7/52: How many clipping actions do you require to complete one fingernail-clipping session?

February 19, 2017

If you cut your nail with your teeth on a regular basis, you should stop reading this right now. And probably go see a doctor and/or dentist.

Things that we have to do every once in a while for no good reason both fascinate and annoy the hell out of me. Getting a haircut is one of those things. Some people see it as an opportunity to renew - or recreate - their self-identity whenever they get a haircut, I see it as a waste of time and money because I want to get the exact same damn haircut every time, and if my head wasn't so god-awfully shaped, I would just buzz it with a number 1 all the way around myself. Honestly, if my head was an error surface, they would probably need to find new gradient descent algorithms because it would be deemed a pathological surface. But yo, free million dollar idea: a box that you can just stick your head in and it gives you any hair style you want. We don't even have to start fancy, I'll be satisfied with anything that a hair clipper could do.

But this week's enlightenment session is not about getting a haircut, it's about clipping my nails. Fingernails seem to be the thing least deserving of growth. Seriously. I can understand if it's something that breaks and needs replacing often, like skin. But nails literally never get damaged, UNLESS of course, it is too long. Does anyone break a finger nail doing anything the day after cutting them? I didn't think so.

"But Richard," you might say, "long nails are sometimes helpful, like when you need to scratch something off or open something that you need to wedge your nails into." First of all: don't. Breaking a nail trying to open one of those snap caps (like on ketchup bottles) is just the worst, and then you have some human compost to go with your eggs. Second of all, then why cut it at all? That's a very unreliable tool if it is only available to use half the time you need it, by choice. But actually though, this is the kind of shit that legitimizes when someone says: "sorry, I don't have finger nails", when they really mean to say "I really don't want to help you open that thing."

But now not only do you have a tool that's half reliable, you have to buy a second tool that is used to manage it. I think the modern day nail clipper, at first glance, is a beauty of engineering. That's one of those things that feels like it has reached the pinnacle of its evolutionary process: it lasts basically a life time and nothing on it does not directly serve the purpose that it was designed fo- I'm sorry, what? The hole in the back? You mean, you don't tie a string around your nail clipper and secure it on your belt loop so you can clip your nails at ALL possible times? Then you, my friend, are missing out on life. Don't get mad at the guy clipping his toe nails on the subway. BE the guy clipping toe nails on the subway. 

The other thing that's really fascinating about nail clippers is the fact that it's basically one size fits all, where it really has no business trying to be so. The average American household probably has at least 3 differently sized fingernail owners, and each of them has (at least) 3 differently sized finger nails. How did one go about designing the curvature on that thing? Did someone conduct a focus group and decide on an average fingernail size? Or are we all participating in the world's longest-running and biggest Cinderella story? When the one true love of the fingernail-clipping prince clips her nails, it fits just right - ALL 5 of her fingers (holy shit!). Actually, sometimes I try to one-shot my index, middle, and ring finger nails, and when that happens, it feels magical. But when it doesn't, I'm reminded of the fact that there is no prince waiting for me in a distant land, and that not only am I not gifted with the perfectly shaped head, I also don't have 5 perfect fingers of equal radius of curvature.

Addendum: this weekly blog post thing basically serves as a reminder that I can write about anything.