June, 2006: Parenthood and work were taking their toll. People moaned that my column was getting late. I vowed to arbitrarily murder the next person who knocked on my door. That made me feel better. And my brief encounter with the world of Korean hairstylists also did me the world of good.
I received more than my usual share of hate mail this week, which pleases me to no end. It proves that at least three of you are paying attention.
What seems to have drawn the ire of some of the more hydrophobic fans (look it up) is that I did not submit an episode of this column last week, thus disappointing my insatiable army of Fanatical Floggers. I promise you that as soon as I make up an excuse for this indiscretion, I will post it here.
Apparently, thousands of you set your clocks by the regular Thursday dose of merriment this column provides. No doubt you are often late for work as a result of this, and I suggest you buy a better clock, you cheap bastards.
Anyway, all of this pissing and moaning has really galvanized me into action. I hereby promise that I will do my utmost to provide you with your weekly spoonful of madness, and I can already guarantee that I will break that promise if next week is anything remotely like this week.
That is why, gentle readers, I must present a little spot for your consumption that I like to call…
It All Began With A Haircut
It all began when I needed a haircut.
Now most people, when they need a haircut, go to the hairdressers. After much careful consideration I decided last Friday that I, too, would follow this drastic course of action. Let it not be said that I am unwilling to learn my lesson after the “lawnmower” incident. The first thing you should know is that the Flowbee is both a waste of money and a complete crock of shit. The second thing you should know is that early Native Americans could have saved themselves a lot of time and effort if they had learned to scalp people as effectively as I did to myself with some hair clippers from Wal-Mart and a packet of ordinary household bleach.
No, it was time for professionals to enter the fray. And so while Torak and Nigh Perfect were visiting Grandma and Grandpa Perfect, I paid a visit to my local hairdresser.
At least, that was the plan.
The problem is, our good friend Megan (from Suddenly Stellar in Canton, Georgia! – ka-ching!) usually cuts my hair. I know the way to her house. However, I do not know the way to any of our local hairdressers. I resolved to patronize the first one I saw in whatever strip mall I chanced upon. You can probably picture my expression when that first hairdresser’s sign turned out to be written in Korean.
I stood outside the Korean hairdresser for a few minutes, pondering my next move. Was I really going to venture inside and ask the ladies working within for a haircut? What if they didn't speak any English? What if they called the police? The comedic possibilities were endless. And so I entered, chuckling to myself.
The first thing that struck me was that no one was actually having their hair cut. Being an observant sort, I also noticed that every single person in the place was female and that they were all having their nails done instead. This was getting better and better by the minute.
An older Korean lady approached, wondering if I had come in for directions. She was not about to give me directions because she didn't speak more than three words of English. Nevertheless, she was the designated translator because that was three more words of English than anyone else.
I explained—mostly by use of sign language and what I considered to be Korean sounding grunting noises—that I would actually like my hair cut, and I asked how much that might cost. The nice Korean lady seemed confused… and then, suddenly elated! Beaming with delight, she led me by the hand to the sinks, covered my head with a towel and motioned for me to wait.
Moments later, a very pretty young Korean girl came out of the back room and lifted the towel away from my head. The older lady beamed at me again.
“I beg your pardon madam?”
“You like girl? She very good. She expert.”
This was not going the way I expected
The pretty Korean girl smiled and ran her fingers through my hair. This was the sort of situation people pay good money for, assuming they are browsing the back page of the local classified ads.
The older Korean lady changed tactics with the practiced ease of a serial killer. Now, she began to scowl.
“She learn. But she good. You like?”
Feeling threatened, I admitted that yes indeed, I liked very much. But purely in a platonic way, as an admirer of the young girl’s potential hairdressing expertise. I hoped my noncommittal smile would convey such a message.
The pretty Korean girl led me, smiling, towards the back room, where she proceeded to wash my hair with something that smelled like ferret shit, much to my relief.
Now to say that the girl had never cut hair before is an understatement of epic proportions. I have my suspicions that she had in fact been locked up in a shed for most of her life, only emerging for the first time the previous week with a severe case of Hair Deprivation Syndrome. Indeed, this might well have been the very first time she had touched another human being’s head.
My suspicions were confirmed the ninth time she stabbed me and drew blood with her pair of scissors. Each bloodletting episode was accompanied by a cute little giggle: the Korean equivalent of the guy who screws up in a game of softball and calls out “My bad!” to anyone who will listen, even though his teammates at this point want to kill him. The hair salon was notable for its complete lack of clippers, combs, Band-Aids and hair products. They did, however, have lots of Korean magazines. I decided this would be a good time to pretend I had always wanted to learn Korean.
