I got a haircut a few days ago, and it wasn’t exactly a fun experience.
First off, my hairstylist was an Asian woman. I’ve got no problem with that – in fact, my favorite hair-cutterer there is an older Asian lady – but this woman was new, and there was an unfortunate language barrier that hampered communication between us. Oh, she tried to talk to me. And I attempted to respond. But it quickly became evident that I wasn’t exactly following along when she asked me a question, and instead of asking her to repeat herself again – as I’d done several times already – I took a chance and responded, “yes.”
“Yes?” she replied, pausing with shears dangling in mid-air. “What you mean, yes?”
Oh, crap. I wondered what I had just agreed to. Was there still a way to extricate myself from the situation with a bit of tact, rather than admit that I hadn’t understood a word she’d said and had responded merely out of politeness?
“Yes to your question,” I tried, pleased with my quick thinking. I might not have caught what she’d said, but I could tell it had been a question of some sort. I figured I had a 50-50 shot at being right, and “yes” seemed just as good as “no.” Better, even. It’s more positive and uplifting.
“I ask if you use gel, mousse or hairspray?” she said.
“Right,” I answered, nodding forcefully, as if to suggest conviction with my answer. “I do, sometimes.”
“Which you use?” she said, glaring at me now.
“Depends on the situation and what the weather is like outside.”
I wasn’t trying to be difficult, or a smart ass. I swear. But once you’ve committed to an answer, you pretty much have to ride it out, and I was trying hard to pretend like I’d been in complete control of the conversation when, in fact, it had slipped out of my grasp two minutes after I sat down in the chair. But the stylist was equally clever, because a minute later she said, “Looks like you getting some gray!”
That I understood. WTF? Say it ain’t so!!!
“Just a little bit,” she said in mock reassurance. “It just starting. I call it special hair.”
Well you know what, lady? I don’t call it “special” hair. I call it the first inevitable sign of my own looming mortality. And I am not pleased that you had to go and point it out!
The NBC comedy Community coined a term for this several episodes back. An insult disguised as a compliment is a complisult. This hair stylist had complisulted me!!
I mean, fine. I’d seen it coming, a few stray grays around the temples. I was aghast the first time I noticed, and wasted no time in eliminating the offensive intruder from my head. But he returned, with a reinforcement or two. Once they’ve established a stronghold, their forward progress can’t be halted. It’s all downhill from there.
Driving home, I tried to think of the positives. AARP cards promising a gateway to all sorts of senior discounts. No waiting for a table in restaurants when dinnertime is at 4 PM. Medicare. Angela Lansbury. I was just beginning to relish the idea of being an “elder statesman” of sorts when I remembered that I’m still only 41 years old.
And, despite a few gray hairs, a fairly youthful looking 41, at that. Or so I’m told. Actually, once last year when I got a haircut, the stylist guessed that I was in my early 30s. There was no language barrier that day, no sirree. I didn’t have to pretend to understand her and she didn’t have to turn around and insult me while throwing in the word “special” to pretend that the insult was really a compliment. Life was simpler back then.
Whatever the case, I say, bring on the gray. Guys can get away with it. We look “distinguished.” I’ve seen how the women drool over George Clooney. I’d welcome a little slobbering action over here.
This whole incident is just another embarrassing moment, kind of like the “snow bunny” waitress fiasco from January. I had a reader comment on an embarrassing incident that had befallen her, and that got me to thinking about my Most Embarrassing Moment Ever. It was the early 90s, and I was working in retail while attending college. I was a greeter/cashier/peon for Brookstone, a Sharper Image clone that specializes in gadgets (actually, Sharper Image closed all their stores years ago, but Brookstone lives on – ha-ha, suck it, Sharper Image!). Brookstone was a great place to work for a 21-year-old; my coworkers and I had a lot of fun there, like the time I placed a mirror on my boss’s desk with a razor blade and a line of flour. He was not amused, but we were!
Anyway. This girl worked there, and she was gorgeous. She was like a model. Actually, she was a model. Literally – she did some modeling on the side. And she was Swedish, or Austrian. Something exotic. Long blonde hair, sexy accent. Let’s just say I really liked working with her. One evening I ducked into the stock room to use the bathroom. It was small, and contained a single toilet and sink. It was busy that night, and I was in a hurry, so for some reason that escapes me to this day I didn’t bother locking the door. Figured I’d be in and out in sixty seconds. So I’m standing there, in the middle of taking a leak, and in walks Gorgeous Swedish Model. She backed out, apologizing profusely, while I turned beet red. We never discussed this afterwards, but maybe that’s because I was never able to look her in the eye again.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
- Six Brands That Don’t Mean What They Used To (woot.com)