For the Want of a Nail

August 20, 2010

That when you yank your towel off the back of the bathroom door, the peg it sits upon comes with it and plummets to the floor at light speed. The trajectory is such that it doesn’t nestle in the soft mat, but instead wails upon the top of your big toe, cracking the nail and immediately causing stars of pain and vocal spurts of horror.

But the worst part isn’t immediate. It’s when, years later – after having had that nail surgically removed never to grow back – when you’re hiking in the Virginia woods and you hear a rattlesnake. Extensive training has allowed you to possess the reflexes of that same snake that’s about to strike. So you snap alert and cunningly avoid the venomous creature’s first stab at you.

Unfortunately, your prior injury slows you down just a tiny bit and the next strike from the snake hits its mark, sinking fangs into your flesh and sending poison coursing through your veins. To add insult to injury – literally – the rattler bit went right through where your big toenail once resided. And had it been in place, the fangs would have likely glanced off harmlessly. This occurs to you as you slip into a coma and die, the result of a loose towel peg on the back of a bathroom door.