I’ve long been aware of his incompetence, but he has two crucial qualities that keep me going back:
- Proximity: His shop is no more than a five-minute walk away.
- Taciturnity: He makes no effort at insipid chitchat.
Since a visit to the ladyfriend was looming, and my features would no longer be transmitted through a forgiving 320 x 240 resolution at 8 frames per second, I thought it prudent to exercise my oft-neglected sense of vanity and consult a coiffeur who would not succumb to their cigarette-craving midway through cutting my hair and abort the mission.
I found myself at my brother’s barber, and predictably enough, I was fending off wave after wave of attempted conversations, taking care to be as thrifty with the syllables as possible lest I provide a hook for cross examination.
So, are you working today?
Isn’t the weather just dire?
Looking forward to the holidays?
Are you spending it with your family?
Are you doing anything special?
Amazingly enough, my responses were enough to prompt stories that went nowhere, as she regaled me about driving a car on a windy road, or her sister’s plans for the New Year, or her mother’s affinity for Christmas music. Listening to her inane nattering was made all the more arduous due to the effort spent trying to control my facial muscles from revealing my revulsion to the entire undertaking.
“Lipstick on a pig” was the thought that prevailed as this creature with heavy make-up and absurdly coloured hair hovered over me in the mirror, her many undulating protuberances wobbling up against me as the razor droned and rattled in her hand.
I became desolate. Is this all necessary? Must these hairdressers fill their days with the exchange of banal pleasantries and the transmission of dull tales featuring vapid cretins and their esoteric undertakings? Just because the process of removing a man’s hair isn’t particularly stimulating doesn’t mean that I should shoulder the burden through your painful attempts at affability.
Don’t get me wrong - I’m as sociable as the next person (some may even consider me gregarious), but shouldn’t it be a staple of good manners to minimise the boring exposition as much as possible when dealing with people who aren’t your friends? Why must the ritual of a visit to the hairdresser’s involve an empty conversation between begrudging participants?
There’s a dignity in cutting a man’s hair that the superficial simplicity of the task belies. Enjoy it quietly.