It all started innocently enough: I was trying to get my hair cut today. I like rocking the indie pop recluse vibe, but I also like the idea of getting my life together. The first casualties in my personal and professional upswing will fall from my head and face.
There was a problem though: Not gonna spend forty bucks on transformation, which eliminates every barbershop I’ve seen in my up and coming (read: rapidly gentrifying) neighborhood.
As one does, I took to Yelp. I actually applied to work on their sales team once. Basically, you call Yelp customers and try to get them to buy more advertising so as to show up more often on related searches. I got a phone interview. I did not ace it. I no longer live in the Bay Area. I actually lied to a barber about it once; “Account Executive,” I said.
Anyways, I clicked the “$” box to put two in the dome of any store that might offer me a beer or a shot to uncomfortably finish and try not to get hair in. You gotta make sure. Pro bono, pro-tip, family.
Luckily, there were a couple of establishments left not taking cues from the Peaky Blinders-understudy set. I began to peruse the comment sections in a greedy attempt to further hone my experience.
Several of them went a little something like this:
“hipsters haven’t discovered it yet”; “hidden away so the hipsters shy away”; “not overrun with hipsters.”
And I began to wonder, am I going to look the part of this apparent scourge on the shearing industry?
I certainly didn’t want that. I took stock of my wardrobe options.
- I could wear what I’m wearing.
Pro: I haven’t showered and I’m wearing mid-thigh mesh shorts.
Con: I’m also wearing a flannel shirt.
- I could put on jeans.
Pro: My jeans are pretty ragged. They do not emanate “trying.”
Con: My jeans are pretty ragged. They do not emanate “trying.”
- I could wear a suit.
Pro: I would look like a no-nonsense professional. “Just getting a little shaggy, my good man. Can’t have it affect my quarterly performance review! Henderson will chew me out something awful. And I don’t mind telling you, he can be a real bear!”
Con: I don’t own a suit.
The more I thought about it, the more it dawned on me that, as a slender (read: weak) white male in my early-20s living in Los Angeles and writing for the internet, I can’t help but look like I recently attended an Avey Tare DJ set.
I mean, sure, I put in my Am Appy rack time in High School and I had my hair the same length all the way around at one point in college. But had I really boxed myself in so as to not be able to put New Balance to barber’s threshold without incurring scorn, inward or otherwise?
Desperation crept further and further up my psyche as I tore to the bedroom and began to rummage through my dresser.
Band shirt, band shirt, band shirt, flannel, desert boot, pea coat. Fuck.
Was there any going back?
Skinny black denim, band shirt, v-neck, chunky Nikes, band shirt; this was a big problem.
I slumped against the bed. I had an ad for Portland on my corkboard: “We literally have no time for sales tax.” I just thought it was funny. But was it defining me? I felt sick. I picked up the late-era Stan Ridgway CD on my desk. “There’s no attempt to be hip and with it here,” I thought, “But what if someone thinks I’m being ironic?” If that literally-the-realest-in-the-game barbershop commenter were standing here, judging over my shoulder, he’d probably scoff. He probably listened to Wall Of Voodoo before “Mexican Radio” was even conceptualized.
There was no comfort to be found in my living room either: Not one, but two ukuleles; a set of Moscow Mule mugs; a mate gourd; A Jon Stewart biography; not one, but two MacBooks. This cruel inventory seemed to know no end.
This was not the aesthetic I wanted, but then it hit me: this was the aesthetic I deserved. (And not only because I was interested in cultivating an aesthetic in the first place, which is pretty telling, I guess.)
I thought about all the craft and/or cheap beer I’d consumed in the past six years. I thought about the indie rock shows and the thrifting and how many Magnetic Fields songs I’ve found meaningful. I thought about the tight sweaters and the traffic I created for Stereogum and Pitchfork over the years. I thought about collecting vinyl and cutting fresh jorts and attending a liberal arts college.
Then I heard a sound rising, up from the streets.
It started in low. Then it started to grow. But the sound wasn’t cloying. Why, this sounded profound! It couldn’t be so! But it was profound! Very!
I stared out my window. I popped out my eyes. Then I shook. What I saw was a shocking surprise!
Every 20-something for miles, the tall and the small, was singing! Without any irony at all!
I hadn’t needed to stop the inevitable comparisons from coming.
They came! Somehow or other, they came just the same!
And me, with my feet well clad in suede-leather, stood puzzling and puzzling, “Maybe I’m not really better…”
They sing without smirks! They sing without gall! They sing like there’s nothing to make fun of at all.
I puzzled some more and then shrugged a big shrug. “Maybe looking like I do’s not so bad after all… I mean, at the time, every purchase seemed like a good call…”
With an “Eh” and a “Meh,” I walked down to the street, and started singing a song with my constituency. We sang how the kids looked impossibly tan and asked for the whereabouts of all of your friends.
Smiling, I walked through the mid-morning smog. And I paid for the haircut with beer after all!
Because we are who we are and we’ll seem how we seem. So read all the blogs that you usually read and like what you like despite connotation, ‘cause who cares who’s a fuck, I mean like everyone’s fine.’