Nailed It

Angelous Ginanena

I am in a troubling situation. Usually, when faced with the normalcy of growing nails, I would simply bite them off, chew on them for a bit, or longer, then spit them out somewhere, letting them make a home out of whichever terrain they decided to land before being swept away. Sometimes I would get creative with where I decided to spit my chewed nail. Sometimes, I would have the nail in my mouth for hours, playing around with it like a piece of dirty gum. Sometimes, I would bite multiple nails off and play little games with them in my mouth, many of which I found entertaining, and all of which should have given me some sort of oral disease by now. Often, the nail biting would be so addicting that I would bite the still growing cuticles, gnawing at my skin whole. My fingers were a mighty mess, an assortment of peeled skin pleading for mercy from my unsparing jaws.

The end of summer saw immediate change.

I no longer bite my nails. It was tough, the initial withdrawal period. I had to exercise restraint not common to me, a veteran of about 15 years. However, with the right mindset, I was able to work my way through a day, three days, a week, two weeks, a whole month without snaking on my nail cuticles. My skin slowly but surely regenerated to a healthy state and I was donning 3-millimetre-long beauties on each finger. The feasting needs subsided and I was able to fully appreciate the neatness of my nails. I looked to groom them regularly. They were mine to make beautiful.

I was questioned about my nails. “Why keep them so long?”, they asked. I replied without hesitation that they looked nice and would like to keep them that way. Unfortunately, good things never last. I learnt that the hard way. Second basketball practice of the year, us teammates still getting used to each other’s strengths and weaknesses. A team member not particularly skilled in passing jetted towards my unready and gentle hands. Snap! My left index finger nail snapped off and black blood started to clot under the nail. I was distraught, witnessing a month and a half worth of fasting end in utter destruction. Multiple warnings from my mother that long nails were not suited for sports and this gruesome event resulted in the cutting of all the nails down to a more suitable size; either that or my fondness for perfect symmetry.

Since then, I have had to cut my nails biweekly due to popular demand, but I have still been able to avoid munching them. However, it is imperative that I keep them short, and the shortness just does not suit my taste anymore; when exposed to the finer things, one can only live being treated to said finer things. So what am I to do: task myself with weekly snipping, slicing away all the last bits of joy I found in growing impeccable nails, or succumb to the deep calling to bite my nails again, indulging in old time thrills that could possibly help me forget the new me, but also put me in trouble with my mother and billions of unhealthy bacteria? Readers, I need your help, and I need it bad.