A Note to All The Ladies Who Visit the Asylum; as a public service, I am about to offer you a FREE piece of advice about the inner-workings of that most disagreeable of creatures: The Man.
This advice will not help you rekindle the romance. It will not give you any greater insight as to what absolute pigs men are (believe me, we are). It will not even help you to better understand us, except in some superficial way. It is an observation, one that I hadn't really made about myself before, but that now having discovered this intriguing bit of unrealized stupidity, I simply must write about it.
In case no one ever told you...
...Men are creatures of habit, and the Older we get, the more set we are in those habits. The more we persist in that sort of stupidity, the more dull and boring life becomes. I would wager that at least a third of divorces arise because some dude won't give up his comfortable, but annoying, habits.
You would think that with all the time I've spent in therapy, I would have noticed this about myself before, and perhaps even taken steps to correct this potentially-dangerous-on-par-with-OCD behavior earlier, but for some reason while I have been able to recognize the really big -and-obvious destructive baggage that I carry, I had never quite noticed this little personality quirk until today.
And it took a Gay Man to bring about this Epiphany.
See, I've needed a haircut for quite some time. In fact, I'm one of those men who finds a trip to the barber shop to be a massive inconvenience, like passing a kidney stone, or having to eventually do the laundry because you've run out of socks and underpants to turn inside-out. My last haircut, before today, was approximately seven months ago. Most people go to a doctor once a year for a physical, I go to the barber but once a year and usually because it's difficult to see, or birds are beginning to nest in my hair. I shave (almost) every day. I often shower twice a day. I'm manic-bordering-on-anal-retentive about creased trousers, perfectly-ironed shirts, and shined shoes, but when it comes to getting a haircut, I'd probably prefer a Clorox enema.
Oh, of course, I can find justifications for this weird behavior: at my advanced age (nearing 44) most of the men I know are losing their hair, while my own magnificent mane continues to flourish, growing like an endless field of wind-blown amber grain. I'm only now starting to go gray, and it's but a few strands here and there, while everyone else my age is already starting to show a little snow on the roof. My hair is probably, on some Freudian level, my visible symbol of continued virility. In a way, I think I'm engaging in what might be called, under different circumstances, female behavior: it's almost as if I'm telling all the other 40-something men "Eat your heart out, sucka!".
Anyways, eventually, even I break down and have to admit that it's time to bring in the harvest. My hair was curling over my collar in the back -- a look that hasn't been popular since the days when David Cassidy could set teenybopper vaginas aflame. My head appeared to have grown to twice it's normal size. I could take the hair hanging down in the front of my head and nearly touch the tip of my nose with it. A few days ago, I was out in the cold, and two hours after my morning shower, my hair was still wet (blow dryers are for pussies!)...and it froze to my scalp. I could actually pick ice crystals out of it.
So, it was time. And herein lie the discovery of my inner Creature of Habit.
I was, unfortunately, very busy this afternoon. Mom is getting more mobile, but is still not fully independent, so this afternoon I was needed to escort her and help her out while she did her errands. One of these errands was a trip to the laundromat. Now, my mother doesn't do what normal people do, and use the laundromat four blocks away, because that would be too easy and would deprive her of the opportunity to annoy the living shit out of me. No, she must use the "better" laundromat (how one makes these distinctions is beyond me) ten blocks away. This conflicts with my desire to, finally, chop the hair off my head in my regular barber's chair. While she sits around waiting for the laundry that I will have to carry back home, I'm looking for the nearest haircutters, just to get the damned thing over with.
And so it was that I walked into one of the newer salons that has just recently opened in the neighborhood. It was nearby. it was convenient. It was full of really cute Korean Girls. That's good enough for me, so I walked in.
I was greeted by a really adorable little thing with funky pigtails, like you usually only see on a Pokemon or in a Japanese anime feature. Immediately, it becomes apparent that there is going to be a little problem with language, my Korean (learned from Korean ex-girlfriends) being limited to about three phrases -- and they shouldn't be repeated in polite company, but I'm going to because you've come to expect that sort of coarseness from me -- are, roughly translated into Engrish...errr...English:
1. Oh My God, that was awesome!
2. Easy! That hurts a little (I like 'em petite, and I am Italian, after all...wink, wink)
3. Not now, you stupid bastard!
So, Funky Pigtails asks me:
You wan' hay-cut?
Yes, I want a haircut. Do you do Men's hair here?
