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Familiarity, familiarity, familiarity March 14, 2007

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

Darlings, you must tell me to stop when the time is right.

But until you do, more booze and haircuts for you.

Now what’s the use in going to all that effort to autistically find the only alcoholic pensioner hairdresser in Berlin so that you can be sure you can sit in sleepy silence during the worst half-hour of every six-week period only for her to either go on the wagon or up her intake – couldn’t quite tell the difference – and decide to get all chatty on my ass? Having thought I’d perfected one tiny aspect of my life, I see it’s time to move on.

Which is a shame. We had a nice little arrangement. I’d go into the always-deserted salon. Express my desires. She’d satisfy them to the best of her ability and, were it not for the almost-constant burpettes throughout, I’d trot along happily when the job was done without anything more than the most strictly necessary of utterances having passed our lips (plus the odd shot of nerve-settling poison that she’d sneak off round the back for). Even the price was right.

But that was before the rise in VAT and her decision to go on the wagon or double her intake. I trotted in this week. There she was, customerlessly idle, looking as Slocombe-like as ever she did. I don’t know if it was the new hair-sweeper-upper I saw loitering around the place that had pepped her up a bit, but she insisted on chat. And call me inexperienced in such matters if you will, but as she rammed my face into her heaving bosom for some logistically-tricky stage of the proceedings, I think there was even a glint of the flirty Mrs. Slocombe in her eye. There were playful grins. Coquettish chuckles.

“So, you come in from work, then?” I was so combi-shocked at the thought of having to converse, realising I was in Germany and the preposterous idea that anyone might think I had a job that I shouted a rather graceless, “Was?” back at her before coming to my senses. While mulling over which replacement hairdresser I should now go to, I did my spiel – “Naa, work at ‘ome, dunn I” – and then nodded and hummed my agreement as she gently burped and spoke Berlinese in my direction for the rest of the haircut. But just as I was thinking I could put up with a bit of a minor flirt with the drunker/sobering-up Mrs. Slocombe for half an hour once every six weeks after all, she mentioned the dreaded loyalty card. This contact was getting far too human for my liking. Chit-chat was bad enough but then having to explain every time I came in that she should have my card stored somewhere in a drawer? And then there were the painstaking efforts of her recording what I’d had done. (Shavey-thing. 6mm. Dry cut.) And my name and address. “Ooh, what an odd surname!” “Yes, I’m English.” “Ooh, yes – burpette – I thought there was something funny about you.” And then the standard joke about my surname, which is sort of similar to an everyday German word. And then the announcement of the new, improved, 2007 price. “What!” I said internally. “I could have had a homosexual or girl-with-exposed-midriff to do it for that price,” but then remembered that I didn’t want them to cut my hair, as they might talk about pop-music or, worse, fashion.

It’s awfully tricky. Where does a wannabe hermit get a nice bit of social silence in this day and age?



1. Valerie in San Diego - March 14, 2007

Ah, I can really relate to this one. Sometimes I avoid certain appointments entirely because I’m going to be expected to converse, when all I want is electrolysis/teeth cleaning/haircut/massage/physical therapy/etc. Bah. Tuesday will be my first dental appointment in (oops) 6 years. Let’s hope the new one doesn’t try to make me make brilliant chit-chat while thrusting metal tools into my mouth.

2. MountPenguin - March 14, 2007

The hairdressers er salon at Friedrichstrasse station might be worth a try, I’ve ended up there quite a few times needing a follicular operation of a Sunday, and they seem to have a high turnover of staff who will happily natter away with their colleagues while practising cutting your hair.

3. marshaklein - March 15, 2007

Ah, I sympathise with you. I’ve just had a couldn’t-be-put-off-any-longer haircut, which is fine, the stylist is nice and not overly chatty, but I still feel like I’m missing a trick somehow. It’s like everyone else is a member of some exclusive club and I’m there by accident and no-one will tell me the rules. Not that I want to join especially, I’d settle for knowing what was going on. Number one daughter has had her hair cut too. She looks fab. I look the same, just with less hair. Mr K actually asked if I’d had my hair highlighted and I had to explain that it was just that the grey was more visible now!

Thanks for the pointers on wordpress. I promise not to ask you too many questions about how it all works.

4. pleite - March 15, 2007

Marsha, ask away if you have any wordpress queries. Happy to help, if I can. But shouldn’t a haircut have done away with the grey? My cut-off bits were almost all grey, whereas what’s on my head is, miraculously, mostly still black. So maybe my alcoholic dwarfette needs a break after all.

Penguin, I’ve been to that salon once. Think it was painless enough. I had a bitchy queen doing my riah and I think I got the tip all wrong. I’m probably allowed back by now though.

Valerie, my dentist bollocked me roundly on my last trip – pain-induced – for not having visited for two years. She’d have flayed me, presumably, if it’d been six. But maybe American medical professionals go in for that customer service malarkey. I can’t decide whether to admire East Germany or not for producing my dentist. Perfectly good at her job but she talks to me as if scolding her 12-year-old child and all her assistants have been hired from the Rude Academy. Exclusively. Too odd.

5. Blonde at Heart - March 15, 2007

If you do not like going to the hairdresser’s, do what I do and don’t go at all. My hair is over elbow-length, but I do not want someone who insists to chat to cut my hair. The Canadian suffers a lot because of my hair length, but when I threaten to cut it the way it was when I was in high school (boyish-short) he says he is not disturbed by my mile-long hair.

6. leon - March 15, 2007

I get my hair cut by a Frenchman. He’s a true master of the art, the downside being I can only afford to have it done irregularly at his fancy London prices. As a result I look like a mobile haystack at present (if hay was a dark brown colour).

A few weeks of attempting to sustain awkward banter with various cafe owners at lunchtime have left me convinced that I can’t do the whole small talk thing at all. I’ll just have to move everywhere in silence, like a…like a quiet thing of some kind.

7. pleite - March 15, 2007

Leon, silence is wonderful. Don’t underestimate its wonders. Alternatively, move to a country where you become non-lingual. That does it for me.

BaH, keep your lovely, long locks. I do possess one of those shavey things, and occasionally hack away at the sides and back, but, sometimes, only an (ex-)alcoholic, burping pensioner will do.

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