Listening in on the tone of mothering

Last week was my first 2012 hair appointment. I go to a tiny place. It has wooden floors, a big window overlooking the German street, and a set of drums that sure looks pretty and is rumored to actually be played by the owner. Hair appointments are something I started treating myself to when I was working as a reporter in my 20s. I’m quite particular about the places I choose. These are valued moments of being pampered, and I don’t have many moments of vanity these days.

So, I was sitting there enjoying my magazine (“The New Yorker”) and not chatting to my hairdresser – we don’t have much to share anyway. Half-way through, however, the other hairdresser blew in with flowing scarf and jaunty bag, shortly thereafter his customer. They had a great need to talk. They had just both had babies. So there I was, chained to my chair by wet hair and scissors, forced to listen to their stories — wondering whether to contribute something myself but feeling like an intruder. After all, I was a stranger and at least 20 years older.

I tried to ignore them, but they were speaking freely and loudly and I felt myself getting increasingly agitated. There is a certain tone of voice used by young German urbanites who think they are cool. They know everything and have an opinion on everything. There is no room for mystery or for questions. Life as they describe it is clear, unhampered, and well-organized.

to be continued…

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