A real nail biter.

Somehow, much of life these days is about living on the edge, or experiencing a real nail biter. It could mean opening the mail box to see what scary bills are there, or being stuck in traffic when you are already running late. It might even mean watching a newly-licensed teenager pull out of the driveway for the first time. That is a sure nail biter.
The fact is, I’ve always literally been a nail biter, without traffic, bills or before and after teenage drivers. I have yet to study the medical literature much beyond the headlines. Maybe I don’t want to know about this affliction or, for that matter, any others.
To set the record straight, no, I have never been tempted to chew my toenails.
The first thing you see in the official chewing nails site is something about an “anxiety disorder,” syndrome, or something about hags that stress over looking in mirrors. Then there are phrases to describe hags who have always been addicted to ingesting perfectly good finger nails. There are photographs of a nail biter that look suspiciously like mine.
I think it all started as a child when I was denied too many candy canes one Christmas and felt deprived and neglected. From there it spiraled into full blown child abuse because my cousin got more candy canes, or something like that. Or maybe my anxiety had something to do with the potty training tactics of yore where we were all mortified into submission by giving up diapers before walking. About that time, mothers bragged about early teeth, early walking, and early memorization of Dr. Spock. By then, I was using my early teeth to chew on my toe, er I mean fingernails.
Funny, however, a friend who also memorized Dr. Spock said that her mother was grilled about why she still drank from a bottle at one year. Schooop! Out came the bottle in an instant, but her form of anxiety has never been about her fingernails, just too many cookies.
The next warning about nail biting is the appearance factor, like in addition to a stack of chins and sagging body parts, jagged nails are also unsightly. Well, I can recover from that one fairly easily because I am also unimpressed with elaborate artwork in all rainbow colors on Guinness Book of Records longest nails. I have seen everything from Art Deco to chess boards, all painted with great care onto fingernail weaponry.
I can count the number of times that I have arrested my habit to grow some respectable nails. I think it coincided with times when some relative or two worried about my entire future if I continued biting my nails. I might not become a hand model or, perish the thought, might not have a collection of polish around to keep my brain stimulated. So when I did force myself into recovery, I noticed right away that I couldn’t play the piano or type at the keyboard without clacking myself to death.
My personal vote in favor of the nail biting is that it satisfies a deep desire to look stupid in public. Or that nail tissue promises to recover some brain cells lost during the ’60s, which I am supposed to remember but don’t. It might mean that I have a genetic propensity to carry butterflies in my brain. Or it might simply mean that old habits die hard and anxiety is as good a reason to look stupid.
The real cause of nail biting, however, is those scary bills, running late in traffic and the next generation of teenage drivers. Those are the real nail biters in life.