Let Saigons be Saigons

I don’t understand what the woman who cuts my hair is saying.

She’s very sweet, and she’s great at what she does, but her Vietnamese accent is so strong I have no idea what she’s talking about.

The only thing I can figure out is that the stories she’s telling are meant to be amusing.  I say this because she giggles at the end of them.  And some of them are apparently about her kids, something I know only because she once pointed to a framed photo of them.

When I first started going to her, I would just nod as she spoke, but it left such long silent gaps in the conversation that it became awkward.

So I soon began saying one of two things, “That’s great,” and “That’s funny.”  I alternate the two of those and throw in the occasional “Wow” and “Aren’t kids amazing.”

My problem is that one of these days she is not going to be telling an amusing anecdote.  And I’m going to have a conversation like this:

Her:  “My son stabbed the mailman.”

Me:  “That’s funny.”

Her:  “The poor guy died.”

Me:  “That’s great.”

Her:  “Now my son’s on death row awaiting lethal injection.”

Me:  “Aren’t kids amazing?”

Her:  “What should I do?”

Me:  “Wow.”

Perhaps I should go back to nodding.

35 thoughts on “Let Saigons be Saigons

  1. Eh. She probably doesn’t understand a word you’re saying either. Don’t sweat it.

  2. To avoid future problems, you should have a conversation with her son. Problem solved.

  3. I’m sure my father has had these types of “conversations” with people before. Which is why he now drags my mom along while he gets a haircut so he doesn’t have to talk to anybody. You might want to try that method.

  4. My ex used to have a Vietnamese dentist…until the woman drilled & filled the wrong tooth.

    Me, I’d go for the “permanently implanted iPod earbuds & yelling ‘WHAT?’ every time she trys to talk” look.

  5. Run for Congress! You are able to exactly parrot everthing our senators and congressmen bleat:
    “The oil rigs are on fire in the Gulf!”
    Response: “We all need illumination!”

    “The Gulf is being pumped solid with oil!”
    Response: “No ordinary American should now complain about costly oil! Go to the beach and harvest it for yourself! BP is giving it to you free!”

    You would be a election shoo-in and really fit right in.

  6. She’s giggling and pointing at pics of her kids because she’s telling you that she told all her friends that you are the father.

  7. Isn’t nodding your head while receiving a haircut a bad idea? Maybe that’s why you look the way you do…

  8. I have the same problem with the people who do my nails…keep with the nodding.

  9. If you switch the ‘Wow!’ with ‘Aren’t Kids Amazing’, the conversation will flow quite naturally. She may think you’re insane, but at least your conversation will make sense.

  10. I wouldn’t suggest it. What if your conversations turned into this?

    Her: “I’ve been thinking a lot about stabbing one myself.”

    You: -nod-

    Her: “It’d be pretty easy with these scissors.”

    You: -nod-

    Her: “I bet I could stab you.”

    You: -nod-

    Her: “Can I stab you?”

    I think you can see where I’m going with this. At least your current situation makes you seem like an ass. Returning to nodding might cause blood loss.

  11. Knowing how much you dislike speaking to people, I’m surprised you subject yourself to this type of abuse. Cut your own hair and mumble to yourself instead.

  12. This is why I dont go to hair dressers if I can avoid it… the inane chatter you are forced to put with… I have nothing against the hairdressers but simple fact is I am just not a chatty person… I don’t want to be rude but I don’t want to feel compelled to do forced chat either… I miss an old hair dresser I had it was in and out with him no need for forced banter and he did a really good job… *sigh* …. but seriously her accent cant be that bad or maybe I am just used to people with accents….

  13. Is that the best prediction you can come up with? It’s not even R-rated!

  14. Here’s a revolutionary idea – tell her you dont understand a word she’s saying & politely ask her to repeat it – one of two things’ll happen –
    1. she speaks more clearly & you might actually understand what she’s saying
    2. You ask her to repeat what she’s saying so many times, that she decides you might be a bit slow & stops talking as much.
    This always works for me…end result is usually the second outcome which works for me because I dont like talking to people.

  15. to spaceman: way to be racist and stereotypical. why would she want to converse with someone in english if she doesn’t understand the language?

    to stephan: ive definitely had those moments with a friend of mine who has a thick mexican accent. maybe you should ask her to repeat certain things she says. you’ll eventually be able to learn the way she says certain words and you’ll get used to her accent.

  16. My wife cuts my hair and I don’t understand anything she says. She has lived here all her life. It’s a man problem.

  17. “Let Saigons be Saigons”

    For real? That’s your title?

    I think that a Vietnamese Rat should kick your ass for that bad pun.

  18. To Stephanie: In what way is it racist and stereotypical to suggest that Stephan is incomprehensible even in his native tongue?

  19. I used to have a deaf barber. She cut my hair way shorter than I wanted. It turned out okay though. I visited my ex-girlfriend, we got drunk at a hockey game and we came home and she cut all my hair. That was 12 years ago. I now shave my head. The moral of this story is things work out in the end, although in the case of a bad haircut, it can take awhile.

  20. HA! Richard, my wife used to cut my hair. I now shave my head too.

  21. I feign a nap during a haircut. *Really* cuts down on the chatter, but I’m constantly surprised by the new haircuts.

  22. The only thing worse than a chatty hairdresser is a dental hygenist who expects you to hold up your end of the conversation.

  23. I don’t feel comfortable with your exploitation of an immigrant woman as the basis of blog-humor.

    You need to take her out to dinner to balance your karma. Preferably Vietnamese.

  24. …all kidding aside, notes in passing.

    a) the search-engine on this thing sucks. I have yet to actually find any blog-posts about anything that I’ve put into the search box.

    b) “stalking” is a state of mind, not a state of being. It’s more worrisome that CS would go to the same diner on a given day for decades, than you would go there once to meet him and talk to him about cartooning (which says something about the assumptions that people make in life). Unless of course you thought that you two were meant to share your lives together, or something like that.

    Which makes me wonder how you became a lawyer in the first place when your true passion was cartooning…why, *how* the hell did you put yourself through college not to mention law school, the bar and 9 years of practice if all you really want to do is draw cartoons (and take your shirt off in public ;)?

    If there’s anything “scary” about you, that’s what it is. You sound psychotic, honestly. Not saying that I have a problem with that 😉 just noting it objectively.


  25. Hi Stephen, sorry for my ignorance but i just found out about Pearls before Swine and I really love the comics – I read them until 3am last night and ended up snorting and stifling my laughter so I wouldn’t wake my roommates up. Just got back from college, and I find myself reading them again. 😀 Please don’t stop drawing; they’re great and I’m sure they bring joy into many people’s lives!

  26. I messed up one day at a Vietnamese Restaurant called “Little Saigon”. I asked, “Is that like Ho Chi Minh City”? The South Korean women used to massage your back & crack your neck, after cutting your hair.

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