I don’t know if it’s because most middle and above class women get their nails professionally done nowadays, but I’ve been having trouble finding emery boards. It’s not that I don’t eventually find them—but they used to be everywhere. At checkout counters. Even in the nail care section.

Maybe I’m too poor and/or afraid of infection to get my nails done in a salon, but I have my standards, and I can’t stand it if I see my nails in a weird shape. If my thumb starts to look like a trapezoid and I reach into my pocketbook and don’t pull out an emery board, I’m not happy. Or if the emery board has lost its grit, I curse that checkout counter with its array of lip balms.

The best emery boards—the ones that kept their abrasive finish forever—were always the advertisement giveaway ones. I still have one from my North Carolina gynecologist’s office. See, there are physicians who treat the whole person.

Even if you weren’t a good enough citizen to follow the campaign, it always paid to go vote to get the candidate emery boards. They were the best. A good emery board could get a Democrat elected in a rural small town or Roe v Wade overturned in Manhattan.

When is the best time to use an emery board? I worked in a place that had weekly safety meetings, and this one lady used the half hour to manicure her nails. While not on the level of, to quote Elvis Costello, “filing her nails while they’re dragging the lake,” I thought that was pretty rude. But I did admire her efficient use of time. I try to leave an emery board within easy reach of a long red light, or do a nail or two when I have a few random minutes. This avoids looking down on my hands and feeling inferior to those middle and above class women happily choosing among the lip balm.

That’s all I’m going to say. As I type this, my right index finger is looking a little dodecagonal.

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