Order in Chaos!

It being a rather slow night, your friendly bartender did what he usually does when the business is like this… leaned against the back bar, folded his arms and observed his eclectic assemblage. And what immediately caught his eye (even before the brunette from Cleveland nursing her apple martini), was the dude leaning forward on his barstool checking out his “Do” in the mirror and tweaking it in between pulls on his Bass Ale.

Now normally this wouldn’t in the least be something observation-worthy, (and certainly not more worthy than watching Miss Apples), but the “Do” this man was tweaking made it so. It was one of those messed-up-on-purpose, tousled affairs so prevalent these days by men pursuing the bad boy look. You know, the… “I just rolled out of bed”… “Where the fuck are my pants”… “Make my coffee black”… “Gimme a goddam cigarette”… “Fuck work”… “Maybe I’ll call you, maybe I won’t”… “I ain’t shavin'”… I just don’t give a fuck“… bad boy “Do”.

So a few minutes later when your friendly bartender served this guy another Bass (no glass), careful not to block his mirrored vanity tweak-fest, he launched into the following conversation.

“Mind if I ask you a question?”

“Ah… no, man. What’s up?”

“Simple question. When you’re fixing your hair in the morning, how do you know when you’re done?”

Eyes now bulging in “What the fuck?” bulginess, Tousled Top simply responded with an, “Excuse me?”

“Hey, I’m not trying to break your balls, man, I’m just curious about something. You guys that sport that messed-up-on-purpose look have to have an end point  where you look in the mirror and say, ‘All right, proper amount of mess up here, messed up the way I want it… I’m done!’ What I’m saying is, there’s an obvious order to that chaos, a place you try to arrive at because I just saw you trying to get to that place in our mirror. But “messed up” by its very definition connotes incompleteness. Disorder. Undone! That said and if that’s the case, I guess what I’m really asking is… how in the hell do you know when you’re actually done? That’s my question.”

His eyes now orbs the size of frisbees, and convinced I’d stepped off a spaceship concealing deftly under my “Do” green antennae, Tousled Top eventually curled me a smile and after enough deliberation to absorb the entirety of Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason, issued the following reasoning through a crimson blush. “Ya’ know, it’s just like whatever, man, know what I’m sayin’? I mean…  you just… it’s like at some point you’re just done, I don’t know. I mean… you really don’t think about it, it just happens, know what I’m sayin’? Fuck,” he added with a chuckle, “I don’t fucking know.” (But you do know, I thought, or you wouldn’t have stopped tweaking so there actually must be a place of completion for each dude’s tossin’ and messin’… order in chaos!)

“Oh, I see,” I then said, really not trying to embarrass the guy, then we put a button on the exchange with an amiable Barack-Michelle “terrorist fist bump”.

Now don’t get me wrong, your friendly bartender has nothing against that look or those who sport it, in fact he might even border on jealous because he’s not the type who could coolly pull that off (and women really do seem to go for it), it’s just that he finds the creation of that “Do” quite an enigma. For when are you done? And where is the order embedded in that chaos because in my day (take it easy, dear reader, I’m not that old, I can still go into The Gap without a nurse), not-a-hair-out-of-place was the order of the day and a follicle defying conformity was met with everything from industrial strength gel to a fucking hand gun. And so for “messed up” to be the “order” he just finds amusing. So amusing in fact that if your friendly bartender suddenly decided to walk behind the stick all messed and tousled, sprouting some facial stubble to complete the effect, he’s convinced some phone calls would be made, some people would be questioned… and a siren would soon be detected off in the distance.

Which brings your friendly bartender to this final point to be made regarding this “Do”. And it involves the “Don’t”. Male reader, if you’re passed forty nine years, six months, three days old, and you attempt to compile a version of the bad boy look, you’re really not sporting a “Do” you’re sporting a “Don’t”. A big fucking “Don’t”. Yes, dude, there’s a cut-off. See, at your age, (simply because it’s “in”) you just can’t out of nowhere blithely skate into your workplace, (or into YFB’s bar which he’s seen), messed up to the nines, sporting a topside rat’s nest coupled with the obligatory five o’clock shadow as a back-up… for you won’t look bad-boy young but old-school nuts. Like you’re off your fucking meds and escaped from The Home.

Yes, there are certain certainties in this universe, “everything’s constantly changing” is one, but that doesn’t mean you can change your “Do” to a “Don’t”. So just re-part your hair, or slick it down if that’s what you did before you decided to take a walk on the wild side, take out a Gillette fucking Twin Blade and relax. And of course heed this crucial warning which YFB offers: If you’re fast approaching fifty and you’re thinking of sporting a “Don’t”, there are four important words that you should ponder… Nick Nolte’s Mug Shot!

