I once had long nails. Why did that happen? Well, I guess they just grew and kept growing. But seriously, why did I let it happen? Why did I become a long nailed person?
Long nails have a way of taking over, constantly breaking through their owner’s consciousness and adapting their own identity and demands. Really, it’s impossible not to feel or care for them, and while that was fascinating and heady at first, I can now admit it was a dangerous trap. Here’s what having long nails did for my life:
1. Produced first visit to a nail salon.
“OMG, look at your nails!! Girl we gotta get us a manicure RIGHT NOW.” Thus spoke my effervescent, twenty something cousin upon spotting my raggedy talons (this was sometime during their awkward growing stage). Ignoring my desperate protests, she dragged my incredibly reluctant self to Nail Spa, a shiny surfaced chamber decked out in incandescent lights and located in the bowels of a strip mall. Of course, this nail sanctum was run by a crew of tiny, sharp looking Asians whom I’m sure spotted me for a manicure virgin the second I walked through their door. My chic cousin, totally at ease, walked me over to a wall on one side of the room which featured nothing but seemingly endless rows of nail polish, in colors and color combinations I couldn’t have imagined existed. “Take your pick!” she chirped, as I stared in dumbstruck bewilderment.
After wasting about 20 minutes of life debating between the black with tiny green sparkles or the metallic blue with silver sparkles I finally made my choice then instantly regretted it. Fortunately, my nail guy was ready so I didn’t have long to mourn the sparkly blue, but rather was instantly ushered to a small chair parked in front of a section of counter which sported all kinds of foreign and frankly terrifying paraphernalia.
One side of this counter was manned by the Asians, all of them impeccably groomed and poker faced, while the other side was occupied by myself and a bevy of other customers, all which I’m sure had been in nail world before. Ignorant and ashamed, I tried to mask my confusion by talking to my manicurist, but the conversation could go only so far after discussing his occupation (yes, nail technician is a term and Nail School is a thing), his name (I tried cracking a joke about how common his Vietnamese surname Nguyen is and he didn’t laugh) the state of my nails (he gingerly held up the tips of my fingers, gazing at them with an expression of thinly veiled, albeit professional disgust) and the perks of the job (he completely clammed up after I mentioned he and the other workers must enjoy bad-mouthing their difficult customers in their secret language which to my defense, they were talking in the whole time I was there).
Fortunately, the process was over fast and while $25 poorer, not to mention feeling rather sheepish and abashed, I couldn’t keep my eyes of my hands. Finally my nails had their own presence and before I knew it, they had totally infected me with their beauty and style. How, I wondered, had I lived without this? However, there were repercussions to follow.
2. My nails, while truly gorgeous freaks of nature, were also high risk.
No longer could I thoughtlessly do things with my hands; rather, practically every movement required careful calculation.
After too many instances of carelessly stabbing random objects with my nails, which usually resulted in stabbing pain and nail damage, I developed new finger positions. Whereas before I could type, click and carry things with curved fingers now I walked around holding my fingers out flat, thus gently extending the surfaces to take the brunt of touching any object. While this spared my lovely long nails it also felt incredibly awkward and definitely made doing things more time consuming and clumsy looking. However, it was a small price to pay, or so I thought. Looking back, I can’t believe I actually thought that.
3. I couldn’t touch people the same way anymore.
I remember when I hugged someone and they actually backed away from me. This had never happened before and when I asked what was the matter, the person responded with, “Your nails were painfully digging into my arms.” In the warmth of the moment I had forgotten to extent my fingers flat. The same has happened in other situations; I severely scratched my nephew’s scalp while rubbing his head and opened a scab on my own leg while enthusiastically itching it, which resulted in a bloody mess. At least the scar will help me remember the time I sported real nails, I thought. I can’t believe I thought that either.
4. I became overly conscious of the state of my nails.
In my old life, all it took was a quick clip and clean once every few days or so to manage my nails and I rarely thought about them the rest of the time.
With the new state of my nails, cleaning them became an art and pastime, one that caused me to become adept at using all kinds of unusual tools such as sewing needles and even knife tips to get the minutest specks of dark matter out from under my nails. Furthermore, I would find myself at certain periods during the day just holding out my fingers out and staring intently for an absurd amount of time at those tips, as though they were rare and precious objects of beauty and intrigue. I would actually wince whenever I had to do a potentially dirty enterprise, such as cleaning out the sink or even petting the dog. In short, my diva nails were turning me into a real snob.
5. Yes, I was becoming that girl.
The girl I’d notice before, and while secretly half admiring, would still thankfully acknowledge I’d never be anything like her. The overly pampered, beauty and fashion obsessed princess with blinged out nails that actually matched her shoes and accessories. The length of the nails went with the length of the heels and while the overall effect screamed “Look at me, I’m desperately craving attention and admiration!,” it was still just so impressive. I wanted to be impressive, maybe not that impressive but still, I wouldn’t mind letting my inner J. Lo or Beyonce shine a little. Finally, thanks to my nails it was happening. Unfortunately, so was my new, not so impressive mindset.
6. I was becoming superficial and consequently more stupid.
The old me wouldn’t notice your nails if you waved them four inches from my face. The new me honed in on people’s nails before seeing the people and reacted accordingly. The other day at work someone asked me a question and I responded by blurting, “What kind of applique are you using?,” my brain having registered those intricate nail designs before her initial question even hit my consciousness.
7. It all became too much.
Finally, the day came when my eyes were opened. I can’t remember if it was during the moment I actually teared up in frustration after realizing I had chipped a fresh coat of polish or when I realized I had passed up the opportunity to play basketball (which I love) due to fear of breaking a nail, but it was probably the latter. I just couldn’t believe I had become that girl, the girl I used to shake my head at, the girl who was afraid to break a nail. Yes, that was me, and when the full realization finally hit I locked myself in the bathroom and told me roommate not to let me out until I had short nails again.
Yes, it was fun and yes, I felt like a special, exotic kind of glamorous bird, but I can finally admit it wasn’t me. The real me is way too down to earth, practical and plain nice to sport glamorous weapons for nails. Plus, I have more important things to do with my time then maintain diva nails. Like write about them. So yes, perhaps they are missed and maybe they will come back someday, but it won’t be the same. I won’t them consume me and I’ll never drop $$ on another nail salon as long as I live. I really really hope.