common threads #13: hairstyles

Posted: May 24, 2013 in Humorous Bits
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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. 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.
Learn more about The Common Threads Project.

  1. sparklebumps says:

    “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.” Weird, I am completely indecisive and most certainly foist my opinions on everyone. Sadly, every time I come out of the hairdresser’s, I wish I had I hat.


  2. Kayjai says:

    Hair…what is it good for? To wreak havoc and mounds of frustration upon those of us cursed enough to have to deal with it on a daily basis. Women are forced to colour it, perm it, flat iron it…all in efforts to bend it to our will. And it never does. Ugh. If I was a guy, I would so do what Hubby does, take a shaver to it. There. Done.


  3. BrainRants says:

    I razor-shave my dome myself, so indecision would waste a lot of water and shaving cream on my part. So after all this time at the same barber, you can’t just say, “The usual” ? One of the bennies of being a man is never having to modify your hairstyle. Unless you have a mullet.


  4. It comforts me somewhat to learn that men are anxious about getting their hair cut too. I think you’re right that it’s mostly chicks with this anxiety, but it makes me feel a little better to know guys do the same thing. The only guy I ever discussed this with is Mr. Weebles, who buzzes his hair because he’s mostly bald, but also because he never really liked his hair anyway.


    • John says:

      Yes, it is all about anxiety. No, wait. It is all about indecision. Well, which is it? Anxiety or indecision? Indecision or anxiety? Anxiety? Indecision? Jeez, now my blood pressure has risen cause I can’t make up my mind.


  5. “Tourettes of the arm.” I just snorted my coffee through my nose.
    Hey, I got curious and so had to check, and guess what??? The Flowbee is still being manufactured! Remember the Flowbee? …capable of performing “hundreds of precision layered haircuts”…according to Wikipedia.
    I know an old gal who has one. If you pay attention to who she keeps company with [and their hair] you can see that she enjoys practicing with it. Think of the fun you could have!
    Great read, thank you-


    • John says:

      Has your nose recovered?


      • More or less! Although I’ll admit I almost did it again when I just reread your post.
        My own hair has just emerged from some sort of depression state; a deep, dark and isolating mourning of sorts.
        Having found the perfect hair doctor, and then becoming dependant upon her, I found myself unable to adjust when she suddenly then moved away….
        Oh, the terror of breaking in a new one. I’ll admit, after an awkward near six months of neglect [and I am normally an every six to eight week trim kind of girl], my hair became desperate enough to make think of my Flowbee-wielding old lady friend. Just once or twice.
        Out of sheer desperation I hit a walk-in salon and approached a perfect stranger, and when asked “What do you want?” I gave them my famous dog-on-a-freeway look. Panic. Just. Absolute. Panic. I finally choked out something involving the word “Presentable.” LOL. And then gathered my wits and had her tell ME what I needed. Once I knew that she knew what she was looking at and who, and would not attempt anything crazy, I submitted.
        Lucky me…She received a fat tip from me, while I resisted the urge to question what she was doing working in a “place like that.” She was fabulous, and didn’t need hand holding or monitering. I will definitely see her again.
        Mission accomplished! Thank God…..


  6. rangewriter says:

    You lucky man! You have a head of hair to ponder. I am happy for you. You don’t mention that you’ve ever had a bad haircut, despite your inability to articulate your special “look.” I suspect that you are the envy of most men in your circle of shaved heads and the object of lip-licking admiration among the females in said circle.

    As a teenager I had foot-stomping, brush-throwing-across-the-room, foul-mouthed fits with my hair because it would NOT do a perfect flip or pageboy for longer than 2 seconds, after which it would fall limply about my ears and eyes. Later in life, I gave up and let my hair win. It has rewarded me by turning white and completely changing texture and character.. I let my barber/stylist have his way with it. Who am I to tell him what to do with that unruly mess? Now I get compliments on it


  7. floridaborne says:

    I stopped going to a salon and opted for a barber. That was at least 1 1/2 decades ago. The barber did well for many years–then it happened. 4 years ago I asked him to cut 1 inch off my hair and I have to say I was very explicit: 1 inch. With 2 swipes of the scissors, I lost 9 inches of hair, cut to shoulder length before I could blink! Generally, I would have given someone hell for doing that and marched out without paying. But the fact he was 80-something and had barely made it out of heart surgery alive was reason enough to hand over the $10 and vow never to walk through the door again. Next time, when I get the courage to have it cut, I’ll ask my husband to do it. I know it’s hard to believe, but I’m married to one of the few men in the world who listens..


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