Breaking the world’s dumbest habit


Remember in school when there was always that week or two when it seemed like the whole curriculum shifted to an anti-smoking campaign? It seemed like there was always one central message:

The best way to not get hooked is to never start.

Parents, children, whoever is reading, let me tell you, the same could be said about biting your nails.

If you’re a parent, the first time you see your child biting his or her nails, wrap their fingers in aluminum foil, reinforce the foil with two-sided tape, douse them in extreme hot sauce and then dump a vacuum bag over them. Hopefully that’ll deter your son or daughter from biting their nails.

Trust me. Once you or they start, trying to stop is infuriating. After reading a humor column online two weeks ago about someone who has been biting his fingernails all his life (and I’m in the same boat), I decided I wanted to stop.

And stopping would’ve been a lot easier if I never did start. At this moment my fingernails are like an all-you-can-eat buffet and I’m a starving man locked out of the restaurant. They’re taunting me. Begging me to bite juuuuuust a little.

“How about a tiny nibble on the side? Just the pinky — it’s growing the longest exponentially. It could use a slight trim.”

Gaaaahhhh! Shut up, nails! How are you talking anyways?

I’ve nearly bitten them since giving up on the biting habit. I’ve put them near or in my mouth, but refuse to bite down and break the nail, knowing that’ll be the end of my noble effort. I’ve used the tail of a pen cap to scrape under my nails, trying to separate the newly grown part of my nail from the finger skin beneath it, trying to ease the discomfort.

What’s worse is that compared to normal non-biters, my fingernails are still probably comically short. Not biting them for a couple of weeks shouldn’t be an ordeal. It shouldn’t drive me toward the brink of bitterness, and thinking about NOT biting them shouldn’t consume my thoughts like it has.

It has been tough so far, and it’ll probably only get tougher, but it’s time that I break this stupid habit. Not to be gross (which means I’m going to be), but there have been times when I’ve put my hands in places and thought, “Boy, I better wash my hands, just in case I start biting my nails later,” only to find myself biting my nails later sans a good hand-washing.


“Too late,” I’d say to myself. “The saliva probably kills all the disgusting things that I touched anyways, right?”

It’s so hard to stop. How could something as gross as a fingernail be so desirable? Isn’t there a patch or a lozenge or something that I can use to quit?

Jeez, what a dumb habit. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go clip my nails. Not that they need it, but if there is no nail, there’s nothing to bite.


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