I know this style as the “Crop-Top Mop-Top,” copywrite coming soon. I’d never seen one in the wild before, only caught glimpses while flipping through glossy magazine pages. The day in the bookstore changed that.
I should have known. Innocuously sitting not five meters to my right were the shelves of art supplies. Paint brushes, massive portfolios, and pastels all neatly arranged and overpriced.
There were three in the group, a female and two males, and maybe that was why I didn’t notice right away. They laughed, the girl’s hair glinting plum purple under the lights.
Then he stepped out from behind a shelf and I, once again, found myself staring. Pale skinned and gangly, the boy was most definitely an art student. His features were long and large, giving him a bug-out look, and his chin curved out to a prominent point. His choice of hairstyle was clearly not researched.
Both sides of his head and around the back were shaved down to nothing. There was no “number” on that razor, just blade to skin until they reached bald. Just as his skull began to noticeably round, the shave stopped and the hair began. Well, I should say that the overgrowth of hair obscured any way to knowing how far up the razor had run. From the side, it was an unruly mess. I eventually determined that the boy has naturally curly hair, but blow-drying and styling had prevented any ringlets. The hair had fought back against this unnatural look by twisting into uneven waves that sprung whiskers made of spilt ends.
Then he turned, and I saw the frontal effect. A perfectly arched sweep of hair flicked back, the strands glinting with product. It was the kind of style that said, “Yea, this took longer than my last painting.” He caught my eye and smirked, confident in his hair-seduction, while I stared resolutely at the carpet, ignoring the burn in my cheeks. They disappeared a moment later, large pieces of black construction paper under their arms and paintbrushes between their fingers.
A Separate Musing
A main purpose of this exploration into field notes is to evaluate myself. I know these past few posts have been critical of those around me, but rest assured, I am far more heavy-handed when it comes to critiquing my own writings, hairstyles, and choice in clothing shades.
I wanted to try out a new skill in a way that would allow me self-reflection, without concern for a poor showing negatively affecting a day of research. So how did I do? In a word: awkward. Interpersonal interaction is not a skill I was born with. I do not strike up conversations with the ease of breathing, nor do I have the ability to “keep in touch” with those I don’t see on a daily basis. While this is something I am actively striving to change, with different margins of success, it is still difficult. Mix in an activity that I’ve never done, and you’ll find me in a secluded corner.
But I am a Grade A watcher. I dislike that “out of my element” feeling, it tingles and gurgles in my gut until my hands shake from the nerves. So I watch, I gather information, and I learn. There are energies in a room that can be read if you stand still enough, breath softly, stretch your ears and taste the air over your tongue. The energy in the bookstore was calm, tired, the staff winding down after a long day and patrons absentmindedly drawing strength from the stacks, enough to get home and get some rest. There was little tension, and had I begun my quest earlier and spent more time, I know I would have broken through my worries and started interacting with those around me.
As it was, I did find a confidence in the activity itself. I moved passed the social taboo of sitting alone, of watching strangers, of not being afraid to jot down a feeling or twelve. I did try to start a conversation, though the attempt fell short. That’s a victory and an encouragement. All of this winds down to the exercise itself. A bookstore was a good choice, a familiar stomping ground, and I think anywhere else would have been overwhelming. I know that the trial gave be solid ground to stand on when I went out into the field. With practice and determination, this research will be a heck of an experience.