I Grew Out My Fingernails For the First Time in 15 Years, How Long Do You Keep Your Nails?

It's really hard to text on my Dumb Phone with long nails. I keeep mMaking amnoying ttypos.
Publish date:
August 1, 2013

When I was a kid I used to beg my mom for "Lee Press On Nails."

I longed for those long red talons that would make my little 9-year-old hands look like that of a Disney villain. Every time I saw that commercial where the woman would fan her fingers with her long nails in front of the camera, I would practice for the day that my mom wouldn't corner me in the bathroom and force me to cut my nails down to a "safe" length. Her words, not mine.

When on my tenth birthday I finally got a box of pink fingernails -- which in retrospect is a rather morbid gift, think about it, A BOX OF FINGERNAILS -- I squealed with delight. Before school started that day, I carefully matched each nail to my own tiny fingers (I've always had deceptively narrow fingers, like "mouse hands" a friend once said), peeled back 10 double stick glue stickers, and affixed each Press On Nail to my own nails.

I fanned my fingers.

I posed in front of the mirror with my hands on my face. I practiced gracefully pointing.

Even then I knew I looked kind of weird, like some sort of tiny, Asian, Norma Desmond, in lacy hot pink tights, but nonetheless I loved it. I felt like a LADY.

My fixation with fingernails would continue into my teens. Again, I begged my mom to let me get acrylic nails like all the cool girls had (this was Texas in the 90's), but just the mention of it would send her into a rage that I still think was disproportionate to the topic of fingernails.


Whatevs, I thought, I'd have sexy hands for a few weeks.

When in the first few weeks of my freshman year of high school, Caren Pantredge, the pretty girl with the long beachy hair and even longer acrylic nails, asked me to go with her to get her nails done, I was SO EXCITED. This was my key to teenage acceptance. My high school popularity was going to be sealed, one nail at a time.

My fatal error? Casually mentioning to my mom that "Caren and I are going to get acrylics after school on Friday."

OH HELL NO. Mom freaked. I freaked. I screamed and yelled and she just SHUT ME DOWN. Again, let's remember this was about fingernails.

What she didn't understand at the time, and I think I barely understood myself, was that these were more than FINGERNAILS. They were a sign that I had moved beyond my awkward middle school years and was now embarking on a bright future as WOMAN with long, graceful, WOMAN hands. The other girls would forever see me as the girl with the puffy mullet hair-cut and the drugstore sample foundation (my mom made best friends with the Walgreen's cosmetics lady and she would give us sample tubes of makeup she didn't need) that was two shades too light, unless I SPENT TWO HOURS WITH CAREN PANTREDGE GETTING ACRYLIC GLUED TO MY FNGERS.

But my mom wouldn't budge. So I took matters into my own hands.

I did my own acrylic nails.

Have any of y'all ever attempted this?

Ugh. I couldn't really master all that powder and cement and filing, so halfway through I just stuck the little tips on, filed them like a lumberjack and put three thick coats of nail polish over them. Ta-da!

As I fanned my hands as I'd done so many years ago, I was acutely aware that I did not have the long graceful nails of a fancy lady, but rather the lumpy, crooked nails of a nervous teenager who "stuck this here fingernail on top of this here fingernail and it puts the paint on over all them fingernails."

But they were on, and they were long, and they were acrylic. I'd won.

Needless to say Caren was unimpressed and because of my fingernails failings, we did not become best friends and I did not nestle my way into the womb of the popular crowd.

That, and I was a hopeless, arty-farty nerd, who was really much happier and better off with the other hopeless, arty-farty nerds. So everyone was happy in the end, and I ripped those damn fingernails off after a week. (I feel obligated to note that in taking off one of the nails, I got a little impatient and crazy with acetone and did indeed rip off one of my fingernails. You won that round, Mother.)

Ever since the Acrylic Nail Debacle of 1996, I've been a short, no-nonsense fingernail woman. I clip my fingernails when I'm stuck in traffic, and I barely have any of that little white half-moon at the top of my fingers.

That is until a few weeks ago, when I got a bug up my butt and decided to see if I could grow my nails out.

This was A) a challenge to see if I could resist chewing the shit out of my fingers, and B) to see if the fist full of vitamins I take every night were doing something besides making me regular.

And you know what? It worked.

Here I type, the delightful "tick, tick, tick" of my nails against the computer keys. I'm amazed at how strong they are, I've only chipped one so far in this experiment. As I look at my hands on the keyboard I imagine that this is how Jessica Fletcher from "Murder, She Wrote" looked while she typed. I'm kind of entranced.

I actually thought they'd be in my way more, but I'm finding that I actually mostly like my long nails. Everything is more symphonic. Pointing at things is fun.

Okay, there are drawbacks and because of these I'm probably going to lose it, and chop them down by the weekend. Among said drawbacks:

  1. It's really hard to text on my Dumb Phone with long nails. I keeep mMaking amnoying ttypos.
  2. It's significantly more difficult (and painful) to pick your nose
  3. I've accidentally done the "nails on a chalkboard" thing just doing normal things like unlocking my front door or making dinner, and my flesh just CRAWLS when it happens.
  4. I live in fear of tearing off one of my fingernails. Everyday when I head out of the house, I think, "This will be the day".
  5. Everything -- food, skin, earwax, soap, lotion -- gets stuck under them. I'm perpetually picking stuff out from under my nails.
  6. I've basically armed myself with weapons in which I could potentially pick my fingers down to bloody little flesh nuggets. Amazingly I have not. Is this perhaps a way of stopping my skin picking?

Oh well, for now I'm enjoying my long nails. I'm going to tap my nails impatiently like a movie star, and fan my hands like a lady.

And somewhere in Texas, my mother is cringing.

Are you a long nails kind of gal? Did you or do you wear fake nails? How long have you worn them? Do you ever find they get in your way? How do you deal? Any fake nail horror stories involving pus or fungus?