Wednesday, October 3, 2007

In praise of fingernails

In praise of what?

Nails, fingernails - you know those things that (theoretically) grow at the end of your fingers.

I'm temporarily fascinated with them at the moment because for the first time in my adult life I have them...well...long strong ones anyway. I am enjoying a brief foray into the world of (relative) talons!! See?

Mine usually break and split and peel and flake, but I have recently returned from a very long trip away from work, housework, dishes etc as well as day to day stress and lo and behold I have nails!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've been back for 3 weeks now and my nails are still long and strong. Its as if some switch has been reset. You see I have a theory about my nails.

You know the saying "hanging on by one's fingernails"?. I believe it to be true, and for a long period in my life I could almost gauge my stress levels by the length/state of my nails. If I was down to a millimetre or so, or if they all broke off in a day I had a sense that I didn't have much left to hang on with or by. I was literally losing my grip. Looking back on this period I may have not been eating well due to chronic stress, or I could have been engaging in way too much self-defeating talk, but it is interesting that it has come and gone periodically since.

I do look after them (although not to the point of wearing rubber gloves for washing up) and I have an emery board in every handbag, in the car, by my bed, stashed at work, by the phone. I hate having a catch. Maybe its because I used to bite my nails until I was 12, really badly, into the quick and all, so i know I can't trust myself to worry at a stray splinter of nail. I have also bought at some time or other every peel/flake/split/strengthener on the market. However in recent years I just kept them short and the flaking took care of the rest to keep them that way. They certainly never strayed over the tips of my fingers. I have been at uni for half a decade, pounding keyboards, and working in the clinical area where I wash my hands many, many times per day and have to keep nails very short to handle women and newborns.

As I go back to work in 10 days time this state clearly won't last, but I am just noticing the unaccustomed pros and cons of having long nails. They click when I type, I can drum tunes on the desk, I can accidentally scratch people (including myself) and I am finding they impact on my ability to dress quickly!

Incidentally I am extremely intolerant of long toenails (shudder, skin crawling). I can't bear to have long toenails, but I know plenty of people who do, and even have them French polished!

Maybe that's what I should do before I cut them off for work. I should have a last indulge and get a manicure and French polish. I chose not to use any nail polish while travelling to be low maintenance (I rarely wear it anyway), but have been tempted by the idea of painting them for fun before 'off with their heads'.

One more shot of my very average looking hand with these nails.

Anyway...apologies for the randomness of the things that amuse me (sigh). I clearly need to go back to work. I have way too much time on my hands!


Lesley (El Zed) said...

Just don't paint them black - OMG that's awful. So is that so-called French look with the huge white bricks at the end - how any woman puts up with those square tips baffles me!

Karen said...

I'm with Les on the French style - yuk!
But I love your post on nails and can identify big time!
I was a chronic nail biter until the age of 22, when I was overseas for a while, and discovered blood on my bath towel from a fresh scratch on the bridge of my nose. WTF? I had fingernails! I'd been so busy I'd not had a moment to chew!
Then ensued a glorious period of gorgeous nails. I shaped them to an elegant oval, and painted them pink, or coral, or red. If I passed a green wall or hedge, I'd hold up my hand to admire the lovely combination of flesh and coloured nails against it.
Age 29: babies. Bye bye nails. Now I always keep them clipped short when housework and stress don't do the job for me, and I read that nail lacquer contains xeno-oestrogens ... I wish I'd taken a picture of my hands in 1983!