Destinations Magazine

Girl Mechanic + Fancy Nail Polish = Fail

By Landfall @landfallvoyages

Sometimes, nerve damage is like a superpower. Most of my left side has pretty minimal sensation, which is all kinds of awesome when you’re fighting off super villain assassination squads or, you know, if you happen to be in mild mannered alter ego mode, elbow deep in a diesel engine, trying to reach that one impossible bolt. It’s useful then, too.

The downside to this kind of superpower is that I sometimes hurt myself and don’t realize it. Servicing the lower unit on an outboard the other day and I smacked my index finger hard enough to split it open. Not hard enough to actually damage myself, mind you, but just enough to annoyingly bleed all over the damn place. The first thought bubble that popped up next to my head was, “My nails!” Because, yes, even though I channel my inner diesel dyke on a regular basis, I do, on occasion, bust out with the girl thing.

For my husband’s birthday, I went all out. Sparkly black bad girl high heels? Check. Slinky tight dress that’s stretchy in all the right places? Check. Charcoal smoky eyes and lipstick? Yup. I even painted my fingernails. The fingernail in question, survived relatively unscathed. Yay!

I’m lucky if I can get even 24 hours out of nail paint. Even when I prep my nails like a boss. We’re talking crosshatch sanding with 220 grit wet-dry sandpaper and a thorough wipe down with acetone. Since I’ve never actually had a manicure and thus lack professional guidance, it’s entirely possible I’m fancy nailing it all wrong. Probably, there’s some feminine arcana involved that I don’t know about.

Nails are such a pain in the butt that I find myself reduced to the only color that makes any kind of sense for a girl mechanic in the high season. Black.  Why black? Five reasons. One for each finger:

Thing the First: No matter how hard you scrub, it’s nearly impossible to get those last little bits of grease out from under your fingernails. It’s like that shit is tattooed into your skin or something. This is what makes black the perfect color of nail polish. It camouflages the grease.

Thing the Second: After you’ve finished bleeding the fuel system on a Perkins 4-108, you can cover the inevitable chips in your manicure with a black Sharpie, in a pinch. And come on, show of hands, how many of us don’t have a black Sharpie in our tool box? Anybody? Right. Sweet, everyone’s covered.

Thing the Third: Shit goes with everything. Doesn’t matter what you’re wearing or even where you’re wearing it. Also looks good when you’re wearing nothing. Not that your special someone will pay any attention whatsoever to what your nails look like once those clothes come off. Promise.

Thing the Fourth: It’s cool. It’s edgy. Not that you care. Because, face it, if you seriously gave any fucks about whatever bullshit stereotype the world thinks you ought to shoehorn yourself into, you’d be doing other things. Perhaps, studying your 1952 Betty Crocker cookbook to find out how to be the perfect little woman. Seriously. I have that book. It’s a trip.

Thing the Fifth: If you go with the shiny patent leather look, your nails will help reflect light into those hard to see places. Really useful when you’re folded like an origami swan between the oil pan and the bilge. Note: pumice based hand cleaners will kill the shiny every time, no matter how careful you are.

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