To The Man Clipping His Toenails In The Equinox Locker Room This Morning

Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation

I write to you in a post-traumatic haze, still reeling from the image of you trimming your talons with a ferocity normally reserved for industrial wire-cutting. You should have noticed me – the half-naked guy serving you some vicious side-eye as your crime against humanity unfolded – but you were too engrossed in your hooves to notice the gaping stare of your fellow man.

It was the sound that struck me first: the unmistakable click-click-click you should only hear bouncing off of the tiles of your own bathroom. I turned to find you genuflecting over your right leg, towel draped around your marshmallow torso, hacking away at three months of overgrowth as my post-vinyasa high gave way to primal rage.

Then you picked up the pace. The blitzkrieg rained down. Click-click-CLICK! The shrapnel flew this way and that, embedding itself in my towel, my mat, my clothes. I jumped into my pants, threw my gym bag under the bench for cover – but there was no escape. By the time your horrifying process had finished, the 200 block of the locker room was a wasteland of exploded debris, and the lingering odor of hyponychium – which, let me tell you, makes Agent Orange smell like Chanel No. 5 – hung in the locker bay, an olfactory nightmare from which I have yet to awaken.

But as I crawled my way out of the war zone, I was struck by a very different emotion – something I can only describe as something akin to admiration.

I believe, sir, that I am in awe of you.

Because despite the disapproving stares of your fellow man, despite the long-standing customs of civilization, despite the implicit rules of basic decency, you said, “Fuck it – I need a clip.” And so you clipped. That is a level of consummate DGAF-ery I have to respect.

You see, I have lived my careful little life by a code of self-awareness that constantly assimilates, perhaps to an absurd degree, the opinions of my fellow apes. I speak in quiet, considerate tones in public; I hold doors and make room in elevators; I wipe down gym equipment and keep my manspreadish knees in check; and I always – always – clip my nails at a sink, usually in the soundproof privacy of my own home, unless it’s an absolute emergency, and even then I keep the trim to a min (that’s short for “minimum,” not “minute,” though incidentally I rarely exceed 60 seconds’ worth of preening – an act you managed to extend into a heinous 10-minute breach).

This is the code I live by, and I maintain it for the simple reason that I expect the same from others. And because I’m genuinely afraid of what would happen – to me and to society – if I became the sort of beast who tossed out the social contract.

Now I know the answer: nothing. Nothing would happen.

Because while you unleashed the artillery of your toenails on our sacred space, the world kept spinning, life continued its forward march, some faceless attendant swept up the detritus, and I could only stop and stare – then write an open letter that you, with your freshly-primped paws, will probably never read.

So thank you, feral nailmongerer, for shattering the fictions of propriety, consideration, and consequence. Oh, don’t get me wrong: I’ll never accept the attaque à outrance you unleashed this morning. But if I refrain from perpetuating the cycle, then it’s no longer because I fear my fellow man, but because I love him the way you cannot – and because I refuse to be you, you brutish philistine.


Gabriel Mizrahi

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