haircuts and gastrosexuals

Danyen, life, parenthood Add comments

I got a haircut today. I know that’s not the most exciting way to begin a story, but it happens to begin this story.

The stylist began with the usual round of chit chat. She asked if I had anything planned for the day. I told her that I would be studying in the library. Of, course she asked what I was in school for. The barber’s chair conversation usually turns to it pretty early on.

“I’m studying theology and ancient languages.”

uncomfortable pause.

They almost always do this – the uncomfortable pause.  Sometimes, they babble uncomfortably. But, usually, they freeze. She had no box to place me in. She didn’t know how to proceed with the banal chatter that is essential to the haircut experience.

Perhaps it’s a bit perverse of me, but I actually enjoy the uncomfortable silence. It’s not that I enjoy the discomfort of others. I know that my life’s journey has charted a course well off of the known path to success. The uncomfortable silence, to me, is a bit of affirmation that I am on the right course.

“oh, ummm, what do you want to do with that” she finally stammers.

I weigh my options. If I tell her that I am studying the Bible in graduate school her head might explode. So I decide to be a bit merciful. “I want to be a professor.”

I can almost hear her heart start beating again. Then she asks me which school I am studying at. I tell her. I think she might know of it. It’s the super conservative evangelical school just down the road.

She quickly changes the subject. We chit chat about our plans for the upcoming holiday. She informs me that she is having a pre-Thanksgiving today. She does this so she and her husband can share a holiday meal with both sides of the family. In fact, she informs me with a smile, “my husband is home right now in the kitchen cooking. My man cooks for me.”

I think she expected to surprise me with this. Perhaps the box she made for me was [religious fundamentalist, women belong in the kitchen serving their masters]. She really doesn’t know me. I smile affectionately and inform her that I am a stay at home dad, and that I do all the cooking in our home. I begin to share with her my love for my daughter. I can see her ripping off the mental label she created for me and trying to come up with a new one. Her body language is suddenly friendly and warm. She finds out that, not only do I do all of the cooking, but I love it.

She smiles, “men do love to cook.” I nod and counter “you know, I heard a new term the other day – ‘gastrosexual.’” Her look says it all. She can’t believe I just used the word sexual. Isn’t that, you know, taboo for my kind. I unpack. “Have you heard of metrosexuals? You know, guys who are very fashionable and man pretty? Well, a gastrosexual is a man who uses cooking to win the heart of a woman.” She laughs. “They do do that don’t they?!”

I get a kick out of the two worlds I move in. As a Christian scholar in training,  I get befuddled looks when I speak to people not a part of my faith tradition. “Isn’t Christian scholar an oxymoron like military intelligence?” Then, I am surrounded in my faith tradition by a mass of people asking what roles women should be allowed to have in society. The other day, I read an article about a seminary professor claiming that stay at home dads should receive church discipline because they are not out in the work force. As a stay at home dad. I sometimes get the puzzled looks of people befuddled by the fact that I am not “providing” for my family financially. Just the other day I found myself in a conversation with a male classmate about cloth diapers and attachment parenting. Befuddlement.

This is what makes me happy. I am on a path that makes little or no sense to a lot of people. People I meet have no idea how to categorize me. Hair stylists stop mid cut when chatting with me. I just want them all to see that this is what the life of God looks like. It turns your world upside down and takes you on a path you never thought you’d see, much less enjoy. And that is just where I find myself, enjoying the journey on a trip I never planned.

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