Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Decide Never to Leave the House.

I’ve often been told that I can change the atmosphere in a room just by walking in to it – the manner in which people tell me this suggests to me that I rarely change it for the better – but this is just ridiculous.

I’m sitting on a bench in a barber-shop (not a hairdressers) waiting to have my hair cut; a necessary evil I have yet to find any way of avoiding.

The barber and his lady colleague are having quite the chuckle, loudly joking with each other and their respective customers. The barber himself is shouting at passers-by on the street asking if they still believe in Santa Claus, his colleague is singing to the unbearably up-beat music blaring from the stereo.

It seems this will be more of a chore than usual.

I’m in no mood for spontaneous jollity with strangers, especially whilst being touched in a ridiculously over-familiar manner by someone I’ve not even met.

The lady barber is – without consent – giving her young customer a bizarre mullet-type thing clipped around the edges that makes the boy resemble a foolish badger. I am hoping her colleague is finished first.

My God they’re loud. These really are a couple of happy cunts.

She finishes off, gives the boy a lollipop and announces that she is off to get a coffee. Thank Christ.

In a moment or two the barber is also finished with his customer and cheerily bids him farewell. I take my seat. There is now only the two of us in the shop. The compact disc in the stereo comes to an end. It suddenly seems very quiet.

Barber: [Needlessly jovial] So! What’s it to be.

I give my standard ‘amusing’ response that if he were to make my hair longer and untidier that would be ideal.

Barber: HAHAHAHAHA! Just a bit of a tidy-up then!

Me: Please.

He starts snipping away. I pretend I am somewhere else.

Barber: So! [Here it comes, I think.] All ready for Christmas then?

I’m going to have to embark on a short period of fake cheerfulness with this fool aren’t I? I really haven’t the energy.

Me: No. I haven’t done a thing. I’ve been moving house this week so I’ve had other things on my mind.

Idiot. IDIOT, I think to myself. You’ve just given him some PERSONAL INFORMATION! He’s fucking got you now. It’s going to be ‘amusing house-move anecdotes’ a-go-go from now on you prick.

He pauses for a minute and looks at me in the mirror.

Barber: [Quiet now] Yeah. I know what you mean. Had a lot on my mind myself this week.

He silently snips away some more, with a troubled expression on his face.

Barber: It’s been the worst week of my life to be honest. My wife had a miscarriage.

It’s silent for some time.

Me: [Helpfully] Oh.

Barber: It was early on but …. Our first you know. I was all excited about being a Dad, just getting my head round it when ….. Don’t suppose you ever really get over …. you know.

Me: [Still helpful] Mmm.

I suppose I could have come up with something supportive, some learnt experience that I could have passed-on but really, I’ve come for a haircut and on top of that he’s really making a meal of trimming the hair on and in my ears – something no-one has yet been insensitive enough to do. He’ll be offering to dye my grey pubes next.

Having wordlessly completed his task, I settle-up with this gentleman.

It is for many an unpleasant time of year and he’s obviously not had the best of it anyway.

I give him a tip of fifty pence.


Blogger Ellie said...

Is it always the same? Haircut receivers don't want to jibberjabber, but haircut givers fill in a void with words?

I do feel bad for the guy kinda like I felt bad for George Bush when I watched 'W'.

You went in for a haircut. Not to be chipper. And not to lend an ear. It might sound harsh, but shit, we all have our problems.

8:48 am  
Blogger Z said...

You did the right thing - quite unintentionally, I realise, and I do sympathise. It happens quite spontaneously once in a while and you only realise later how splendidly you could have made things worse. Anyway, you let him feel able to say it and not pretend for a few minutes. And you didn't get sympathetic which would have been pretty meaningless. But nor did you try to jolly him out of it. A tip of 50p hit it quite well too.

2:33 pm  
Blogger Tired Dad said...

E: What you said. I'm just unhappy about the immediate switch of mood to melancholy and introspection I seem to inspire in people these days. Oh well. At least it shut him up.

Z: You're right about the 'unintentional' part. Seems I'm doing 'good things' all over the place without really meaning to. Grr.

6:18 pm  
Anonymous jonathan said...

Hell- I didn't see that coming.

I have a similar aversion to jovial barbers, which is of course unfortunate as there are really no other sort. Although your post makes me think maybe they're just doing it becuase it is what's expected, and many of them may be harbouring deep sadnesses underneath.

And hear was me about to leave some glib comment about the unasked-for mullet.

9:53 pm  
Blogger Tired Dad said...

J: Hello. Nor did I - was bracing myself for the usual patter regarding 'holidays' and the like. However, does anyone really 'expect' or indeed 'want' such nonsense?

The mullet looked absurd, the kid was almost in tears and his Mam looked non-too-pleased by the way.

10:13 pm  
Blogger punxxi said...

child as hedgehog,effing lovely...was it an early present from the hair cutter? shoulda cut her, as well!

3:31 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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3:50 pm  
Blogger Tired Dad said...

P: Ok then.

Anon: Wow. You're, like, craazeee. Cock.

4:51 pm  
Blogger Four Dinners said...

difference statprobe stereo diagrammes newcastle yogmaya gateway boaventura pharmatrade interacting cooled
semelokertes marchimundui

I can't possibly better that.

So I won't.

12:47 am  
Blogger Tired Dad said...

Right then.

9:04 am  
Blogger Debster said...

My husband always used to say shorter when asked what style.

As to festivities, you could always say you are muslim or pagan or something.

2:47 pm  
Blogger Tired Dad said...

It's not exactly a conversation-stopper so I doubt I'll be using it.

4:05 pm  
Blogger Four Dinners said...

Happy thingy old bean.

And a peaceful New Year 'n all.



10:41 pm  
Blogger Tired Dad said...

Yeah you too.

2:40 pm  
Blogger Debster said...

Say you are a tax inspector if you want a conversation stopper.

11:29 pm  
Blogger Area Trace No Search said...

A method I still haven't been brave enough to use (although my brother has started to and says it works wonders) is to keep plug in earphones in your ears.

He actually listens to his Walkman, but I reckon that
bit would be optional.

11:55 pm  
Blogger Tired Dad said...

Debs: I'l try but ... The people I deal with will probably have many questions to ask. 'Avoidance' is a buzz-word at the minute. And haven't you better things to do tonight?

Trace: Works very well on a bus/tube/train - no use at all at the barbers. Especially when trimming one's ear-hair without invite.

2:41 am  
Blogger Sewmouse said...

Jovial Hairstylist: So, all ready for the holidays?

Sewmouse: What holidays?

JH: Oh, Christmas, New Years...

SM: Huh?

Deliberately obtuse works for me.

6:52 pm  
Blogger Tired Dad said...

I think I'll just grow it. Forever.

1:41 pm  

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