By: Sam Szwartz
As I walked to SuperCuts this past Sunday I happened to notice a few light flurries of snow scattered about the air as unfamiliar faces continued to clear what they intended to shovel the night before. The walk lasted just about five minutes, which I only remember because of how I had to the Nick Drake song.
Upon my arrival, I was greeted by a familiar face whose name I can’t recall. As usual, we casually chatted about the world of sports and the UFC fight that took place the previous evening. Ever since I was young something about getting my haircut scared me, so I never ask for much in the process. He undoubtedly noticed a slight anxiety about the air and intentionally lightened my mood by pretending to take out a chunk of my hair accidentally. This made me giggle until I gulped for breath when my head was suspended back above the bowl intended to catch the shampoo. Soon after that, I tipped him well and headed out the door, but not before grabbing a lollipop for my walk home.
With my scalp exposed to the air, I happened to take note of the many comments that would soon be directed my way (all of which would certainly regard my new haircut). As I said, the haircut was nothing special; however, as I expected, many were quick to comment on the next day. There is nothing like the question, “Oh, did you get a haircut?” The answer is typically painstakingly obvious, and it is asked even when the answer is obvious.
Looking back on these interactions I wonder if something with seemingly such little surface value could hold secondary meaning. Maybe, “Did you get a haircut?” serves as an excuse for communication. I often think that people jump at an opportunity to be correct and observant. Yet many utilize the question before declaring either criticism or praise for someone else’s personal decision. But most importantly, the idea that people ask questions that they know the answer to before asking,suggests a level of insecurity behind an established opinion. This is a result of many being afraid of the complement losing value. The value is lost when those asked to respond with snarky comments like, “well actually, I cut it a long time ago,” making the complementor feel insecure for not noticing sooner. Or, the self-centered, “well actually, I think it looks horrible,” which resembles an obvious attempt to fish for further compliments. And lastly, the snarky, “Oh, thanks!” which only serves as a pre-emblem prior to the conversation’s conclusion. Overall, the way many in schools or group settings conduct themselves when knowing an answer in before asking questions, serves as a bitter representation of the American capitalist system. Everyone wants to get ahead and prove that they are ahead of the next person, even if that is as unnecessarily simple as commenting on something as simplistic as a haircut.