“I’ve not seen you for a while. Did you have your hair cut here last time?”
It was a simple enough question. I had no idea at the time that it was going to lead to one of the most shameful lies of my adult life.
I was sitting in the barber’s chair of my local hairdressers as the owner of the establishment trimmed my hair and made small talk. It was him that had asked the question.
I like my local hairdressers. I’ve been going there for the past six years. I go there whenever I need my hair cut. However, the last time I had gone there (the time he was referring to) he had been too busy to fit me in and instead of coming back the next day I had sneaked off to another hairdressers. I’m not proud of it.
So when he asked me, “Did you have your hair cut here last time?” I needed a moment to think.
It was an innocent question which I could have simply answered but I didn’t want to tell him that I had been unfaithful with another hairdresser. I felt guilty about it. It was because of this that I told a small white lie.
“I… was out of the country for a while.” I said, heavily implying that this was when my hair had last been cut.
It was a small white lie that answered the question neatly without any need for further discussion on the subject. There could be no arguing with such a statement. I’d been in another country, I’d needed to get my haircut, I’d had no choice but to see another hairdresser, and besides, what happens on vacation, stays on vacation even if the vacation is completely fictitious. Most importantly of all it was a small white lie that avoided the need for any awkward confessions on my part and allowed us to continue our happy relationship…. That is until he did something I was (foolishly) not expecting him to do.
“Where did you go?” He asked politely, smiling with interest.
I quickly said the first thing that came to mind, “I… er… went back to London.”
London was an easy choice. It’s my home city after all but the closest I’d actually been to London in the past six months was when I had spotted a sign post on a Dutch highway that read ‘London 356 kilometres’ and pointed in the vague direction of the sea.
“London is very nice. Did you do anything fun there?”
I said the first thing that came to mind again, “Oh… nothing much… Just a quiet Christmas with my parents.”
This had not been the plan. The lie was supposed to be a small, innocent lie. Now I was telling fibs about how and where I’d spent Christmas two weeks ago. In reality I’d spent Christmas and New Years in Friesland with my family-in-law. My ‘small white lie’ was slowly taking on a life of its own.
“That’s nice.” There was a short pause, which for a moment made me think his curiosity had been satisfied, “I think a lot of people had trouble travelling this winter. You did also, yes?”
I wanted to stop, I really did but I could not simply say ‘no’ any more. The answer would have been too unbelievable and the lie had become too big for unbelievable answers. The lie was forcing me to get creative. I picked a number at random. Eight seemed like a good number.
“Well… we had a delay of about 8 hours at Schiphol airport.” I said uncomfortably, feeling my cheeks burn a little.
The lie had not only taken on a life of its own, it had a wife, two kids and a mortgage. If it continued to get any bigger it was going to need its own postal code.
“That is not too bad,” he replied. “It was a lot of chaos here. Many trains not going.”
I eagerly grabbed the chance for a subject change, “I know. I…”
Then I quickly stopped myself.
I was going to tell him about the trouble I had experienced getting to work during the snow fall in Holland but I’d quickly realized that it had all happened during my fictional vacation and I could not have possibly experienced it.
“Did you watch the fireworks in London on New Years?” He asked.
“No, it was too busy. We watched it on TV and had a quiet New Years Eve.” I replied feeling quite defeated.
The lie now had a life of its own, a family, a mortgage, a mid-life-crisis, a Ferrari and a mistress.
There was an awkward silence.
“So you had your haircut while you were in England?” He asked.
“Yes.” I replied and hoped that this would really be the end of the questioning.
Surprisingly it was. He did not ask any more questions. In fact he did not say much of anything else. In fact he seemed a little annoyed. I suddenly realized why.
Christmas had been two weeks ago. I had said that my last haircut had been two weeks ago. In reality it had been two months ago when I had sneaked off to the other hairdressers. I was sitting there in the chair with two months worth of hair growth, not two weeks. That’s the kind of inconsistency that most hairdressers would notice and it seemed that my now pissed off hairdresser had.
I like my local hairdressers. I don’t think I can ever show my face there again.