Media-shined politicians love to drop the odd awkward personal tidbit, hoping that the managed release of ‘defects’ will allow them to better connect with the vaunted but flawed everyman who’s suspicious of anyone too clean cut. Nothing that signals incompetence, just that they’re in touch with the human instinct for mild deviance – a bit of (casual) drug use here, some (minor) schoolboy arson there – they love to get these nuggets out there.
As we rocket towards Election Day, the electorate mirrors this confession compulsion and slivers of hitherto undeclared weaknesses begin to slip out.
That hardline Republican colleague with the kitten pendulum on her desk peeks over her computer monitor and tells you that she definitely definitely prefers Romney’s economic plan…she’s just slightly concerned that he can’t seem to flesh out the particulars. You, in turn, admit that while you’re glad Obama’s insured more chunky behinds, his occasional murder of American citizens niggles you a little. The floodgates now hauled open, the flood ensues – crushes, diet breaking, fudged contracts, relenting only when realised that you both agree that Gina in HR is an utter cow even if everyone else loves her. Now it’s all in the open, you can sit together, watch the same debate, the exact same performances and each merrily declare your man the winner.
A large part of the debate analysis tool kit focuses around body language: Who’s got the most relaxed shoulders? What’s their blink rate? Every minutia sifted for meaning. But you know what? I just can’t get off the hair. Romney’s well-seasoned rich man’s mane. Obama’s sober close cut. They fascinate me. Why?
Because my election confession is this: I don’t know how to get a haircut.
I know the basic mechanics of the transaction, I can walk in and exchange a tenner for a surly grunt and a “number three, back and sides and a bit shorter on top”, what I mean is that I don’t know how it works beyond that.
It’d be easy to say I don’t care or that I don’t have the money for something fancy, but really I just have no idea what I’m doing. “How’d ya like it?” asks the curious cutter. “Oh however you fancy, really, I’m not fussed.” I reply. But I am – I am deeply fussed – and perennially disappointed. Basically, I just want it to look really awesome but have difficulty communicating this. I understand that some people resort to bringing in pictures of a celebrity barnet that they would like to emulate but much like a put upon Iranian scientist with a downed American drone, I know my reversed engineered pale imitation will just crash and burn.
This isn’t new, of course, it all started back at school. The cool kids with their tints and choppy cuts. Who made this happen? Was it their mum? One guy had an aunt who was a stylist, but that didn’t explain the rest of them. My experience consisted exclusively of getting driven by my granddad to an small but efficient Greek man in Lewisham, a man who ran one of those barbers with faded sepia pictures on the wall of pretty boys modelling an array of hairstyles, none of which my Hellenic hairwrangler had any ability or inclination to recreate.
Curtains, highlights, faux hawks, nuevo mullets – all these trends passed me by, meaning that, unlike most of my friends, embarrassing photos of my past are defined by my stupid actions rather than my ridiculous hair, a dalliance with lazy shoulder length curls aside. In hindsight I’m grateful for that, but now I see my buddies sporting refined, mid-20s stylings (I blame Mad Men for this) and marvel anew.
Whilst the glacial retreat of my hairline means that I thankfully won’t have to live with this inaptitude for much longer, it definitely falls on the side of ‘incompetent’ thus excluding me from running for public office. (Though I hear that’s never stopped anyone from trying).