Generally, I am more decisive than not. I do not look to foist my opinions upon people, nor do I especially want to coerce them into following a path I dictate. But when faced with an abundance of indecisiveness swirling around like a drunken Tasmanian Devil I have no trouble stepping in and making decisions, fallout be damned. (Ha! Like there is ever fallout.) This ability to pick a direction, state and act upon it is not something I often think about, much like footwear. Frankly, my interest in this sort of self-examination is about the same as my interest in the Boer Wars or candle making. Still, my capacity to make clear, quick decisions lurks in the shadows, like Philip Marlowe or that creepy guy with bad breath from 11th Street. When the moment comes, when the floundering process of settling upon a course of action needs a strong nudge (okay, shove) it emerges fully formed, not unlike a Cicada Swarmageddon. Which makes it all the more puzzling that after all these years I still fumble miserably when it comes to telling a barber what the hell to do with my hair.
I have been going solo to get my hair cut for decades. And for decades the same question has always greeted me when I settled into that naugahyde chair: “What do you want?” I am long past the days of deflecting this serious question from a serious barber with glib responses like “winning the lottery” or “Christy Turlington” or my favorite, “a little less pressure from you.” That tact got old, especially when it was universally met by blank stares, not hearty guffaws. However, in my defense studies have shown people wielding scissors and straight blades are not the best audience for a dash of witty wordplay. So with that unfavorable first impression lingering in the air like a stink bomb I retreated from my unappreciated humor and mumbled something about “less bushy” and “presentable” while haphazardly moving my hand about the atmosphere of my head, swooping and gliding with Tourettes of the Arm. Somehow the message (well, a message) was communicated and ten minutes later my hair would be less bushy and more presentable.
If bitching can be considered accurate most folks are not fans of their hair. No matter how good it may look there always lives in our petty heart a longing to have something other than what we have. You could be blessed with gorgeous straight hair, but if someone points this out you counter that it hangs like limp spaghetti and there is nothing you can do with it. If your locks are bouncy and curly you say no matter what you do it always bunches up and there is nothing you can do with it. If your head follicles are blissfully wavy you are quick to note the whole mess is wholly unmanageable – and there is nothing you can do with it.
The impression is these types of complaints are more likely to come from women than men and that may be true. Yet this is not because men are more satisfied with what is going on up there. It is only because men hold these sorts of personal observations deep inside lest they appear unmanly. But the truth is bad hair bothers men as much as women. What differs is their solution. Rather than wrestle with a new approach every week men do what men do: Kill it. If you thought male pattern baldness was the primary reason guys shave their head, think again, kitten.
If only I had that killer instinct. Instead I continue to mumble and fling my hand about. In a way I am doing the barbering professional a tremendous public service. My indecisiveness is actually a damn generous gift. I offer them a full head of hair, unkempt to boot, on which to experiment. All this is followed by an exchange of money from my pocket to theirs. You would think this amazing artistic and financial philanthropy would inspire some reciprocal kindness. Instead it is met with a few short strokes across the shoulders with a brush whose history I purposely never consider. This must change.
Next time I will come prepared with a new plan. None of this comedic breaking of the ice. No, I will wait until the haircut is finished and sharp weapons are out of hand. At that precise moment I will pepper my groomer with irresistibly hilarious observations. Throwing in comedy at the end of a decidedly unfunny shared experience will catch them off guard. What choice will they have but to laugh? My awkward initial indecision will be forgotten, erased from history like the Anasazi, and I will linger in their memory as that jocular fellow with the gracious manner and moldable hair. Yes, this is what I will do and it will be spectacular. Hey, look at me. I made a decision.
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