Now, you have to understand that every single human being alive has a magic key to their heart, and that if you are clever and/or sufficiently ingratiating you can unlock the door, so to speak. I asked the older lady if she could tell me the Korean translation for “Help, you are stabbing me repeatedly!”
She conferred with the six or seven other ladies who were having their nails done. They whispered for a few minutes, peeking over at me occasionally as if confused. Suddenly, they all broke out into peals of laughter. The older Korean lady offered a translation, which I am guessing was something along the lines of, “Hello, I am a fucking idiot… please laugh at me.”
I repeated this phrase a few times, much to the ladies’ amusement. Now, they all came over to visit me. Someone brought me a cup of green tea, and another lady kindly offered me a piece of candy that looked and smelled like it was made from the same ferret shit they had been spreading on my head.
Meanwhile, the pretty girl had managed to cut just one side of my hair with her remarkable scissoring technique. The older lady asked me what I thought, and I replied that I thought the girl was doing a wonderful job. Everyone seemed very pleased with that response.
Whereupon the girl whipped the towel from around my neck and disappeared into the back room!
The next thing I knew, the older lady was ringing me up at the register. I looked like a refugee from the eighties band, A Flock of Seagulls! How the hell was I going to go home looking like this? I asked the older lady if she had any wax for my hair. Again, she looked confused.
(Now the next bit, I know you are not going to believe me… but I swear it’s true.)
After a moment’s consideration, the lady seemed to get the gist of my request. She sat me down again… and proceeded to put leg wax on my head! I am not kidding! Leg wax!
As a hair product I have found that leg wax is entirely useless unless you want to look as though you have been standing under a tree full of pigeons. Perhaps in Korea this is considered the height of manliness – certainly, all of the ladies seemed to coo and cluck as if they totally dug my hotness now that I had undergone the ritual sputum-bathing ceremony. I paid the requisite twelve dollars, and I left the extra eight bucks for the pretty girl as a tip since there was not a snowball’s chance in hell I was ever going to return. With that, I made good my escape.
I have learned three things from this experience
1. Humor is universal, and practical jokes are the best form of entertainment when large groups of Korean women encounter a British person.
2. People are the same the world over. You can get a shitty haircut anywhere, even in Korea.
3. No matter what kind of haircut you get, your wife will always complain. You might as well get a bad haircut so that the complaints have some merit.
This week’s moment of spousal madness
As I was making my way home from a poker game this week, I got a frantic call from my Nigh Perfect wife that went something like this:
“You’ve got to get home now! There’s a baby squirrel in the house!”
“Well, why don't you let it out?”
“I can't! It might have rabies.”
“Oh, so you don't care if the fucker bites me and gives me rabies?”
“You have more experience with this sort of thing. Just get home!”
Bringing my vast experience of getting bitten by rabid animals home with me as quickly as I could, I rushed into the house as soon as I arrived. Night Perfect was on top of the coffee table. The three dogs were sniffing around on the complete wrong side of the room. Mister Quimby was sitting by the sofa, looking very interested in what might be hiding underneath. I knew where to look.
The first thing that struck me as I lifted up the sofa was how remarkably like a chipmunk this baby squirrel looked. In fact, it was the most chipmunk-like baby squirrel that had ever existed. I would not have been surprised if this baby squirrel my wife had encountered did not indeed share many of the same genetic traits as an actual chipmunk, such as living in a chipmunk house, procreating with other chipmunks and actually being a chipmunk. My wife, however, remained convinced that it was a baby squirrel. Mister Quimby seemed convinced that the poor little bugger was dinner.
After a long chase around the house, I managed to catch the poor little critter in mid leap in a fishing net. I took it outside and let it free, whereupon it shunned the nearby tree and dived into some bushes instead.
In retaliation, Mister Quimby peed in one of my shoes.
This week’s moment of spousal madness, Part Two
Nigh Perfect and I are selling our house this summer and moving on to greener pastures. I would like to present this photo as evidence that my wife is completely mental.
Now the obvious thing here is that Nigh Perfect, being the considerate girl she is, has left instructions for people viewing the house on how to lift the baby gate. What you cannot see is that the instructions are taped the entire way around the operating mechanism, thereby rendering it completely impossible to open. It’s like an intelligence test: we are only going to sell our house to anyone clever enough to spot this deliberate mistake and climb over the gate.