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Can you hear the prostitutes sing?

I stopped biting my nails officially three years ago, but just like an alcoholic, there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about biting my nails. Sometimes I unconsciously put my fingers in my mouth and play the nail against the front of my teeth. It’s the nail biter equivalent of dry humping. Esteban is always reminding me to take my fingers out of my mouth, mostly because it’s sort of a disgusting thing. Sometimes, I catch myself miming the action of biting as well. My teeth are parted, my carefully groomed long fingernail poised in the space between, the guillotine hovering millimeters away from a severing snick. And I’m always picking at my hands, always pushing back the cuticles, playing with the sides of my nails. It drives me crazy if my nails are filed square. That wanton cleave of exposed nail, just aching to be torn away. It wants it. Oh, it wants it. It’s just asking for it.

When I was still ‘using’, to borrow an addiction term, I would sometimes bite my nails in my sleep. Those were always the worst, because I would use no caution, have no sense of self-preservation, no worry about an exposed nail bed. I would wake up from the pain, a red crescent of blood and virgin skin throbbing there.

I don’t know why I was able to quit chewing three years ago and then stayed on the wagon. A lot of it is due to the fact that my nail compulsion transferred from destruction to extreme makeover. The reason is simple’ if I have polish on my nails (and my god, are they polished’ a layer of base protector, two layers of OPI color and then Megashine 10 day topcoat) I can pick at that instead of chewing my nails. I don’t think it’s an oral fixation because I’m just as happy ripping them off as I am biting them. And spitting out a chunk of nail is just gross.

Anyway, my whole point of this is that my nails are currently painted a really lovely shade of light pink (I believe it’s My Italian Summer or some crazy OPI name like that) but at some point, the nail of my left thumb gained a little rip in it, right below the point where the nail stops being part of my hand, you know, the part that isn’t optional? And like a compulsive little freak, that was driving me completely insane. I started bending it a little, because was it really a rip? Or just a weak spot? No, definitely a little fissure of some kind. And knowing that it was so low on my nail that it would hurt like a mutha when I inevitably ripped it off putting on my shoe or flushing the toilet (both have happened in the last six months, in case anyone is doing a study of Long Fingernail Suicides And/Or Deaths By Misadventure) and I would undoubtedly be mad at myself for not having taken care of the situation in a sane and controlled environment (of my mouth). And then I think I had a black out or something, but the next thing I knew, I was sitting there with the long curve of ex-nail between my fingers and a bright spiky ray of pain screaming off my nail. Nothing I haven’t experienced before and phew, I was sort of glad when I got that whole ‘When Will It Break’ monkey off my back.

But then I couldn’t leave well enough alone. When you have long nails and then suddenly no longer have them, there is a little ridge of skin on top of your finger, sort of like little tracks for your nail to follow. They’re like ’56 Chevy tailfins on a ’05 Mustang. And as any obsessive compulsive nail biter will tell you, those hunks of skin are fair fucking game, my friend. Especially because they are not nails, persay, so it would be entirely legal to whack them off, especially since my thumb was now a wallflower amidst my nine lovely remaining nails. So the skin, so Dead Men Walking. I do not in any way feel bad about what I had to do. It was, in all actuality, a clear case of self-defense.

Which got a little out of hand.

So not only is my thumb nail ripped off, but now there’s a triangle of blood in the corner from where I ripped off what was clearly non-elective skin. And it is ow.

Ow that I can’t stop messing with.

Hey, do you think there are vegan nail biters?

I took my mom to see Les Miserablesat the performing arts center this week. I’ve seen it before, and it was one of the few shows coming to the area that I was remotely interested in. And also, I scored pretty good seats, which clinched the deal. My mom loves to go to the theatre with me, not so much the musicals we’re watching but rather the pretension factor. She loves to be able to tell her friends that her daughter brought her to yet another production and then rattle off the shows she’s seen so far. I, on the other hand, have a rather stereotypical fat girl love of musicals and have see more Andrew Lloyd Webber shows than I care to discuss. Les Miserables is probably in my top five musicals, because there’s lots of despair and high notes. I’m not found of happy musicals, so things like Rent and Phantom of the Opera easily beat out wankers like The King and I or The Lion King, anything with ‘King’ in it, actually. The entire damn thing is sung, which is always amazing to me. At some point, I sort of forget that they’re singing and I experience what I’m guessing opera theorists strive for.

It had snowed, however, quite a bit, and definitely not the weather to be scuffling around in my grown-up version of black Mary Janes. Actually, they’re surprisingly stable on ice but the style of the shoe itself does not offer my tender foot much protection from the elements, particularly when you are walking through fluffy snow that is six inches deep. I immediately planned to valet park, and then grimaced knowing that my mom would think I was being snooty and ‘putting on airs’. I wish my relatives would stop thinking that just because I’ve managed to make it to lower middle class. If that’s airs, then yeah, I have some airs.

My mom was a little giddy and in some ways, I felt like I was taking a child to the circus. I bought her a program and we sat in our wonderful seats and enjoyed a truly lovely performance. I had a bit of trepidation about watching this particular musical again, as the first time, I had to actually get up from my seat and stand at the back of the balcony so that my full-body shaking sobs wouldn’t disturb the other patrons. I had received a rather nasty set of looks from at least two older couples because it was in London and people simply do not lose their composure to that extent, especially not over something from Cameron MacIntosh, the man behind Oklafuckinghoma. But so it was. Like the rather disturbing episode when I first saw The English Patient, I just couldn’t help myself. But this time, I knew what was coming. I knew how it ended. As with all things, knowledge was power, and I could maintain control. I would survive, stay alive, and every other disco lyric that ever was.

This is not to say, however, that I didn’t go to the bathroom during the intermission and stuff a million tissues into my evening bag. Because while I may be intrepid, I am not stupid.

I did manage to keep it together, letting only a few ladylike tears and only the slightest quiver of my bottom lip. I did also hear a few hiccups from my mother, who is one of the most emotionally repressed people on the planet. And anonymous sobs from elsewhere in the audience. Apparently to make it through that show unscathed, you must be a robot. Or perhaps it is just kryptonite to anyone with a vagina. I don’t know. Someone should do a study.

However, at the end, we skirted out of our aisle as the cast was taking their third bows, hoping to avoid the massive rush of folks at the coat check and the valet stand. However, when I got to the coat check, I realized that I had no idea where my ticket was and had to step to the side and then disassemble my purse, digging through the effluvium of tissue like I was disemboweling a much loved stuffed animal. And by the time I found it, there were exactly 80 people in line waiting for the four valets to run out to the parking lot and fetch their cars. O.Henry strikes again. However, it did give me a chance to snap a photo of the Chihuly chandelier, and then, as most of the patrons were gone, leaving only the sad snaking valet line, we were treated to the inexplicable lobby music of the theme song from All in the Family and also Batman. Nothing is a Broadway musical buzzkill like listening to Edith Bunker, let me tell you.

But my ranking as second-favorite daughter is secure for at least another theatre season, so it was an evening well spent. And it strangely enough fulfilled the singing hooker theme that strings our theatre evenings together. I think I’m running out of musicals featuring prostitutes, though. Unless there’s a revival of Best Little Whorehouse scheduled to hit Northeastern Wisconsin.

Now off to clear the driveway. We got eight inches of snow, the plow has been through and we can’t get out of our driveway and get started on our To Do List until it gets cleared. What we lack in culture, we more than make up in thankless snow clearing. Go us.

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