Provocative opinions aired on the clothes line of life.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Silence is Golden


I'm not like most women my age. In fact, I would go as far to say, that I'm not like most women of any age. Sure, I have feminine interests. Just take a look at my header: pink, frilly, swirly calligraphy. See, I'm a woman. But I just don't share any of the typical common ground which other women seem to have with each other. I don't have any interest in diets or having my nails done or televised reality contests or celebrity gossip or babies or making gravy from scratch or discussing what age I'd like to get married.

(I don't enjoy reading romance novels by pre-menopausal Irish writers which are then adapted to simpering romantic comedies starring Hilary Swank either. So please, none of them for Christmas this year. Although after reading this I'm sure none of my female friends will want to talk to me again let alone buy me anything, and I'm already on thin ice in that department as it is).

Of course, there's nothing wrong with doing any of those aforementioned things and I'm in no way saying that they are the only things which women are interested in. It just means that when it comes to interacting with women I don't know, I rarely have anything to break the ice with. Which can be excruciatingly awkward.

This coupled with the fact that I'm a bit of an oxymoron anyway. In that I'm very social and enjoy going out, but I rarely make an effort with anyone new. As some of my now close friends will tell you: they did all the leg work. Which is very childish of me, I will concede and it's something I've recently started to change. As I've got older, I've realised that letting your guard down and being just that little bit friendly to people can be very rewarding.

What I'm yet to master though, is casual conversation with hairdressers. Cringe upon cringe. I suppose it's partly because I have little to no vested interest in the maintenance of my hair. It's been a weird amalgamation of dirty blonde and light brown for as long as I can remember, with its upkeep being typical of my general attitude: I don't care.

The bulk of the reason though is because as we've already established, I don't enjoy the company of strange women. And I particularly don't like said company in typically feminine surroundings. So naturally, anywhere beauty related is my idea of pure unadulterated hell. Row upon row of women bonding with each other over the current X-Factor contestants and fictional characters of Glee. Musing over their clever roller-derby pseudonyms and little nieces/nephews/godchildren who they just adore and can't wait to have of their own. Swooning over pictures of Robert Pattinson or the other Twilight one in the women's lifestyle magazine spread open before them.

Again, nothing wrong with any of these things, I just don't have any interest in them. Sometimes I wish I did, just so I wouldn't feel so isolated in these situations. And feigning interest in them just doesn't work on account of my innate sarcastic nature. I enjoy it, but as I've discovered first hand, some women get terribly over-sensitive when it comes to flippant remarks.

But like I've said, I do possess some feminine interests. For example, I have an unhealthy obsession with Sex and the City. But I'm a deeply pretentious person, and if someone were to start discussing the films with me (which I pretend don't exist) I would scoff at them. And Lord help them if they confessed to not knowing it originated from a book, which they haven't read. Oh, would they be in for a berating. So, as you can see I'm a difficult person who takes herself far too seriously and therefore it's much easier for me to remain silent. And smile.

But therein lies a problem. Hairdressers won't let you be silent. They probe you for information about yourself. Because they've very nice people and are genuinely at ease with chatting about every day topics. I hate them for this. I'm very socially awkward. I prefer them to come to my house - I have my bearings in my own territory. I can make them a cup of tea in a mug which reads 'fuck tea where's the fucking caffeine?' and enjoy it. I'm sick.

But sometimes I haven't been able to keep them confined to my kitchen, and have been forced to venture outside of my comfort zone. Which is an ordeal right from the initial phone call needed to make the appointment. I always opt for the cut and blow-dry. Never anything else. No hair dye please. It's extortionate and they always try to bully you into having a lighter colour. What do you mean you don't think the shade of wet straw I always go for isn't very becoming? I like it. It looks natural. Do you know what doesn't look natural? Having a hairstyle which is significantly longer on one side than it is on the other. But who I am to judge? Then they want to know who I'm requesting to perform the haircut. Um, I don't know, all hairdressers are called Tracey right? Sorry, that's unfair. Sometimes they're called Sharon. Or Tina. Yeah, I'm going to stop now.

