The human population is so diverse that no single means of classification can do any group justice. Classifying people on their inclination to get haircuts is as good a rationale as any. You can observe that within the male audience, there are people who like to keep neatly trimmed, perfectly groomed hair on their noggins. On the other side, we have the stubbornly resistant haircut-defying rebels who would raise arms against the ritual massacre of their cranial follicles.
For the major part of my life, I had belonged to the latter, defiant segment, hiding away from marauding scissors for as long as possible. However, the rebellious streak has weakened, partly due to professional etiquette, partly due to wifely influence (“If you don’t get your hair cut today, I’m hiding the remote!”), and partly due to the fact that my hair has protested my lack of attention by parting ways.
While I have become more regular than before, I still have a long way to go before I’ll be admitted to the Regular-Haircut Guys Club (That’s a thing, right?). The point is that I’m still not a regular enough customer for hair stylists that I know the latest trends/ procedures they follow. Whenever they throw their fancy haircut lingo at me (“Sir, all I’m asking is if you would like it short or medium”), I just sort of wing it (“Well, I’m thinking I’ll have a little bit of both, you know”). Normally, this works out fine (as far as I know), but this becomes an especially troublesome issue when you bring in strong accents into the mix. This is the case with my current hair stylist, a chatty young Arab who is always full of energy. He speaks a little bit of English, but it is so heavily accented that for me, it’s almost indistinguishable from his Arabic.
When I went for my last haircut, I just wanted a slight trim, but when the stylist started the session with some question, I nodded instinctively. I only realized that I had agreed to a short hairdo after he ran his trimmer over my head. Sure, it took me by surprise, and I realized almost immediately that the question the guy had asked was whether I wanted my hair really short. At this point, the only thing I could do was pretend this was what I wanted all along.
There was nothing to do but silently accept the fact that I would be wearing a stubble on my head for a while. But while I was busy silently accepting, my stylist’s Englibic (or Arabish, if you prefer) struck again. He pointed at my face, said “vazzof ok?“, and paused for my response. I was sharp enough to understand that he was asking me if something was OK. But I had no clue what this ‘something’ was. In such a situation, the prudent conversationalist would insist on knowing context before replying. The prudent conversationalist would have asked for clarity and persisted on getting an answer. However, on that day, there was a distinct lack of prudent conversationalists in the saloon. This is why I smiled uncertainly and replied “OK“. I mean, what the hell; I was feeling pretty fine.
After saying OK, I immediately started analyzing what a vazzof could be, and whether it was truly OK. Perhaps he was making small-talk and Vazzof was a town under seige that he was concerned about. But if that’s the case, then why would he assume that I had inside information on Vazzof? Maybe I looked a bit Vazzofish. Maybe he thought I was from Vazzoff. I don’t know anything about Vazzof, so I couldn’t assess whether I should be flattered or insulted by this. The best way, I reasoned, would be to keep a neutral expression and sit thr… whatha??
My thoughts were interrupted suddenly by a warm, squishy sensation on my upper cheek. Being smarter than the average bear, I was quick to connect the dots and decipher the code. What my jaunty stylist had asked me a minute ago was not “Vazzof ok?”. He was pointing at my cheek and saying “Wax off, OK?”. He was smearing my upper cheek with wax, and before I fully realized what was happening, he had already spread the stuff on my forehead. It was time for me to quickly put a stop to this and admit my mistake. Which would have been the sensible thing to do, but being a man, false pride trumps sensibility, and I opted to pretend that this was what I intended all along.
Needless to say, I was even more nervous by this point. I had heard tales of horror of how much the waxing process hurt, and I had never even heard of anyone doing this to their face. So I nervously chuckled “He he… .This is the first time I’m doing this. Ha ha.” He replied “Habibi (Friend), You no done this before??? Relax, relax.”, and he kept chanting ‘relax’, even as he picked up a couple of fresh ear buds and nonchalantly shoved some more wax up my nose.
My nose! My nose? When did that happen? How has society devolved to accept that a grown man can plug hot wax into another man’s nostril? Under what circumstances is this a scenario where relaxing is even a remote option?? Who waxes the inside of their nose anyway? Apparently, I do. But it wasn’t like I had a lot of time to ponder over the devolution of humanity. The wax hardened soon, and the stylist began the procedure of painfully, painfully ripping apart erstwhile pieces of my face. I was busy trying to keep my inner voice to myself, as at that point, my inner voice was high pitched, squeamish, and uncannily similar to a little girl’s screams.
Waxing. I don’t have the time, patience or the energy to look up the history of this practice. So I have no choice but to assume that this is a derivative of a medieval torture practice, whispered to the medieval warmongers by the devil himself. The process of ripping the hardened stuff off my face was excruciatingly painful, and I felt that the only reason I wasn’t bleeding was that the searing heat had cauterized the wounds early off. While that was tough, compared to the plight of my nostrils, it was a piece of cake - a nasty, ugly piece of cake. When he yanked those buds off, I had no doubt in the least that my nose had come off.
And now, here I am, de-follicled and in pain, all simply because I couldn’t just say no. No, I don’t understand what you’re saying. No, I do not want my hair cut short. No, I don’t want my face waxed, thank you. And for the love of God, no, I don’t want to wax my nostrils. I can’t think of anybody who’d be impressed by the smooth, shiny texture of your noses’ inside. If YOU can think of someone, you need to report that guy to the authorities. I want to go back to the saloon, grab my hair stylist by the hair (I am a fan of irony, even if ironically, I got the word ‘irony’ wrong here) and yell at him, explaining that nobody wants their nostrils polished; that evolution put hair there for a reason.
I WANT to do that, but I won’t. I won’t, because I know that if I go back to the salon, he may ask me if I want my eyebrows dyed blue. And chances are that I’ll smile uncertainly, nod my head, and say OK.