For over two weeks I have been rooting around hopelessly in cupboards and drawers, searching for a nail clipper. It is a trivial accessory, unless you happen to need one. I knew that something had to be done when my daughter admonished me: “Stop biting your nails, Dad. It’s disgusting.”
That comment, together with fears that I was turning into a werewolf, motivated me to take a bus to a local beauty supplies shop. But instead of the usual tidy chromed nail clipper on a beaded chain, the only option available was a brutal tool half made of plastic which appeared to be designed to trim the hooves of horses. It must have been imported from America, where everything is bigger: cars, bellies, budget deficits.
This same super-sized nail clipper was also the only nail clipper available at Coop Forum in Vinsta, where I sometimes buy groceries. Whatever happened to the practical all-chrome nail clipper of my youth, which featured a nifty retractable file? Why have those conventional, practical clippers been replaced with these 8 cm long beasts, which can swallow slivers of unwanted nail in their hollow plastic bodies.
Imagine my joy when I discovered what appeared to be a proper nail-clipper at a well-stocked shop on the grounds of Karolinska Hospital in Huddinge. The low price of only 15 crowns and its “Ms Kitty” brand name should have set alarm bells ringing. But desperation causes one to ignore obvious warning signs.
After bringing my prize home, it quickly became obvious that I had purchased an inferior clipper, so weak that the top leaf which serves as a lever bends almost double when I try to use it. This petite-clipper might be useful for trimming the soft and paper-thin nails of 3-year-olds, but for an adult male, Ms. Kitty didn’t cut the mustard.
Faced with a series of setbacks and bad weather, one is tempted as a stranger in a strange land to see the vague outlines of yet another conspiracy. Why am I singled out by the Swedish tax authorities for relentless persecution? Why does the price of crude oil go down, but the price of petrol constantly go up? Why do so many Swedish men go bald at age 30 (it’s a secret chemical in the water)?
There must be a secret clipper cartel which has decided to increase profits by crowding out the conventional nail clipper with a new and more expensive product. Oil companies or asphalt contractors have in the past conspired to control the market, so why not try the same sort of trick with articles used for personal health care? Thoughts of Matrix-like simulated societies and deals made in smoke-filled rooms were flowing through my brain when I found myself outside a branch of the Åhlens department store in the newly remodeled Vällingby shopping center.
Anticipating disappointment yet again, I made my way through Åhlens’ racks of lipstick bullets, perfumes with seductive names in fancy bottles, and products which promised to make my tired hair lively, shiny, bright, flexible, strong and vibrant.
The SUV fingernail clipper was there as expected, but beside it on the same rack—Hallelujah! — was the much beloved standard chrome nail clipper of my youth, with no plastic parts. It doesn’t have a beaded chain, but it restores my faith in humanity.