Friday, May 28, 2010


Toenails are highly overrated. Perhaps they served more of a function back when we were tree climbing apes, back when our toes were longer and grabbed a branch for a "foothold" as we contemplated which branch to grab and swing out on high over the jungle floor. Our fingers and toes are very sensitive, for good reason. We process information through our fingertips, more today than ever before. Touch is our very sensitive fifth sense. Protecting our senstive toes and fingers as they explored the world made a lot of "sense" during the days of early evolution. But once we stood upright, did it make as much sense?

Elephants have toenails too, as do many other animals. Animal "nails" serve different functions for different species. Dogs use their nails to dig. Cats nails have evolved into claws, useful for climbing trees to escape predators. I am not sure of the purpose of the elephants' nails, as they certainly don't have predators (a simple stomp of the foot can squash a stalking lioness that gets too close to junior ), or a need for digging holes to bury prey. Perhaps toenails served some functional purpose back in the Ice Ages, who knows.

As for humans, if we wear sandals, toenails certainly provide some protection for the heavy of foot, if say, you are ballroom dancing with clod who is wearing hiking boots. But besides that, I cannot think of a useful purpose for the troublesome toenail. (Do you know how long it takes to get an appointment with a podistrist?) And so, when confronted with toenail "issues", I sided with the Queen of Hearts. "Off with their heads!" said I to my doctor. And, with the simple snip of a knife (and, I have to admit, six shots of anesthetic), she cut off my nail.

Not only do I not miss my toenail, but I am much happier without it. If there were a painless, FDA approved, insurance-paying method for removing toenails, toes without toenails could even become a trend, similar to the trend of partially bald men who shave their heads. But somehow, I do not think that the nail polish industry would be in favor of such a fashion statement.

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