I’ve been putting it off for some time now, but the day has finally arrived where I’m getting my hair cut. My unruly mop has reached the ridiculous stage where people are stopping and pointing at me in the street and young children burst into tears at the sight of the ‘strange man’ with Dickensian sideburns. I’m fed up with my fringe and flummoxed by the annoying sticky out bits I’m constantly having to flatten down with cold water.
I’ve written before about my morbid fear of indulging in smalltalk with barbers. The topics of conversation terrify the introvert within me; the weather (a Northern Irish standard), how Manchester United are doing (badly) and Brexit (don’t ask me, I haven’t a clue). The barbers at my local salon are hard core Belfast, bedecked with tattoos and talking a million miles an hour. I get around one word in seven if I’m lucky.
Their establishment is a shrine to local boxing legends, of which there are many, and the aforementioned under performing football side. I don’t know a lot about boxing but can pass myself off if required. ‘Did you see the Conlon fight?’, ‘Yes, that was some body shot,’ etc etc. Then we will bemoan the state of United’s midfield and how the current over paid primadonnas aren’t fit to lace the boots of dear old Georgie Best, God rest his soul.
Then there are the mirrors, an occupational hazard of entering any hair cutting establishment. They’re everywhere. And if there’s one thing I hate more than excruciating small talk it’s having to look at myself. The same goes for shop windows or anything that emits a reflection. I don’t like looking at myself. Maybe that’s the reason I delay getting my locks lopped off for so long. I don’t like what I see.
I’ll religiously avoid them where possible. Shaving in the morning is a challenge and you’ll never catch me preening in front of a full length like some of the sights I saw when I used to frequent the local gym. The same applies to photographs. I don’t mind getting mine taken but I don’t particularly want to view the resulting image as I’m forever disappointed by what I see. It’s illogical and infuriating but I’m not comfortable in my own skin.
You would think by this stage in life I would have grown accustomed to the man in the mirror. But no, he continues to surprise and irritate me. Both inside and out. I’m always striving to be better instead of accepting myself for who I am, warts and all. You eat too much junk, you don’t run enough, the weight is creeping back on, is that the suggestion of a double chin? The voice within never stops.
So I’ll get my hair cut today. When he’s finished the barber will ask me what I think and I’ll nod and mutter before shoving payment in his hand and departing as quickly as I can. I could be walking out with a pink, two foot Mohican, I’d be none the wiser. I’ll walk into the office where colleagues will remark ‘nice haircut’ as I try to curl up into a ball behind my computer screen. Please talk about something else, anything. Even Brexit.