Woe the loss, sad is the day. My thumbnail broke.
Brittle nails that break scourge my female sensibility. Despite being an inconvenience when playing guitar, long—or in my case, even fingertip length—fingernails seemed to be a hallmark of femininity. Filing, shaping, polishing, and having colored nails announced some mastery of the feminine identity, as much as high-heeled shoes or pouffy hairstyles when I was young. Somehow this connection followed me to this stage of adulthood. Thus, the lament.
How could this be? And here, I have invested time and money into preserving its length and shape, giving it hue and shine, an armored coat of lacquer to protect it. Yet it broke, in the same place as usual, saying “nyah nyah” to the care afforded it and the color applied.
Maybe I should have chosen a stronger color than number 80, a bubblegum pink. Eighty seems not to be my lucky number. Perhaps a springy green (74), metallic studded gray (88), or armor blue-black (87) could have averted this tragedy, mishap, failure. Gold (72) for richness couldn’t have prevented a break, nor could the delicacy and fair dusting of pink sparkles in a clear background (82). But setting aside fickle numerology or the vagaries of color protection in nail polish, the fact remains that my DNA codes for brittle nails and any color would have failed me.
What genetic advantage could weak nails have afforded my great-great-great-etc.-grandmothers all the way back to Sinai? Lacking steel tweezers, tough nails could have removed splinters; minus bamboo backscratchers, they would have pleased many generations of itchy backs…. Useful for picking up nickels off counters, scraping excess paint from a canvas, making that tap tap tapping sound when drumming fingers on a tabletop….
What an impractical question, and a more impracticable answer. Weak nails just are. There’s no explanation, no justification. Having snagged on my blouse and pulled off, the nail tip fragment is now lying on my desk. I hadn’t the heart to toss it in the trash as I am writing. I’m staring at it, it is staring at me, and we are staring at each other together. It’s a stalemate.
It hurts, but it doesn’t hurt hurt. May this be my biggest tragedy in life. A broken nail. May we all not suffer more than a broken nail. Two broken nails even. That should be the worst thing to happen. Ever.