers NOW!

write something about toenails because i have hellish toenail stories :-)

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