You wan' hay-cut?
Yes (pointing at my head) I would like a haircut. Do you do Men's hair here?
And then I heard it as clear as day. That sound that reminds one of steam escaping, or of a slow leak in a steel-belted radial.
Yessssss, we cut Men's hair.
Turning, I caught sight of something so funny that I'm amazed that I managed to stifle my laughter. If there's anything funnier than a Gay Hairdresser, it's a Gay Korean Hairdresser. This is a long way away from my usual haircut routine, where I walk into the same place I've gone to for the last five or so years, and they know what to do without asking. In fact, no words are exchanged at all; they just start cutting. I'm caught now. Cornered. I'm used to having women cut my hair (admission: it's vanity. Women rave about my hair), not some skinny dude in skinny jeans with cowboy boots and a bandanna around his neck. There's nothing for it.
I'm about to get some Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
And I'm about to discover that "Yesssss, we cut Men's hair" is about all the English this guy knows.
I try to explain what I want, in a combination of pidgin and hand gestures, and he just stares. When I'm finished, he shakes his head, indicating that this will not do. He tries to explain what he thinks should be done, and I'm not really getting it. I don't speak Hair, nor do I speak Korean Queer. Eventually, for some unknown reason, I simply make a gesture which could be interpreted as "whatever you think is best". Surrender: It's easier that way.
The guy was a scissor demon. I don't think I have ever had someone spend that much time with a pair of scissors on my head, and it wasn't just the considerable amount of hair he took off, either; the guy was working like a sculptor -- a fine cut here, a little adjustment of an angle there, ooops! Missed that little bit over there.
Then he whipped out (pardon the pun) the electric shears. I was now about to go into apoplexy, imagining one of those ridiculous close-cropped monstrosities that passes for fashion these days. All the best Guidos on Staten Island have haircuts that resemble what you get on your first day on Parris Island, only with designs or messages carved into it. The man goes to town with comb and shears, shaving here, slicing there, trimming everywhere. Every so often he stops, and I can't quite tell if he's trying to get some loose shavings out of his way, of if he's trying to turn me on by blowing in my ear, but at this point, I don't give a crap; I'm in the chair for nearly 45 minutes, already. If I had gone to my regular place, I'd have left 20 minutes ago.
Apparently, something wasn't quite up to snuff, so the scissors come out again. I'm not exactly sure what he's trimming and cutting, but he's determined. Every so often, he stops to ask me something I cannot understand, and somehow I find myself reflexively saying "yes, that's fine". Eventually, the job is done; there is an inch-thick pile of hair at the base of the chair. That oversized bib-thingy I'm wearing looks like Magnum, P.I.'s chest. You could construct an entire grizzly bear from what came off my head, I reckon.
And Super-Gay Korean Dude holds up the little mirror, and gives me the rear view (hah! I said "gay" and "rear view"! Oh, I slay me!), the side view and the view from above. I finally look into the big mirror across from the chair, and not only has this dude done an incredible job on my haircut -- it's shorter than I've ever worn it, and I suddenly look thinner and about ten years younger (I already look very young for my age, but this was simply incredible). I'd like to think I'm not a (terribly) vain man, and I will admit that I know jack about fashion and the finer points of personal grooming beyond the occasional snipping of nostril hangers -- I mean, I don't even trim my mustache; when it gets to the point where I'm actually eating it along with my dinner, I simply shave it off and start again -- but this was a revelation.
Creature of Habit. I'd been getting the same haircut, more or less, since high-school, with little variation. Had I ever given much thought to the possibilities of something different, who knows what might have been? I have to say, I felt exceedingly happy about a simple haircut, and in one hour three habits seem to have gone by the wayside:
1. I have decided that I shall get more frequent haircuts.
2. I may have found a new barber.
3. I will resolve from this day forward to occasionally, consciously, break with my usual habits. I will try a new coffee shop. I will order a different sandwich at the deli instead of my usual chicken cutlet/fresh mozzarella/roasted red pepper, fresh garlic and olive oil on Semolina. I will do something different at least once a week from here on in.
It gets better.
On my return to the laundromat that attractive strawberry blond who wouldn't give me a second look when I first walked in? She struck up a conversation. Oh, and I have clean underpants again.
And here is your second piece of free advice, Ladies:
Get your man to break some of his stupid habits (by no means all of them!), and you just might get yourself a New Man in the process.