Did you ever think you were cooler than you are? It’s not that I thought I was cool, it’s that I wanted people to think I was cool. I wasn’t very good at it. You see, I am naturally a klutz and have a talent for turning anything remotely cool into a memorable fiasco. It’s been like that childhood.
The most memorable “look-at-me-I’m-the-opposite-of-cool” moment happened when I was in college. I was going through my goth-phase. If you aren’t familiar with the goth culture, I can enlighten you. Goths tend to enjoy being depressed (or pretending in my case), talking about “real” vampires, writing sad poetry and always, always wearing black.
During this particular time in my life, I was a music major at college so I naturally hung out with the interesting and unique individuals that frequented the music department. The problem with my attempt at being a goth was that I only owned about 3 pieces of clothing in the desired shade of doom. My wardrobe often lacked the full effect of rebellion. I did wear thick, dark eyeliner and black lipstick which tasted like wax and extremely difficult to put on. I blasted The Cure all day long, hoping coolness would come to me through osmosis. I figured that eventually, I could fake cool long enough to convince people: As long as they weren’t in contact with me for more than ten minutes, 15 tops.
It was a nice spring day in the Northwest. The weather had warmed up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It was just warm enough for me to trim by hair, so I headed to the local discount haircut store to see my favorite stylist, Michael. Swoon… He had long, curly blond hair and deep blue eyes I could sink into. He was dreamy and I was determined to be cool around him. I didn’t date much. OK, more like I never had a date, but I was hoping that my coolness would bring about one this particular day.
Before walking out the door, I remembered how cool Michael looked with his pierced eyebrow and tattoos. I reached for my secret weapon hidden away in my jewelry box: my fake nose ring. I concocted this contraption from a piece of a broken earring. It was a simple silver ring that opened just enough to get it on my nostril. It fit snug enough that it made an indent, causing and authentic look. Awesomeness at it’s best!
As I drove to my destination in my caiman-green Ford Tempo, I imagined how I would respond when Michael would beg me to go on a date with him. I practiced the art of subtle blushing at every red light, tilting my head ever so slightly as I looked bashfully at nothing in particular. This, I told myself, would be the love story I would tell my grandchildren about how I had met their grandfather, “Michael-The-Handsome”. I was grateful for the traffic and the rehearsal time it provided. I could make no mistakes. This day would determine the rest of my life!
I pulled into the parking lot and checked my appearance one more time. It was perfect. I wore all three pieces of black clothing I owned, dosed myself in the ever-popular patchouli oil scent I had acquired at the local “cool-kids” store in the mall, and had successfully applied a perfect layer (or 10) of dark, depressing eyeliner. The time had come and I had my full arsenal.
I walked in and was delighted to find Michael without a client. He looked up at me from his magazine reading and immediately greeted me with his usual friendliness. I sat down and explained I wanted the usual trim. His response was one I did not expect.
“And what would your usual be? I’m sorry, but I don’t think I have ever cut your hair before”.
Crash and burn. I thought it was game over for me but of course, I couldn’t just end it at that. Oh, no. I wasn’t going to give up.
“Oh, it’s just been a while,” I replied. “My hair is longer and I have this new nose ring that probably changes my face some.”
If I could have been there with me on that day, I would have promptly smacked myself on the head and dragged me to the parking lot. It would have been much more dignified than what followed. Of course, this isn’t the Christmas Carol where the ghost of Christmas future would come and show me my wrong-doings. That would be too easy, right? What followed could only be described as… well, I will let you decide.
As I reached up to point at my nose, my hand tangled on the nice plastic apron Michael had tenderly placed on me. I untangled myself as gracefully as a mouse giving birth to a hippopotamus while running through a minefield. As my arm flung free, so did the scissors Michael held as my arm smacked his hand. I will forever be grateful that the seat next to mine was empty and the sharp scissors only hit a cushion and not a person. I caught my reflection on the mirror as Michael turned to grab his tool and saw the unthinkable. In all the arm-flapping, my nose ring had popped out and landed on the counter in front of me. My cat-like instincts kicked in and I reached out in front of me to retrieve my precious cool-weapon-of-love. I grabbed it and frantically attempted to place it back on my sore nostril. As I reached up, I noticed my nose was a bit wet with a red, think fluid. The strength of my arm-flailing had caused a scratch on my nose where the ring had once dangled.
As Michael turned, I immediately got up and ran to the bathroom. I can only imagine what must have gone through his head as the sight of me. Actually, I don’t want to know.
I came out, nose ring-less, and apologized profusely. I told him my nose ring felt infected and that I took it out. He politely smiled, prepared the chair once again, and cut my hair without another word. I left him a nice tip, with plans to find myself a new stylist. I don’t know what he saw or if he believed me. All I know is the goofiness of that day led me to accept me for who I am. It didn’t stop me from trying to fit in or be liked by everyone (that’s another story), but I no longer pretend to be someone else.
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