I felt eight years old again this past weekend when I watched a woman in Walmart try to pick up small cans of cat food with her long fingernails. I strolled past her down the aisle, and hung around, watching her. The little Vickie child inside me wanted to ask her some questions, mainly, “What the hell is wrong with you?”
Why in the world do women grow their fingernails so long? What does it accomplish? This lady, from Salt Lake City, Utah, was on record with Guinness Book of World Records as having the longest fingernails. The longest, on her thumb, measured 2 feet and 11 inches. So much for picking your nose. Maybe that’s where the phrase, “picking your brain” came to be. Well, this lady was in a car accident where she was a passenger (thank God) and her fingernails were “damaged beyond repair.” (thank God) How in the world would you take care of yourself ? Like going to the bathroom? I bet no one ever asked her to spread suntan lotion on their back.
When I was little, I would walk across the street from my dad’s real estate office to a place called Mom’s Lunch. It was a diner and it’s where my love of hamburgers and french fries all began. Well, Liz was a waitress at Mom’s. She had very long fingernails. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her hands as she wiped down counters and laid down plates of food. In fact, I can’t really picture her face, but I can see her hands. She wore hot pink fingernail polish, and most of her fingers were clad in silver rings. She was styling in 1963.
I was sitting at the counter with Liz the day we found out John F. Kennedy died. I think I was 6 or 7. It was a Friday. I just got off the bus from the stupid private school I went to. I distinctly remember her putting her hands over her mouth, stunned by the news. All I could think about was, “She is going to poke her eyes out with those fingernails.”
I thought she probably had the longest fingernails in the world. But, then I saw a picture of a man in my mom’s National Enquirer. He had the longest fingernails in the world. The world. Why? It just didn’t make sense to me. I mean, I tried to be a pogo stick champion one summer. That was a feat. But, growing fingernails so long that you can’t wash your own hair was just something that made no sense to me. I came to the conclusion that they had to be retarded. (And that word wasn’t politically incorrect back then.)
So, here I am at Walmart, staring at a lady with long, lime green fingernails, trying to pick up cans of cat food. I smiled, because I felt like a kid again, sitting at Mom’s lunch, staring at Liz’s long fingernails. But, I had one question I really wanted to ask the fingernailed cat lady-
“How are you going to pop open those cans of cat food with those things?”