I have had phases of my life when I’ve been incredibly shy and socially awkward, and then phases when I’ve overcompensated and been loud and obnoxious. The past few years, I thought I’d kind of found a sensible middle ground, where I can talk to people without either worrying about how they’ll perceive tiny body language cues that I’m not even aware of, or making them the audience to The Fantastic Dolbia Show. And then there are days like today.
I have been going to my current hairdresser for a little over a year, I think. She does cuts and colours and we banter and it’s always been great. I had an appointment today to have my hair done, and it’s little overdue, so I’ve been feeling scruffy. For those of you who have not had their hair dyed by a professional, typically they colour it and then cut it, rather than the other way round. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, because it means they’re dyeing hair that’s just going to be cut off and thrown away, but there must be reasons.
Today my hairdresser, who I shall call Mandy in order to preserve her identity, started by putting in the dye and foils on the left side of my head, and then spun me round so that I faced away from the mirror while she did the right side. When she turned me back towards it, I saw the ridiculous image of myself in a black smock with a head full of foil. I looked like a volcano that spewed out silver instead of magma. And I said – and this where it all started to go wrong – “I look so pretty today!” Mandy misheard me and said “Thank you! Some people have said!”
Now, Mandy was looking cute today, which she always does. She’s curvy and has a couple of facial piercings, and a bright smile. I never say anything, because I’m terrified of sounding really creepy: “You look so pretty today. I want to touch your face.” It would be extra awful if I did something that grossed Mandy out and then she felt she had no choice but to cut my hair for another 45 minutes when she’d really rather be scrubbing her hands. So I never tell her that she looks nice because I don’t want her to see me as “that customer who’s always perving on me” and dread our appointments. So when she thought that I had told her that she looked pretty, I started damage control and said “No sorry, I said that I look so pretty today.”
And this is worse, because now I’ve taken back what sounded like a compliment. Shit. And she was OK with the compliment in the first place so if I’d just let it go, it wouldn’t have mattered! But now I’ve implied that she’s not pretty, which is worse than telling her she is. Aaargh! And at this point, I look a bit lower down in the mirror, and I realize that under the smock, I’m tenting my hands in my lap. Which means that there’s a suspicious looking bulge coming from my crotch.
And after I’ve collapsed my hands, too much time has passed for me to really say anything without making it worse. Besides which, there’s lots of people around so if I dug myself in even deeper, it would just escalate and escalate. So through the rest of the appointment, I’m contemplating apologizing and ultimately I decide that the moment’s passed and it wasn’t a big deal. Mandy’s still very chatty so I don’t think she’s actually upset.
But now 9 hours later, I’m still thinking about it and whether there’s any way to recover now. I could track Mandy down on facebook and send her an apology, but I’m worried that that would only reinforce the creepiness. I could bring a card to my next appointment saying I was sorry, but that’s in 6 weeks and she’ll probably have forgotten by then, so bringing it up again would be weird.
But then, is blogging about it any less creepy?