So when Bass Ale got up to leave we exchanged a proper handshake… the regular kind you were taught to proffer on job interviews… then YFB rushed straight to the awaiting sink. He then ran a torrent of water over the palm of his right hand, not to expunge any germs, dear reader, but to pat down a stubborn hair he saw out of place!

PS: It’s so much better when the bar is really busy because stuff like this doesn’t happen to my brain.

26 Responses to “Order in Chaos!”


  1. 1 Stephanie Z January 31, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    The dirty little secret is that there is no perfect end state. One doesn’t stop arranging the hair in this situation. One merely pauses to do other things for a while.

  2. 2 Anonymoustache January 31, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    The Don’t! I fucking love it!
    So you’re trying to say that there is an age beyond which shabby-chic just looks like shabby-shriek, huh?

  3. 3 scribbler50 January 31, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    I am, Stache, I am! There’s a fine line between “Damn you look cool,” and “How ’bout I give you a buck for a cup of coffee”… and age is often the determining factor in crossing over that line into “shabby-shriek”. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it! (Or at least until I post my next blog.)

  4. 4 Isis the Scientist January 31, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Alright Scribbler, I am only going to tell you this once. I’ve had children, so my bladder control is not what it use to be. If you keep making me laugh this damned hard, I cannot be responsible for the consequences and I am going to have to start sending you the bill for the cleaning of my furniture.

    That being said, I don’t know if I am on board with you. I have a terrible, terrible weakness for the bab boy look and I think House is a pantydropper. When mama comes to town, make sure and give the hair a tousle, sweet Scribbler.

    Then again, I’ve had a drink or two.

  5. 5 Isis the Scientist January 31, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    Bad boy, even.

    Damned vermouth.

  6. 6 scribbler50 February 1, 2009 at 1:54 am

    Isis: For you I’ll tousle, but I’ll require a hairdresser on board for old-school touch ups. Okay? Does the science community provide something like that? A traveling hair dresser? Cause I’m not Hugh Laurie and I can’t go full-out toss and swirl out of nowhere. I’ll require a professional walk-through for such a change. I’m just sayin’.

    I had some cocktails too tonight… Bless,you, Isis.

  7. 7 Anonymoustache February 1, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Isis, Scrib50:
    Yeah, House is a fucking stud. But the difference is that it’s not a ‘look’ to the character. He just doesn’t care and is who he is–an arrogant genius who doesn’t bother to look any different than a panhandler. I think that’s why it works with him. If he tweaked his look every time he passed a reflecting surface, he’d look like a dumbass too, no?

  8. 8 Juniper Shoemaker February 1, 2009 at 9:06 am

    It was one of those messed-up-on-purpose, tousled affairs so prevalent these days by men pursuing the bad boy look. You know, the… “I just rolled out of bed”… “Where the fuck are my pants”… “Make my coffee black”… “Gimme a goddam cigarette”… “Fuck work”… “Maybe I’ll call you, maybe I won’t”… “I ain’t shavin’”… I just don’t give a fuck“… bad boy “Do”.

    Dude, Scribbler, where have you been? Don’t you understand that this is merely the latest manifestation of “metrosexuality”? First, metrosexuals favored looks that made their level of maintenance painstakingly clear. Now, they labor for hours in an attempt to make us ladies think that they just happen to own cotton dress shirts that artfully wrinkle and happen to artfully grow just the right amount of five-o-clock shadow after a hard day at the office. Oh, and that they roll out of bed with fetchingly tousled– not matted!– hair and a naturally-occurring shower-fresh scent that makes us want to drag them back under the sheets. Did I just write that?

    I don’t drink, anyway. And I’m not really a real adult. I should so stay the hell off this blog.

  9. 9 Isis the Scientist February 1, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Isis: For you I’ll tousle, but I’ll require a hairdresser on board for old-school touch ups. Okay? Does the science community provide something like that? A traveling hair dresser? Cause I’m not Hugh Laurie and I can’t go full-out toss and swirl out of nowhere. I’ll require a professional walk-through for such a change. I’m just sayin’.

    Are you kidding, Scribbly? When I travel to scientific meetings I go a-la-Sarah Palin with a makeup artist and stylist in tow. That way I can get regular touchups throughout the day. It’s all part of our lab’s budget.

