Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's time for a national conversation about the refusal of teenage boys to make chit-chat at the hairdresser's

So the latest warning sign, apparently, is that the Newtown killer failed to make small-talk during a haircut. It seems to me that there's a very specific personality - one possessed by exactly zero teenage boys - that enjoys gossiping at the hair salon, but that the vast majority of humanity does not. Hairdressers seem to think chit-chat is expected of them, or maybe cutting hair gets boring so they just get to talking, so we-the-people-with-hair-that-needs-cutting-every-so-often will oblige. To a point. Several years back, when I tried an upscale hipster salon, my amply-tattooed hairdresser asked me why I wasn't married yet. She was. Ahem! Or it will be about what I'm in school for, and for how many years, and what I plan to do with that. And this is supposed to be relaxing?

Via Moebius Stripper's Twitter.


Jacob T. Levy said...

Hair-cutting professionals who try to engage their hostage clientele in conversation beyond "how 'bout them Mets?" are second only to dental professionals who do the same as History's Greatest Monsters.

PG said...

The dental professionals are ahead by quite a bit, given the difficulty of responding. Also, perhaps not an issue for teenage boys, but I think the chit-chat of people performing a wax goes second, ahead of the hair-cutters.

Jacob T. Levy said...

Ah. I could believe that.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

Jacob, PG,

Agreed, the dentist is an exceptional case - you can't reply, so why are they talking to you? (And how timely - just made that appt.)

PG, re: wax - I think the nature of that is, if you're a woman going in for that the first place, you've won whichever conventional-person points, and so you can probably rest easy. Also, of course, there's the gender angle - it might be more usual for men than women to be all-business in grooming situations, but aberrant/introverted behavior in women isn't viewed as Warning Signs, what with women's collective lack of interest in committing massacre.

Oh, and Jacob, if a hairdresser asked me about sports (not that one ever has), I'd have no idea. But a smile and nod generally gets the point across.

Miss Self-Important said...

I think people are just annoyed that there is no personal and family information about this guy like the edifying bullying saga available for the Columbine murderers. They're grasping as the story peters out. I agree with your concern for the harmless weirdos and non-weirdos who don't small talk that well, but I don't think we're about to burn them.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...


"I agree with your concern for the harmless weirdos and non-weirdos who don't small talk that well, but I don't think we're about to burn them."

I'm not sure, though, that we're in a position to know. We probably both know a lot of eccentrics not keen on small-talk, but these are people who've found a place for themselves, who along with whichever traits also happen to be talented and hard-working, and to just generally have it together. But if you're a regular old introverted high-school weirdo, it does seem that your classmates, teachers, and community may now read your behavior (assuming you're male) as warning-signs. In one of the many articles on this, someone was saying that people are now already starting to wonder if Aspergers means warning-signs, and given that that's not even an official diagnosis anymore, it's not tough to imagine that this will apply to any kid who might be informally assumed to be worthy of that label.