My Pretty Thumb Nail

I don’t like my nails too long, and I don’t like them gnawed back to the nub. I like them just right. My left thumbnail has not been just right for a long time. This is how I “think” it got that way…

It was somewhere just before COVID. I developed a passion for pistachios–specifically the shelled variety. I was never brave enough to take on my wife’s wrath by eating them while watching TV on the couch. But, lest we get distracted, it wasn’t a problem with where I ate the pistachios; it was how I ate them. The shells on most of these green nuts were anxious to give up their contents–the happier the shell, the easier the nut was removed. [see Happy Fruit] The problem was when the shell was not smiling at all.

Back in my early days of eating pistachios, my left thumbnail was the “wedge” of choice. I would lodge it between the barely smiling shells and try and pry the shell open. While I had a good deal of success, it slowly eroded the layers of my thumbnail. Over time, the central part of my thumbnail was depleted of a layer or two of its “naily-ness.” When I was made aware of the “use the shell from a pistachio to pry open your future pistachio” method, my thumbnail was spared any further shame.

The nail continued in this degraded state for many months. Even though my thumb was no longer a tool for snacking, the nail never recovered. It continued to peel back since it was not smooth. I would trim it hoping to fix the problem, but the nail was always peeling beyond my ability to comfortably trim it back. Then I saw my daughter’s clear fingernail polish…

I have never had my fingernails done. There is a vague memory of my mother twisting my arm and having my toenails done when I was very young…or maybe it was my brother. The clear polish provided a possible solution to my problem. First, it would provide a smooth coat on my nail. If the nail was smooth, the layers of the nail would not continue to wear away unevenly. And, the big one, the clear polish would go mostly unnoticed.

The longer the recovery takes the more selective I can be in helping with dinner. I have been known to say, “I can’t help cut potatoes now because I just did my nail.”

I am close to restoring my nails, but it has not been entirely smooth. I have had to do multiple coats to make the polish more durable. I have had to let my wife in on my project. As long as I stay with the clear polish, she tells me she won’t worry about me. If I am lucky and my daughter forgets to take her clear polish back to school with her, my thumb may return to its naturally handsome state by the end of the month…or later.

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