I don't just dread small talk, I LOATHE IT! It's draining, it's unnecessary and most of the time it's not an interpersonal exchange: it's just some inane person firing meaningless scattergun questions at you to fill the silence.
Well guess what? I don't mind silence, in fact, I ADORE IT. Especially when I am sitting in the hairdresser's chair: that captive torture chamber where you not only have to stare at your own face for 40 minutes but you also have to field INANE small talk questions from a 20-something hairdresser who thinks "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" is SUCH A GOOD SHOW.
"Going somewhere special tonight?" Unless your definition of 'somewhere special' is my couch with a gin and tonic and the entire fourth season of The Good Wife ready to roll, no I am not.
"What are you up to on the weekend?" Nothing. Nada. Zip. Even if I was up to something, I doubt the details of it would be of any RELEVANCE OR INTEREST TO YOU!!!
And my personal favourite, the lazy person's way of starting a conversation:
"So ... what's been happening?"
Translation: I can't remember anything about you since the last time we made small talk in front of this unforgiving mirror that makes you look like a lizard lady, so give me a few clues about who the fuck you are again.
Well, news just in: a hairdressing salon in the UK has cottoned on to the fact that some of us dread the inane chit-chat of the salon chair and are now providing a 'quiet chair' for those who 'dread small talk.'
I dread small talk so much that I engage in random trips to different hairdressers all over my locality, just so they can't get to know me and start asking more personal questions every time I come in.
In FACT, what I would like is just a hairdresser's version of the public bathroom 'glory hole' that gay men have. You know, you just sort of push your hair through the hole in the wall and it gets magically 'serviced' by someone on the other side and you don't have to look at them or talk to them.
Because the problem with salon small talk is: I have nothing in common with hairdressers (I have nothing in common with ALOT of people) and it's really hard to get the conversation 'firing.' And a conversation that doesn't fire, is DRAINING.
Recently I tried to get on board with the chit chat
Here's how things went down:
"Got any plans for the weekend?"
"Yes. I'm going to Melbourne."
"Omigawd, how fun! What are you going to do, go shopping?"
At this point I should have just said, "Yes, I am going shopping," But then I thought, if I opened up the whole shopping can of worms it would probably lead to more questions about shopping about which I'd have to make up some more answers and ... you know the tangled web ...
So I answered truthfully, hoping it would sound so boring it would SHUT THIS SHIT DOWN.
"No, I'm going down for work."
"OMIGOD YOU POOR THING!!! OH NO! THAT'S TERRIBLE!"
Seriously, it was like I had just told her I had inoperable brain cancer.
"No, it's fine. It's fine." I really felt like I had to calm her down before she started to cry. "I actually like what I do for a living. So it's fine."
"Oh, what do you do?"
Don't answer that! DON'T ANSWER THAT!
"I'm a writer." I said, walking FACE-FIRST into more probing questions. "I'm going down to do some work with my sister."
Awkward silence. Foolishly, I decided to fill it.
"On a script."
"Oh! Like for television?"
"A film script."
"Oh! My friend works for Home and Away and they do script meetings on yachts."
"Well, we will not be on a yacht. We will be in my sister's kitchen, so ..."
Insert: the awkward sound of conversation grinding to a halt.
"So when are you flying down, tomorrow morning?"
"No, I'm going down tonight at 8:30."
"OH NO YOU POOR THING! OH NO!!!"
"No, it's fine. It's actually easier than going in the morning, it's not ... it's fine. I'm fine."
"Oh you poor thing! Oh no!"
Another awkward silence as she ponders the absolute TRAGEDY that is my sad little life and the way I spend my weekends flying to other cities in the dead of night to NOT GO SHOPPING.
At that point, I pulled an old New Idea off the shelf in front of me and started flicking through it indicating that the conversation was over. But it felt awkward and I felt bad about it, so then I started saying inane things about the celebrities in the magazine just to make her feel more comfortable.
And I also made a note in my head not to come back to this particular salon for a while. At least six months should wipe her memory of my sad non-shopping, nocturnal flights to Melbourne life to have script meetings in kitchens and not on yachts.
Here's another thing I dread: the head massage
Every time. EVERY TIME! And because I keep forgetting to have my file stamped, "NO HEAD MASSAGE" and also because I keep randomly going to different salons so that they can't get to know me, I have to wait for the hair-washing hand movements to change to 'strangely intimate head molestation' movements and head them off at the pass before it becomes too awkward.
"I don't want a head massage, thanks."
"No head massage ... please ... thanks."
"I just don't like it."
Incredulous, that I would not want to sample their massage expertise. "Really?"
"Yep. I hate it." Why would I want some 19 year old apprentice MOLESTING MY SKULL?
"Oh, that's fine." Said in a tone of voice that implies, it's so totally not fine and now they are offended.
"Yep sorry. Just don't like it."
Now I feel bad because it's awkward and they're still touching my head to rinse off the conditioner, but sort of doing it in a way that indicates they are trying not to 'touch' my head too much because I am so clearly a pathological weirdo.
"It's fine, I mean some people love it." She says, sulkily.
Translation: people who are NOT WEIRD LIKE YOU, YOU TOTALLY UPTIGHT ARSEHOLE.
"I know. I'm weird." I concede.
And once again, note to self: wide berth on this salon. At least 12 months due to the offence the 'no head massage' move has caused.
Anyway, my point is: when is the quiet chair (or even better, the glory hole) coming to a salon near me? I'd be up there EVERY WEEK getting my hair blow-dried and relishing the SILENCE.
Ahh. Silence. But not awkward silence. Just. Silence.