I have perfect nails, now

by Rod Smith

When I was a child there were days when every finger on both my hands would bleed from my biting and ripping my nails. I’d bite and rip until shiny puddles of blood and spit would pool in what was left of my fingertips. I’d make fists to hide the damage or tuck the wounded digits into my school pants pockets where the blood and spit would stain the pockets. If I pulled the pockets from the trousers they’d be a dull red or a darkened brown on the white cloth depending on the stain’s age. They’d look like a handkerchief applied to a bleeding nose. It was a painful habit and I was ashamed of my fingers and I hid my hands. The shame and pain did not stop this incessant indulgence which persisted well into my adulthood. My dad”s only and repeated remedy, which was never acted upon, was the threat to apply some bitter substance he’d known as a child. Mother never referred to my nail-biting but to sometimes say, “Don’t bite your nails,” and, “If you swallow a nail you’ll puncture your lungs.” Despite the graphic image of me exploding like a punctured balloon her exhortations were unsuccessful.

2 Comments to “I have perfect nails, now”

  1. ‘Stop ‘n grow’ liquid was my mum’s attempt at stopping me biting my nails.
    Now, at 57, during stressful times or watching an exciting action scene in a movie, I can still nibble subconsciously.
    I actually came to ‘like’ or maybe the term should be ‘accept’ the bitter Stop ‘n grow taste.
    Glad it’s not just me then 🙂

  2. Thanks for your comment. My nails are often admired by people who have zero idea I was ever a nail-biter. I recall being amazed at how quickly they want to heal.

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