And when you get there, in a timely fashion for the slot which you have reserved might I add, they keep you waiting for around twenty minutes. This is the time in which I pretend that I'm an anthropologist. I'm only here to study these people. Did you know if you close your eyes you can almost make yourself believe that the incessant noise is being emitted by hens? Because that's what women (myself included), sound like when they're around each other. Shrill clucking sounds likened to that of your average farmyard animal. They don't even have to be talking about the same thing. It's fascinating.

So eventually you're summoned to have your scalp massaged by a youth on work experience, who always manages to fasten the cape (don't even get me started on the fucking cape), too tightly while catching a stray hair in the Velcro. Thus exposing the little tattoo on the back of my neck, which prompts them to go into unnecessary detail about the swirls they're having done on the bottom of their back next week. Of course, I'm not listening, I'm just thinking over and over, why do I even need this cape? It's perfectly ridiculous. I don't mind if little snippets of stray hairs get on my clothes, it's my hair after all. Seriously, every time. That's all I think about. Oh and this: I don't care if everyone else is wearing it too, I can't see my arms, this isn't natural.

I'm sometimes so caught up in this perpetual anguish, that I don't have any recollection of the hair washing coming to an end and being escorted from one piece of wacky Ikea decor to the next. And so then you sit and wait some more. Resisting the urge to spin around on the chair while trying to avoid your reflection, which in my case is dripping rats tails and smudged eyeliner. Great for the ego. So, I do, what everyone does when they don't know what to do with themselves in public: lamely turn my fixation to my phone. Some people choose to re-read old text messages, others abuse the Facebook check in feature. I on the other hand, opt for scrolling through my contact list and silently curse every single name.

Then finally the moment arrives and the very nice lady is snipping away at my hair, after adjusting the seat to a ludicrously high level, with the cape sometimes getting caught in one of the wheels. (Fucking cape). She chats away about herself and her day with a breezy demeanour which I'm more than happy to listen to. I try to treat it like I would a sport: spectating never participating. But then she eventually attempts to engage me in conversation. Uh oh. All of my anticipated dread has been leading up to this moment: 

  • "Going out the weekend then?" 
Well, it's Tuesday, so I don't really know. I suppose I might..I do like to leave the house occasionally. Oh Christ, just say yes Sam.


  • "Where you going then? I'm going to Revs. LOVE it there. Do you like it there?"
I suppose this isn't the best time to divulge that I harbour secret fantasies of blowing that place up. 

"No, I don't really go there much."

Shit, now I have to go into detail about these fictional plans. Where can I hypothetically go, so she'll stop asking questions?

"I'm going to a gig."

  • "Ooooh, I love gigs. I'm going to see Pink next year, do you like Pink?"
Fuck my life. No I don't like Pink. In fact to say I don't like her would be an understatement so vast it would swallow every abandoned Chinese infant girl throughout history. 

"Um. No."

Smooth. Although probably safer to be concise.

  • "I think she's amaaaaaaaazing!!"
Yeah, I'm just going to make a point of fiddling with the cape now.

  • "Especially when she comes down into the crowd on one of them things."
    (She gestures wildly in my face with two fingers imitating what I can only assume are Pinks kicking legs).

At this point I'm at a loss. As I've already established, I'm not a great conversationalist at the best of times. So, I ask you: what is the correct conversational protocol when someone you don't know sticks their waggling fingers in your face because they don't know what the word trapeze is?

(I'm not insinuating that this is representative of all hairdressers, this is just a snippet of what has happened to me).

There must be other women out there like me who:
  1. Fucking hate getting their hair cut.
  2. Are socially awkward on an insane level.
  3. Can't talk to other women.
  4. Don't want to talk to other women even if they could.
  5. Don't go to Vodka Revolution on the weekend.
  6. Have a mortal fear of hairdressing capes.

I refuse to believe I'm the only one. Your support would be appreciated. As would any awkward conversational encounters of your own. Comment away.