By Trina Machacek

Do you know what carpenters say when you go to pound in a nail and it bends over before you get it all the way pounded in? Snidely you might hear, “Hey what’s the matter, is the wind blowing?” Meaning the wind blew the nail over. That has got to be some wind! I should know I never pound in a nail without the wind blowing. No matter the size of the nail. A little finishing nail up to a big ole 60 penny ring shank spike. They will not stay up and straight. I usually put the blame on my hammer! Ya, ya it’s the hammers fault.

Now that I have your attention, a hammering nail as a hammering nail is not the nail I am here to nail down and talk about today. The front-runners of the topic today are finger and toe nails. Specifically silly painful things that occur with nails. Like a hang-nail.

Just as you slip your hand in your glove a hang-nail is grabbed by the softness of the fur lining. You had no idea you had a hang-nail hiding alongside your middle finger, but there it is. It’s bent awkwardly, sticking out, and beads of sweat pop out on your forehead because, dang it, it hurts. Now I am full grown and a hang nail is such a tiny thing, but as you sit there reading this you can recall the pain of our last hang-nail can’t you?

So of course we need to take the next step in this notorious hang-nail problem. How to deal with it and move on with your day. My other half pulls out a hang-nail. Just pinch it between two fingers and snaps it out, by the root. I just can’t do that anymore. I can grab it and pull on it, but as soon as my brain screams, “Yeouch” I wimp out and just can’t do it. Just as a side note I also was never able to pull out a loose tooth when I was a tot. I remember a tooth or two that got so loose I could turn them all the way around in my gums. But to take that last step to get that sucker out and under my pillow? I just couldn’t. I waited until they fell out all by themselves. But I have spun off this bed of nails…

There have been a few times that while I was not near a nail clipper I did pull out hang-nails. But as I said earlier, I can’t do it anymore. Yanking the little slivers out usually makes your nail bleed and it’s sore for a few days—very annoying. So now I carry a nail clipper with me. It’s in my pocket right along with my ever near and dear to my heart, short piece of soap stone. Ya just never know when you will need a piece of soap stone to write on metal with.

So back to this hang-nail dilemma. Why do we get occasional visits from these pain in the finger friends? Are there more of them in the winter or summer? What causes them? What can we do to never have one again? Let me give you the short answer to these burning questions. Ready? Here I go…

First answer, because. Second answer, let’s not forget spring and fall. Third answer, because we have fingernails. Lastly, nothing. Bet you thought I would go on and on and become the guru of hang-nails. Not!

I don’t know any more about this phenomenon than the next guy. I do, however know this, you don’t know you have one until it gets caught on something, it hurts, pulling it out by the roots is not a good idea and if you cut it be sure to cut it short enough as to “nip it in the bud” or it will come back with a vengeance.

Seems that nails can become a source of contention no matter what you do. Let them grow and you will inevitably break one. Cut them short and you immediately need one to pick off a sticker or scrape something off the kitchen table after a dinner of chili and cheese. (Yuck!) Get them all dolled up with pretty colors and decorations and the first thing you know you’re out digging in the dirt pulling weeds in the garden, and zip, there goes fifty bucks! Leave ‘em be and you up and get a hang-nail. Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to get outta bed. Well that may be going a bit too far. Even for me!

Oh and while we are having this discussion about nails let’s not overlook an ingrown toe nail. Again, Yeouch!

Trina Machacek lives in Eureka, Nevada. Share with her at Really!