Once, I could tear sticky tape with my teeth and break thread with them when stitching. Today, the front teeth I once applied to tape and thread no longer meet for the purpose.
My bottom teeth resemble tumbling tombstones in an abandoned graveyard. Today’s orthodontists would probably remove a couple in childhood, but back in my schooldays they didn’t take out healthy teeth. Chances were, I would lose a few anyway at some point. One upper tooth that stuck out was restrained with a brace, but that was it.
One of my wisdom teeth never came through completely. When I mentioned it to my dentist, he sucked his teeth and said it was an awkward one. If he thought it was a tricky one, I wasn’t going to push the point. The gaps between teeth at gum level due to gum erosion now require something resembling a bottle brush to keep them clean and infection-free, and although recent x-rays show that two upper teeth no longer have roots, the other teeth seem to be holding them in place.
I still have them, so – as Gran used to say – mustn’t grumble.
My mother bought me clear nail varnish at an early age in an attempt to stop me biting my nails. I was hooked.
Through my secondary school years my nails were permanently painted. I would remove the varnish on Friday mornings to apply fresh colour during double Latin in the afternoon at the back of the class. (My hands went into my pockets when passing the staff room, where Miss Blossom, the games mistress, would threaten varnished nails with acetone from the science labs.)
On leaving school I was gainfully employed in the public library, where I found that varnish quickly wore off my nail ends when searching for TLIs (Tickets Lost in Issue) through wooden trays of loan records in the Brown issue system (that’s book-card-in-customer-ticket, for those who haven’t read my post Olden days in UK Public Libraries #3). Married life brought washing up which nail varnish rarely survived for long. It was now only applied on the verge of going out and didn’t survive long after the event.
I’ve always had strong nails, but for the last decade, one nail has been splitting at the end (third finger on the right hand, if you’re interested). In the past couple of months the one on the little finger next to it has been showing signs of doing the same. I suspect this may be some kind of nutrient deficiency, but why it should affect only those fingers defeats my nutritional knowledge. (If you know, please share in the comments.)
I read somewhere once that fingernails and hair keep growing after death…
Like most other teenagers in the 1960s (regardless of gender) my hair reached my shoulders. Fed up with washing it in a bucket when on a camping holiday, I cut it with nail scissors in my twenties. (This was married life BC – Before Children – when we didn’t squander money on campsites with facilities.)
I’d been told by a hairdresser that my hair was thick (as in a lot of hairs) but fine (meaning thin). In my fifties, when I tried growing it again it hung limp and lifeless instead of lush and lustrous, so I had it cropped again. Not with nail scissors this time; I could, by then, afford a hairdresser as it was AD – After Departure of my adult children. (Although they tend to return at intervals.)
It isn’t only my head that is less hirsute than before. For some time now I have not needed to shave my legs when they appear in the summer. As if to make up for this, hair now grows vigorously in places where it isn’t wanted. I have moles on my arms and legs and a couple on my face, but some are so pale as to be hardly noticeable (I like to think). At least, I hadn’t taken much notice of them until they sprouted hairs.
When my children were still at home, I used to encourage their suspicion that I had witchy tendencies. (How else would I have known when they were doing things they shouldn’t?) I needed no witches’ marks in the form of hair growing from moles on my chin to lend authenticity, and I certainly don’t want them now!
Serves me right, I suppose, for claiming the kudos without serving the apprenticeship.