I’m sure you must have noticed, but I’m going to point it out anyway: having a haircut is a very awkward and uncomfortable process.
From the moment we timidly shuffle into the barber shop, work out who is in the queue and who is merely waiting for a mate/child, and then proceed to hide behind the red top newspaper on the table, the whole experience is one tactical game of chess.
The premise is simple: keep the barber happy in order to ensure the best haircut possible.
This tricky task is often challenged and ultimately compromised by a series of obstacles, the first of which is set in motion as soon as we are eventually called up to the chair.
We must decide almost instantaneously, without even a shred of self-doubt, which exact cut we are hoping for, and then describe in intense detail how we expect the barber to go about achieving this look – completely forgetting it is, in fact, their actual job to know how to do this. We may even feel the need to show them a picture of some extremely good looking celebrity with hair we can only dream about having, in order to guide them, or even a picture of a previous haircut we had that we actually liked.
After giving the barber a step-by-step guide to our dream haircut, this is when the most important stage of “Operation: Keep Barber In A Good Mood” is undertaken. We must decide whether to sit stone-faced and silent throughout, or engage them in conversation. Inevitably, we opt for chit-chat on a wide range of topics including football, the weather, football, football, and that murder that happened last week. “Terrible, far too young.” “I know, awful.” “So, you gonna be watching the big game on Sunday?”
This next bit is crucial.
We must must must, at all times, keep in mind which football team the barber supports. This is absolutely imperative as one slip of the tongue leading to us criticising his team could result in catastrophic repercussions for our hair, or even our personal safety. After all, he’s the one with the scissors.
The best bet is to just agree wholeheartedly with everything he says – even though it’s probably all garbage.
We must always remain as polite as humanly possible throughout the interaction, as the haircut can seem like a very tense and stretched process. Everything that is involved seems like it is achieved at a slight push, and we invariably act as if everything we ask/do somehow inconveniences the barber.
Almost subconsciously, we automatically weaken and modify our requests to suit the barber’s needs. This is done by adding ‘…if that’s ok’ after asking him to take your sideburns up a bit, and saying ‘…as long as you don’t mind’ when he asks if we want some gel in our hair.
When he shows us the back of our head in his little mirror, we nod approvingly.
When he hands us a tissue as some sort of going home present, we thank him profusely, pretending that we actually wanted it
When he asks if we like the haircut, we lie through our teeth and act overwhelmed with joy and happiness at his ‘fantastic’ job.
When we pay him, we always leave a pound tip, regardless of our satisfaction. (However, I do not agree with this custom: https://musingsofabored19yearold.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/tips-on-tipping/)
Finally, when we leave we rush home as quickly as possible, avoiding as many people as possible, itching the back of our neck as much as possible, have a shower, and then weep in front of the mirror, pining for some sort of miracle hair growth to fix the monstrosity we have paid an extortionately overpriced fee for.