|Note the wide-eyed yet glazed look.|
My mom tried things. Some kind of junk she painted on my nails to make them taste bad—didn’t taste bad enough. She bribed me with a nail kit, or with a bright red polish I coveted. No matter what, I couldn’t stop biting my nails. Maybe it was anxiety as a kid—I also had insomnia and panic attacks—but as an adult it became second nature. I’ve always hated it. The feeling of plunging my exposed nail beds in hot water when I worked as a dishwasher. The way my lips get dried out when I do it. The throbbing pain when I tear the wrong piece off, which can only be soothed with a tight bandage over the fingertip. The way my fingertips are starting to wrinkle, I assume from being damp my whole life. Just the other night while I worked on an essay, I had to stop what I was doing and paint my nails, which I do approximately once a year, because I was distracting myself with my chomping.
My husband hates it when he hears me chewing my fingernails. He also notes that I often stare into space, looking a little dull, let’s say, and chew on myself, as he calls it. It drives him bananas, and every now and then he will sort of slap my hand out of my mouth. Which pisses me right off.
And I can stop. If I keep my nails painted, always painted, I don’t bite them. One summer my friend got married and I grew my nails out for the whole summer. It was a pain, but I kept them painted all summer long. Oh, I can stop biting my nails easily.
But the thing is—OK, like right now my nails are painted still from the other night. I haven’t bitten them. My cuticles, on the other hand, are ravaged. Hangnails abound in various stages of healing.
That’s one of the grossest things about me. I chew my nails and pick fingernail chippings out of my teeth. See, we're getting to know each other. There are other gross things about me, but that's, like, second year material at least. What’s gross about you?