Nail Biter.

Source: BBC

When I was a kid I was terrible about biting my nails. Maybe it had something to do with anxiety although I can’t remember what I had to be anxious about and now that I’m an adult and in a constant state of panic I never chew my nails. I do remember the endorphin rush that came when I ripped off a hangnail so hard with my teeth I drew blood around the edge of the cuticle and I should probably stop thinking about it or I’m liable to start again. What I also remember is that I wanted to stop chewing my nails. I wanted to let my nails grow long just to see how long they’d get. This may have been inspired by a woman I saw in a department store who had freakishly long talons that made it hard for her to use a cash register, but she was clearly proud of them and had painted them a nice shiny aubergine.

My real inspiration, though, was Shridhar Chillal, listed in the Guinness Book Of World Records for having the world’s longest fingernails. His level of dedication is staggering: he kept growing his fingernails for sixty-six years and they eventually reached a length of 29 feet, ten inches. He recently decided to cut them after, among other things, not getting a good night’s sleep for years. The other things are probably best left to the imagination. Or not imagined at all.

He was inspired by a teacher who accused him of never being committed to anything and I doubt that’s what his teacher had in mind but, hey, good for him. He’s really an inspiration to all of us: find one thing and stick with it.

Actually he also worked as a photographer and had a family which I guess proves it’s possible to multitask.

Amazingly I remember there were a few challengers, but when it came to holding the record Chillal always nailed it. Let’s give him a hand.

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  1. Jay


    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Yeah, the nails themselves are pretty disgusting, although when I think of what he had to do to accommodate his, um, hobby I start thinking that the nails themselves are the least disgusting part.

  2. BarbaraM

    Besides the ‘ewww’ factor, I find it more amazing that he had a wife and 2 children. I cut mine when they reach the 1/4″ length because I’m afraid of bending them backwards or breaking off at or beyond skin level. How he can just roll them up makes my skin crawl.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The way he could roll them up is pretty creepy although I think that was better than letting them just hang. He often wore a special glove. And, hey, Ang and Cheng, the original Siamese Twins, had individual wives and children.

  3. Tom

    I was challenged much the same way, and chose to use the word “Tom” as often as possible, perhaps to win the world record someday for the most uses of the word “Tom.” Tom would be proud.

    I have never been a nail-chewer. I know exactly when to cut them, too. When my fingernails are clicking the keys on my board instead of the tips of my fingers it annoys the living shit out of me. (Can I say “shit” here? If not I’ll say “annoys the living Tom out of me” and kill two Toms with one stone).

    My toenails are another matter. Someone has to point them out to me while I’m at a bar in flip flops (which I always am).

    Which reminds me: never get in a bar fight while Tom is there and expect back up. Nobody can fight in flip flops.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Tom is engaged in a very unusual challenge to say “Tom” as often as possible. Anyway I’ll never ask you to fight even if you’re not in flip flops. Always being in flip flops is pretty impressive and you just might earn a record for the most time spent in flip flops.
      Oh, and regarding saying “shit” or other swear words here, I’ll just say that we’re all adults so go nucking futz.

  4. Ann Koplow

    Strangely enough, I’ve recently decided to keep my nails really short. I would guess that Mr. Chillal never picked up the ukulele.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I suppose we all find ways to express ourselves, but you raise an interesting idea. Perhaps now that Mr. Chillal has cut his nails he could take up the ukulele.


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