The (nasty) advantages of biting your fingernails

I haven’t bitten my fingernails in a week! I no longer have to have my five-year-old open things for me. I can pick pennies off of the ground. I can open a soda. I can open the recharging dongle thing on the bottom of my phone. Oh, and I don’t gross people out anymore. Let’s go for week 2!

I have bitten my nails for decades, and I sadly passed the trait to my older son. My dad is a nail-biter as well. But there’s hope for my younger son, as he and my wife do not bite their nails. I used to only abstain if I was on a camping or fishing trip, because that’s just nasty to bite. And when I’d get home from said trip, my nails would be so long and inviting. I had this terrible word I used then. I would “harvest” my nails and relish it and oh man that is gross to say out loud.

The only thing worse than having classical guitar fingernails or drug fingernails, is nail-biter fingernails.

People would give me a hard time, saying I’m just giving myself germs. I countered with, “I’m actually toughening up my immune system by accidentally biting my nails after touching the bathroom door handle.”

A nail-biter is always feeling their fingernails with their thumbs, searching for irregularities to punish with their teeth. Then the pointer-finger is used to assess the thumbs in turn. Biting them down so far they bleed, then hurt when you wash your hands or type. I can’t figure out if this is a stress-reliever or stress-causer. But this act is always going in the background, just like that Facebook app you have on your phone, always draining the battery without you thinking about it.

Nail-biters, in my experience, tend to be great talkers. The kind who are waiting for you to finish so they can tell their maybe related story. I am guilty of this. We also drink a lot of coffee or chew gum a lot.

There are advantages, however few. Nail-biters can spit really far, take down a pack of sunflower seeds like big leaguer, and tear open almost any package with their mouth. In other words, we’d be the zombies you’d want to avoid the most. Like I said, “few” advantages.

I was a nail-biter in training from day one. I had eight pacifiers as a kid. I called them wa-wa’s and put them on all of my fingers and went to town on each of them in turn. I have never heard of another child having so many pacifiers. Or relishing in them so much. I mean, my kids loved their pacifiers. My older son called them “Pie-yez” and my younger son called them “Night nights.” I could rarely call mine their name because they were always in my mouth.

Anyhow, I’m just admitting all of these things out loud so I will stay strong and not bite. You have permission to smack my hand out of my mouth at any time. I mean that, so please do it. It’s kind of fun actually.

But then you will hear the awful admission of the nail biter “I’ll stop! I’ll stop! I just have to finish this one. It’s sticking up and scratching me.” Just smack me harder.



  1. You write truths. As I was reading this post I was feeling along my nails for irregularities. I am a combo bite/tearer. Since my nails are soft and weak-hearted, they are perfect for destruction right after a long bath or shower. It’s an amazing feeling. That being said, I too am trying to be better about demolishing my nails this week! I’ve made them shiny with nail polish in the hopes I will be deterred. Godspeed to you.

  2. I know! It’s so hard! When I was in high school I tried putting this weird apple bitter nail polish on that was supposed to curb the biting because of the bad taste, but I just gnawed it all off, terrible taste and all. Nail-biting is the exact opposite of delayed gratification.

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