Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fail nails part 2: In which I try to stop biting my nails

I am a nail biter.

I know, I know. It's gross. It's not poised or classy or grateful (y'know, all the things for which I strive but fail miserably). It's unhealthy, exposing you to harmful bacteria and worms. It leads to desperate measures like trying cheap fake nails (see the previous post). It's so yucky and socially looked-down upon that I feel akin to a crack addict when I nibble a nail in class. I then usually look up to the judgmental and repulsed glare of a polished princess with a prim french manicure sparkling in the dull fluorescent light. Caught in the act!

Sometime in high school, I made the conscious effort to STOP BITING MY NAILS. I stopped drinking soda for 6 months once, and that gave me headaches and vicious withdraw symptoms. As far as I know, not nail biting never gave anyone headaches. I could do this.

I briefly entertained the idea of taking up smoking. Replacing one vice with another? But the risk of cancer in exchange for the risk of pinworms didn't seem like a solid tradeoff. Also, cigarettes make me cough and make my clothes all smell weird.

I tried gum chewing for a bit, so I had something in my mouth besides the tips of my fingers. But I had to chew gum CONSTANTLY or I'd sneak in a bite. And then I couldn't just have a hangnail there... so I would bite the whole thing off. And then the other nine nails. I can't chew gum constantly. I have TMJ - a slipped disk in my jaw. After 30 minutes or so of chewing, I hear little clicks and pops and soreness develops. Also constant chewing = headaches. NOT AGAIN, DAMMIT.

So I head to the local drugstore to get some of that spicy-burning paint-on stuff that deters you from nail biting because it enflames your mouth with agony. I just need to break the cycle. I browse the mani/pedi section for a while (the same section from which I bought my fake toenails) and saw nothing. I would not be deterred. I found what seemed like a helpful clerk.

"Excuse me ma'am, I can't seem to find something."
"Sure, hon, what're you looking for?"
"Well um, I'm looking for the spicy paint-on nail stuff. You know, like polish, except it keeps you from biting your nails?"

Her friendly, How-May-I-Help-You? smile turned to a scowl of shock and disgust. You would have thought I asked what aisle the Nazi memorabilia was on. Her eyes trailed down to my stubby nails of shame, and I quickly clasped them behind my back.

"Oh," she sneered. "That's in the BABY aisle. It's mostly used for BABIES and TODDLERS to get them to stop sucking their thumbs. That's all we have. In the baby aisle. For babies. You can find it." She glared at me.

Self-esteem shattered. This doughy drugstore woman's judgment shamed me. I was no better than an impudent child who sucked its thumb.

Clearly, the correct reply to this statement should have been: "BITCH PLZ, You work at a Walgreens. Nail biting is my only vice. Your vices seem to be fast food and QVC shopping. JUDGE NOT LEST YE BE JUDGED." But I meekly scurried down the baby aisle and got a bottle, thankfully checking out with another clerk.

I got home and painted my nails right away. And all the skin around my nails, probably up to my first knuckle. I was going to have long, healthy nails. People were going to be jealous. I was going to be a lady.

One of the characteristics of infant-designated items, from baby asprin to anti-thumb-sucking polish, is it comes in doses that are perfectly tolerable by small children. An hour later, I bit on my nails, thinking the  spiciness added a nice mild cajun flavor. So you know, as far as failures go, at least this was a tasty one.

Until 15 seconds later when I rubbed my eye.

I let out a bloodcurdling shriek and started running around the room, probably in circles, alternately flapping my hands and rubbing at my throbbing, burning eye, only making it worse. It felt as though the fires of Hell had invaded my tearduct and were trying to burn a hole in my head. Absolute ocular agony.

This is why my future dream house will have an emergency chemical eyewash station off the kitchen.

I tossed the bottle, preferring my vision remaining intact than my mild doses of nail biting humiliation.


I have since mostly kicked the habit through a steady stream of manicures. Which usually leaves me broke but smugly content, until the next life crisis comes around and I bite them all off in 2 minutes flat.

I once quit cold turkey last July for over a month after accidentally stumbling across Anthony Goicolea's "Nail Biter" film in the Guggenheim. I thought I was going to vomit. It's probably the most disturbing and horrify film I've ever watched, and it's only like 4 minutes long. I'm not going to post a link, though you can find clips of it easily online. So. Much. Saliva. Yuckkk.

"Aww hayyy" -  bright highlighter-orange nails freshly manicured yesterday.


Lea said...

Goodness, I have the same problem. I've bitten my nails since I was about four and have managed to quit for as long as a year at a time. But then I always end up biting :(

As of right now, I haven't bitten for a few weeks now. The only way I can manage to not bite them is by painting them too. Hehe.

Erin said...

I am so in the same boat. And I twirl my hair like its my job. Kudos to you for trying to kick the habit! You are a far stronger gal than I!

LOVE JOICE said...

Hi, thanks for your comment and your question on the crochet bathing suit? I took the photo from I think you can find it there! xx Joice

Ali said...

I've never been a nail biter but my boyfriend is! his nails look so terrible but the weird thing is I can never catch him biting them! sneaky. maybe he needs some manicures, hehe. or that video could do the trick? I'm scared to watch it myself!

R. Grace said...

It's basically four minutes of a guy biting his nails filmed at weird angles through night-vision... but it becomes increasingly frantic and his shirt/face starts getting covered in nail clippings and saliva, to the point where you feel panicked just watching, like something horrible is going to happen.

From an art standpoint it's phenomenal - I've never had such an extreme and immediate reaction to something. From a nailbiter standpoint... you might gag.