“What about fingernails?” my friend Michael said to me over Skype this morning when I was asking him for a topic that straight guys might find of interest for a grooming column. It’s easy to get lost in the extremes of the beauty and grooming world when you work in it every day. It seems totally fair to tell people to laser off their back hair and spend $300 on an overnight moisture mask the same way a regular person might say, “I recommend the beet salad.” I needed a fresh perspective from someone who would give me an honest answer. Not only is Michael straight, he’s also an awesome journalist for Vice, and he’s currently stationed in Kosovo where a man’s grooming regime seems like it would be a little more real and “throwback”, given that you can’t even drink the water.
“We know this guy here – totally conservative” continued Michael. “But he has these disgusting nails, like, filed, classical guitar/’70s coke dealer style. All the girls talk about it, like, ‘What’s with Daniel’s nails?’ He has the organic, real, equivalent of Lee Press-Ons and nobody talks about it. Why does he have them? Who taught him this? They are like ‘80s girl nails – perfectly rounded.”
Our conversation turned into a fascinating interview about what “look” men should aspire to have when taking care of their nails. Here’s how it went down…
Me: How would you describe your own nail regime?
Michael: Infrequent and self-despising.
Q: What look are you going for?
A: Ordinary human being living in a perfect world where we didn’t need to deal with this dogsh*t.
Q: How would you describe you manicure routine?
A: A few, intermittent and nervous sessions that only occur on nights where my girlfriend says I remind her of a pterodactyl. I’d ask for a respite, some sweet molecular respite from the violence of growing (and I still secretly think pterodactyls are awesome).
Q: Would you ever get your nails buffed or polished professionally?
A: Yeah, but they couldn’t call it that. They’d have to use automotive terminology.
Q: What should men ask for when getting a professional manicure?
A: Reflections of their better selves upon my weary surfaces.
Q: What grosses you out most when you look at another man’s nails?
A: The idea that he has ambitions that involve them.
Q: Do you cut your nails in a specific shape?
A: I cut them in a utilitarian fashion – but, of course, nothing is free of aesthetics… So I cut them in the way that I imagine people who don’t care about such things to cut them. Might be accurate, might not be.
Q: What are the only tools you need to achieve your desired manicure?
A: Nail clippers. From the drugstore. I mean, what else could you need? Japanese knives? Blowtorches? Who are you, Prince? Calm down and be a normal living entity for f*ck’s sake.