Ye Redeem What is Wanting in Beauty by Pulchritude of Soul
Now Playing: Vanemega's Mixtape
I'm not that cool with the social graces. I'm fairly confident, yeah, but somehow, small talk and tipping the hair dresser defeats me every time.
I mean, what's with the tipping? Do men tip their barbers? Do you tip your hairdresser? The person who washes your hair? The receptionist who's holding your jacket to ransom? There's a social contract I really am not equal to. I'm comfortable with tipping waiters, taxi drivers, and a trip to America did eventually get me used to tipping bar staff, though it grated on my Ebeneezer soul. But tipping hairdressers? And - worse - the shampoo monkey? Nah, I can't cope with that.
I pay by plastic, so I never have denominations of tippable coins and notes, much less differing amounts to recognise each of the girlie wankers' differing level of input in making me look like an over primped badger. It's all I can do to get my lazy arse anywhere within thirty minutes of an appointed time - any appointed time - there's not a noodle's chance I'd achieve the self organisation required to accrue cash in correct denominations, too.
And when do you do it? When do you hand over the filthy lucre? Before you crouch at excruciating angles before their porcelain altar of pain and scalp-scalding ? While still blinded from the chemicals they squirted over half your face while chatting up the bloke next to you? After the snippage? (Jesus, I can't remember what shampoo monkey looked like by then - I was staring at the ceiling cobweb in a frozen rictus trying not to acknowledge the shooting pain in my neck, not eyeballing the menial staff so I'd recognise them later when they aren't upside down or shooting things at my head.)
I suppose I could tip the receptionist, when I pay - but hell, they didn't do anything. There's the moment at the end of the blow dry, when lipgloss starlet abstractedly flashes a smeared and hairy mirror at speed behind you so you can inspect the now visible boil on your nape. Well,I'm too busy wondering how many brain cells it took them to forget I wear specs and can see fuck all of their meisterwerk, and counting the seconds till I can get round the corner from the salon and ruffle it.
To compensate for not tipping, ever, I have to rotate my custom amongst three different hair stylists (interspersed with the inevitable attacks of self loathing with the nail scissors), in the hopes that no-one recognises me enough to hold my stingy trade against me, or worse, to ask me questions about my day job.
Today, I narrowly escaped having to 'chat' about why in hell I stayed in alone on New Year's Eve to the shampoo monkey giving me an otherwise near orgasmically relaxing shampoo (hey, lighten up, it's been a while). At the last minute, I remembered to panickily deflect using the askpointlessquestions technique, and was able to manage a burst of abruptly spaced interrogations in order to dodge further intrusion as to my plans for Friday night.
I'm the silent, thunderous looking bugger in the hair salon - listen, it's bad enough that you wet my head, draped me in a flatteringly vomit coloured cape then sat me for ninety minutes in front of a full length mirror surrounded by thousand watt searchlights while you wriggle your twenty something permatanned belly piercing about and throw ridiculously affected and time consuming shapes with scissors. Expecting me to be unscathed by the experience to the extent that I will tell you, a total stranger, about the fucking holiday I didn't have last year, or the one I'm not fucking planning for next year - that's just cruel.
I used to really be sullen as fuck at the hairdresser's - it's one of the ancestral trades learnt at my granny's knee, so I'm familiar enough with the mystical delights of beer shampoo and a vented blow drier not to respect what's being done to my head, because, given enough mirrors, and probably an extra limb extruding from my spine, I can do it myself. My customary hairdresser banter tended to run a varied line ranging wildly from "it's just shit, innit", through "that's not short enough, do it again", to an eloquent "no."
At least, until my first East End haircut. Tower Hamlets being somewhat rough, the salon round the corner generally holds obvious signs of anything from a recent scuffle to a violent brawl. On one particular occasion, I sat in my winching chair, and noticed that several of the sinks had recently been ripped forcefully from the walls and one of the mirrors was cracked just below head height. Regardless, I wittily quipped "no" at camp hairdresser, as he proceeded to dye a lump of my fringe bright yellow.
A frizzyhaired frowsy looking woman came in forty minutes early for her cut, and asked if she could be seen earlier. Camp 'stylist' politely explained to 'Modom' that this would not be possible. Frizzyhair woman pulled an annoyed face, then bumbled off to do some shopping till she could be seen.
As she exited the 'salon', camp stylist's face metamorphosed so rapidly he could well have been possessed by the evil spirit of Bob Monkhouse.
"Bitch!" he hissed, swooping right down to my ear - "she's going to get a shit haircut now."
With that he minced off to find another pint of hairspray. This one line was all it took to get me chittering like a squirrel denied its nuts. By the time I paid up, not only did I know about his last three holidays in Ibiza, I'd cooed and burbled like a retard over photos of his entire extended family, in a paroxysm of socially discomfited horror about what he might do to my head. (At the minimum, I was experiencing unprompted mental visions of myself wearing a Chelsea smile.)