Things I Learned From My Fake Nails

Life with nails is a new rodeo.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

The other day I got acrylic nails.

I’m no stranger to splurging on aesthetics, but nails had always evaded me. I viewed nails as a trivial aspect of one’s appearance; rarely do I wear basic polish. When I meet someone for the first time, I hone in on their face. Maybe their body. In an ideal world, neither of these would outweigh the focus on one’s personality, but we’re visual creatures.

The “procedures” I’ve underwent have always been for my entertainment. They don’t transpire through some desire for others to approve of me more, nor for me to approve of me more. I know what you’re thinking — I could read a book or watch a movie for such entertainment. Plenty of other activities suffice, but appearance is fun to tinker with. It’s both a performance and declaration. Rocking seafoam eyeshadow or red lip elicits a distinct rush. When you look in the mirror, you don’t see yourself as someone better — you see someone different.

Nothing is wrong with the “original” you, but change is exciting. The phenomenon transcends aesthetic provisions, because you’ll feel that same excitement upon trying a new restaurant or moving across the state. With endless possibilities, life is too short for monotony. I suppose that’s what I was thinking as I drove to the nail salon for the first time in over a year. I had spare cash and time on hand, and while I could’ve used those resources for something considerably productive, I chose to get my nails done.

The filing, gluing, painting, and solidifying took about forty five minutes. Slightly tedious, but not as much as when I got blonde highlights and sat in the hair salon for three hours. My nails’ installation hardly compared to my acclimation to them, though — life with nails is a new rodeo. For starters, I can’t quell an itch because my perfectly-smoothed nails aren’t sharp enough. Instead, I scrape my teeth against my wrist, and earrings along unreachable surfaces. I can’t rummage through my drawers or lift items haphazardly; nor can I pick my tear ducts, nose, and teeth (don’t pretend you don’t — all are necessary), and I struggle to grab crumbs, strands of hair, or other thin items. However, the most detrimental hassle is typing. Texting on my phone isn’t terrible because I use the sides of my thumbs, but a computer is another animal. Seriously, you don’t realize how crucial your fingertips are until you lose access to them. Try typing on your fingers’ pads instead of their tips. Clearly it’s possible, as I’m doing it right now, but the pace is significantly slower. Perhaps this wouldn’t be an issue if I didn’t pursue a career requiring me to labor at my keyboard, but such is the life of a writer. This brings me to my predicament.

I like my new nails. They’re chic and classy. Clacking them together — like some evil genius — soothes me, and I enjoy how my rings look underneath them. After listing my grievances you’d expect me rip the nails off, but… I don’t want to. Now that I’ve adjusted to their sight, I’d rather not return to my stumpy fingertips. Admittedly, I could’ve predicted this. I get my eyelash extensions refilled every two weeks and lips re-injected every six months because both looks have become my new normal. When I skip an appointment, I don’t dislike my reflection. But I prefer the enhanced one, so I revive it.

Appearances aside, though, my nail conundrum led me to contemplate other pursuits that weren’t exactly functional, but provided me some sort of aesthetic benefit. I’ve remained in mediocre relationships because I liked having someone. Well, looking like I had someone. Looking cute in pictures and showing up to parties together. I’ve remained in bloodsucking friendships for the same reason. Did the pros surpass the cons? Maybe not, but the pros gleamed in headlights while the cons were a spark I could conceal. The cons shame you when they’re public. If your boyfriend screams at you in restaurants, your dignity will likely take a hit. If you’re stumbling in six-inch heels, the shoes won’t fulfill the “glamour” which you aspire. But when the cons are private, they’re a lot easier to stifle… until you can’t anymore. I left the semi-prestigious university I used to attend because the environment made me want to slam my head through a wall. My public departure embarrassed me, but it hardly touched the pain of staying.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with nails. Roll with me here. The pros and cons of any experiment lie on a spectrum. Think of a seesaw. The pros exist on the far right and the cons on the far left. If the pros exist in the middle of the right and the cons on far left, the cons would tip the scale. However, when the pros dwell in the far right with the cons closer to center, you’ll heed to the pros. if I worked a job that granted ample vacation days and paid six-figures, but my coworkers sucked, I’d wouldn’t put in my two weeks. I’m applying the same formula to my nails.

I’ve decided to keep them. Maybe one day I’ll change my mind. I’d abandon the nails if a new endeavor backflipped the cons left, like if I took up gardening. Dirt snaggled between my expensive nails would probably defeat their purpose. As of now, though, my nails shall remain. Yes, they’re a nuisance, but they’re a pretty nuisance. They’re one I can deal with, because according to my standards, my new nails are worth every inconvenience.

poetry, prose, coffee. melissark77@gmail.com

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