    And Anonymoustache, you might be right. It still doesn’t change my absolute weakness for tousled, sarcastic, 5 o’clock shadowed boys. It’s a blessing and a curse. Much like vermouth.

  10. 10 scribbler50 February 1, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Juniper: Don’t, I repeat, don’t “stay the hell off this blog.” Your intelligence and wit are most welcome. Do you think I’m a “real adult”? I conduct my life as if I were nine!

  11. 11 DuWayne February 1, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Hey now, some of us can’t help that “just fell out of bed” do. Short of industrial strength mousse (or plaster of paris) inevitably random bits of my hair go poking up here and there. And if I forget to take the cordless shaver with me, I get the five o clock shadow around lunchtime.

    On the upside, rather than a bad boy look, it’s more of a look that only a mother, or a geek could love. Especially since I passed the “pretty boy” stage and have moved into the “being identified as my child’s dad” stage.

    Juniper –

    Real adults are only pretending.

  12. 12 leigh February 1, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    the ones who really, truly don’t care what they look like are obvious. the ones who care that you think that they don’t care… also obvious.

    i never understood the endpoint of that hairstyle either… but i am highly amused that you actually asked!

  13. 13 goosenyc February 1, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    That was the best….Scribbler your observations are priceless….

  14. 14 LostMarbles February 1, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    The thing one has to remember about House and his “look” is that he’s played by Hugh fucking Laurie. I wanted to jump his bones when he played Prince George in Blackadder and by all objective measures that was not pretty.

  15. 15 chezjake February 1, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Nicely wrot. If your touch with mixology is as good as your touch with words, you’ve got it made.

    For those over 50 who still have a full head of hair, I can highly recommend totally forgoing the barber and cultivating a long, well-cared-for and clean ponytail. I haven’t had a haircut in 8 years and people seem to think I’m about 15-20 years younger than the reality.

    BTW, neat piece of bar trivia: That red triangle on the Bass bottle is the oldest continuously used registered trademark in the world.

  16. 16 scribbler50 February 1, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    chezake:
    Thank you very much for the kind words and for the piece of trivia. I wasn’t aware and will share that information with the next person who orders a Bass.

  17. 17 Juniper Shoemaker February 2, 2009 at 5:52 am

    I conduct my life as if I were nine!

    Then I’ll fit right in! Yay, “adulthood”!

  18. 18 d-a-p February 2, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    i’m not sure which is worse…being perfectly coiffed myself since 1963…but i’m not sure which is worse…hair unkempt as a life’s work or the strong aroma of Jade East Cologne…or both… standing in front of a tom cruise movie poster…
    great use of a slow night though….waiting for the hard cover collection….
    p.s. i hope the lady had a 2nd martini…

    d-a-p

  19. 19 Jim February 3, 2009 at 11:17 am

    YFB – I couldn’t agree more that there’s an age limit (though I think it’s lower than 50 to be honest), but there are times my friend, when it’s good to pull out the “shabby-shriek” look. Particularly when you want to be left alone…

    Personally, I’ve been wearing the military cut since junior high (some 25 plus years ago) so I’m not one to talk…

  20. 20 DuWayne February 3, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    chezake –

    I actually like to explain to my seven year old, that when I’m older and have lost most of the hair in the middle, I’m going to wear my remaining hair very long. He doesn’t believe me when I tell him that it will embarrass him to no end when he’s a teen.

  21. 21 Sven DiMilo February 3, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    No haircut since 1977, except to get a few scraggly inches chopped off the bottom occasionally. But I still look old.

  22. 22 isisthescientist February 3, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    No haircut since 1977, except to get a few scraggly inches chopped off the bottom occasionally. But I still look old.

    I don’t think Isis was old enough for even her first haircut in 1977.

  23. 23 scribbler50 February 3, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Isis: Let’s not talk about age, Scribbler gets nervous!

  24. 24 chezjake February 3, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    @ DuWayne

    Fortunately, I’ve still got a full head of hair. My grandfather lost that middle part too, but he explained it this way: “I’m not balding; I’m cheap, and I buy seconds on haircuts.”

  25. 25 bluefoot February 4, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    I fell in love with Hugh Laurie when he played Bertie Wooster, and the whole “bad boy” look he has as “House” is DEFINITELY a panty dropper.

    Perhaps Hugh Laurie is an example of the exception proving the rule, ’cause in every other case I can think of, I agree with the Scribbler. Then again, there’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan too.


  1. 1 Mirror, mirror on the wall… « Behind The Stick Trackback on January 30, 2010 at 5:09 pm

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