Once when my dad was in grade school one of his teachers inflicted the curriculum on her pupils of inspecting their cuticles once a week. She made them let her dig them back toward the base of their nails with a miniature shovel designed for the purpose, until the little white crescents there were rawly and painfully exposed. She only mutilated their fingers thusly, not their toes, luckily, but I wouldn’t put it past her if she’d ever thought to, but she prob’ly never did is all, is what I’m guessing. (Never trust a teacher ‘til you CAN’T see the whites of their nails.) I am surprised she never drilled them in the task of doing HER nails for HER. I’ll bet she would’ve been thrilled if she had lived to see the day, as I have, when the Walmart beauty salon near here ran a special on pedicures, that saw a line of chairs of middle-aged gals like her being ministered obsequiously to by a line of kneeling teen-aged boys. If she had lived that long, that much bliss would almost certainly have killed her, ‘cause it can you know, so I’m glad that she died prob’ly several decades earlier anyway.
That was the teacher that made them all choose Native American names to go by when they learned about the settlers, and expanding the frontier. So Dad chose to be nicknamed “Deer Legs”, which made everybody laugh at him, though no one could tell him why, and he went to his old age death still wondering why, as well as why all of the health vigilantism was needed against so desperately pacific an encroacher as the harmless cuticle. I’ll go to mine not ever knowing either, I suppose.
I do know that one should never trim one’s nails indoors, as the clippings inevitably will go flying everywhere, and making the worst kind of mess. Well, perhaps not the VERY worst, but still they do fly wild some. Once I knew a gal, a nurses’ aide, she was cutting off the toenails of a man so old he couldn’t reach or even see so far to do the job himself. And, well, my friend did not remember not to jabber the whole time, so one of the clippings landed down her throat where it lodged for quite a little while and made her choke.
Also one should not let one’s nails fall off accidentally while indoors, either, as that happened to me once, one of my fingernails, I think it was my thumbnail actually, my left one (but it might’ve been my right one, I have to be honest. Hard to tell, my memory cuts out on me now and again, it does). Anyway, it snagged off when it bumped against the table edge while I was at a party at a friend’s. And when it fell off it landed underneath the table. That a lot of the guests were sitting around while talking volubly. Well, politeness overcame me, and not wanting to be a bad guest by littering our friend’s home with my nasty unretrieved personal biologic waste, I ducked my head under the table searching for the nail. As luck would have it this caught the attention of our host, who grilled me as to my intentions underneath his tablecloth. A profound silence fell as apparently the company at large were also keen to know an explanation for my quest and posture. There was nothing for it but to abandon the errant shred and sit up and confess. Whereupon I was laughed at mercilessly by all, I’m not sure why, but the likelihood is it was because they were all jealous that their hygiene standards were all so much less responsible than mine.
Of course, since you’ll want to go outdoors for all your manicuring needs, it’s wise to settle somewhere in the first place where the outdoors cannot be gainsaid, for more of a year-round basis than is reasonable here. I mean not cutting your nails for a good nine months each year is a bit long for best comfort. (It’s not advisable to bathe here either, even indoors, even with hot water, except in summer, ‘cause it’s just too cold until evaporation is complete after the toweling off.)
Hygiene can be dangerous in any locality, and at any ambition level, but especially when carried to excessive lengths for purposes of beauty and/or romance. So I really must caution in the strongest terms against grooming for mere vanity. I’m sure we’ve all got ancestors or close associates who, like my husband’s old great grandpa, was paring his toenails one day so they’d fit inside his ranch boots, when he nicked soft tissue, took gangrene, and lost his leg to amputation. Then there is the temptation of keeping constantly clipped out of consideration (or sheer dumb hope) for one’s partner during sex. This is understandably alluring in prevention of unsightly ankle lacerations, or the always problematic clawmarks down the spine. But, just keep your socks on, socks are quite protective in the nuptial lair (or its equivalent), I’ve learned to my relief. Not sure what can be done about the fingernailmarks, as one would surely not want to wear mittens during intimacy. But, some overzealous nailbiting can be chanced in the interests of companionship, no doubt; and I am assured by one who has reason to know, that the everpresent scratches on my back are without fail caused by my haircomb having way too sharp of teeth as I yank it through my way too long of hair.
Another trend in beauty procedures—besides that of available male pedicure slaves—is the brisk trade in eyelash extractions. I’m not kidding, I saw a sign outside a beauty shop here recently, that promised they could provide said service for their customers. As mentioned before, I will go to my grave, etcetera and etcetera.
Lest you think I am unduly harsh in my suspicions re the motivations, impulsiveness, and thoughtless risky mania of all hygienists, I will leave you with one example I have heard of that was truly noble. I think it took place in Devon, in the 1800’s sometime. A case of persistent public exfoliation, but for the greater good, wherein a schoolmaster with a condition known as “chalky gout”, his school being too underfunded to afford any chalkboard chalk, he simply rubbed the pads of his fingertips against the blackboard and the tissues sloughing off there formed the letters and the numbers necessary to instruction. Hopefully he kept his nails down to the quick—otherwise the scratching noises would’ve been distracting from the children learning a whole lot.