Dearly beloved, I have gathered you here to tell the terrifyingly, heart-wrenchingly, skin-crawlingly true story of the day my sweet, sweet sister ate a fingernail, my fingernail. Come with me, if you will, all the way back to that that fateful, surprise-filled day in July.
It is Monday and I am in San Francisco. I flew on the big steel bird all the way to fogtown, a place I still unknowingly call Sunny San Francisco. It is not sunny here, but oh it is to be even more cloudy and dreary in Suburb, Oklahoma.
Backstory: For years I’ve had the charming habit of forgetting to throw my fingernails away immediately after clipping them. This simple action tends to slip my mind, along with the middle names of significant others. The pile of clippings sits quietly on the coffee table, or desk corner, or languishes in the crease of a newspaper until I spot it a couple of days/weeks later and think to myself, “the socially appropriate thing to do here is to throw it away” and then throw it away. There are rumors that friends invited to social functions at my home have been forced to stare at piles of fingernail and/or toe trimmings, piles that are within broad view of God, myself, and the guests, while they interact with me. I deny these rumors.
But woe to my dear sister, my poor, sweet, innocent sister as she eats a sandwich on that Monday. She is famished and eats with gusto. Growing up in a family with four sturdy children, we learned to not let food linger on our plates lest it be snatched by another sibling. Wasted food is unheard of. As she wreaks the final justice on her sandwich, the moment of despair approaches silently, for a fingernail clipping lies on the very table where she eats, a keratin sliver I had charmingly and endearingly forgotten to remove before my departure to the West Coast.
The sandwich gone, my sister’s hunger not quite sated, she pokes about for remnants of her quickly-eaten lunch, checking for substantially sized crumbs and perhaps a scrap of ham that has fallen to the wayside.
But beware dear sister! Not everything is as it seems upon this lunch table! Danger prowls outside your door!
Alas, my warning goes unheard, typed months later in a blog post on the internet.
She picks up a crumb of notable size and unusual shape and eats it.
This, dear friends, is my fingernail.
Less than a second passes before she realizes her critical error, her tongue discerning the grossness and general inedibility of the fingernail, which used to be part of my very being. She spits it out, stunned, the now moist fingernail lying on the table as innocuous as a polka-dot.
How had it come to this? Who is to blame here? The absent-minded but generally lovable sister for leaving fingernail clippings out past their due? Or the blind hunger and gastro-greed that led her to clean the table of crumbs?
She asserts it is the former. I also assert it is the former, but I believe we have all learned a lesson here.
Be more careful of the crumbs you eat. You know not which body parts you might be ingesting.