So what's up with the long pinkie nails?

Not a matter of world-shattering importance. Still…

I’ve been wondering for some time now why some men keep their pinkie nails (one or both) extra-long. I’ve observed this phenomenon with Asian, black, Latino, and Russian-born men. Their ages run the gamut from teens-20s to 50s-60s. Their other fingers sport nails of more or less normal length (NOMOLNL).

I was thinking this is some sort of cultural thing; but the interesting thing is it would have to be several separate cultural things, based on the ethnicities above. Any explanations out there?


I always thought it was a drug thing. They use the nail to scoop up the goods and snort it.
Maybe now its just a trend for people to copy and try to look:cool:

I’m a woman, and I have long pinky nails… for the simple reason that I don’t bother to try to keep my nails the same length. Most of the other nails break or tear but the pinky isn’t used that much and so that nail grows much longer.

Ya know, the first time I saw it I thought of this too - but many of the gentlemen I’ve observed were not the coke-snortin’ type. I just don’t believe this theory explains the majority.

One of them is a friend of the family, so I know for sure it’s not a drug thing (but I haven’t asked him directly about the nail because he would be embarrassed at such a personal question).

So - other thoughts?

I doubt anyone who would have a long pinkie nail in the fashion you describe, nor would that individual be on the internet or even know about a board like this.

Don’t worry, it’s probably harmless like the Big Gold Crown or Gold Fist “air fresheners” that were prominent in “urban” vehicles back in the mid-nineties.

OpalCat, I hear ya - I have the same thing happen with my own nails, only it’s the pinkie and ring finger ones that seem to grow faster or break less than the others.

The difference between this, and the original phenom. described, is that the gents’ non-pinkie nails were pretty much short (man-short, not woman-short), and most often evenly groomed. The pinkies appeared purposely groomed long - not neglected long…

heptapod, methinks you underestimate the awesome power of the SDMB. Not to mention the gents in question.

It’s OK, I’ve got time, I’ll wait…

::taps fingers on desk, humming softly::

I’ll second the drug thing, only it’s not for coke, but for splitting blunt papers.

My 76 year old uncle keeps one pinkie nail long and sharpened. He uses it to open envelopes. I’m fairly confident that it’s not for drug use.

My friend has it and he always hint that it is for Sexual purposes…eep;)

Nevermind nailed it.The first time I noticed it was in the 70’s and my frend (who was into that whole disco-cocaine stuff as portrayed in Annie Hall) told me about it.

They’d use the nail to scoop from the community bag and to push it up their noses.

25 years later it’s evolved into some sort of fashion?statement to mean I’m hip-I guess.

Similar trends emerge all the time for people to imagine they look bad/hip wearing earrings (men)fatigues,droopy clothes,etc.

These people always strike me as insecure,and sometimes almost cartoonish.

I have heard two different explanations.

First, I was told by a person with a longer pinky nail and thumbnail that he used them much the same way as a roach clip, i.e. to hold the very last bit of a marijuana cigarette without burning his fingers.

Alternately, long fingernails were considered a status symbol by Chinese mandarins. This could perhaps have filtered down in some odd way to modern times.

Mr. has long pinkie nails. He said that they are just useful. Not for scooping up coke, but for things like opening letters, picking his nose…

I’ve had it several times, but just for the stupid reason that I skip around when cutting my nails, and it’s easy to overlook the pinky.

I vaguely recall from a tour of Versailles I took that servants of some French king (it was either Louis XIV or Louis XVI) kept their pinky nails long to scratch on the door of his bedchamber, as he apparently thought that knocking was an odious/vulgar/lower-class noise.

I’ve always assumed it was for ear-cleaning.

Trucido is right that long nails were traditionally a status symbol in China, but it would apply to all the nails, not just one. In fact, lower-class Chinese men still often have long nails - you’re supposed to be impressed because it shows they don’t do manual work.

Bingo! That’s why I have them. Great for opening shrink wrap, especially cigarette packages, ear wax clean-out, etc.

I thought it was a sign one was a pimp?

I bloody well hope not!!

Maybe its just me, but damn, that seems really impractical. Wouldn’t you injure yourself or something?


I don’t want to meet the guy who uses it for picking his nose, then wants to use it for a " sexual purpose" as Cleric suggests.

What ever the reason, I think you shouldn’t touch it:D

Practical purposes did come to mind…

I just have a hard time wrapping my brain around the idea of growing yourself a specialized implement wherewith to pick your nose or pull wax outta your ear. Trained from an early age to keep that sort of activity strictly private, I find it a bit strange that some folks would openly proclaim their ear/nose/etc. picking proclivities… Still, it makse sense in a way. And in some cultures it’s perfectly acceptable, as I recall.

Cleric, I have no idea to what you are referring, specifically. It sounds a little dangerous and possibly painful, whatever it is…