Chicago yawned its way out of its zoom sleep last week. Mayor Lightfoot cautiously moved the city through Phase Three of the reopening. The elated citizenry, with and without masks, piled up outdoors in restaurants, parks, sidewalks and in the streets. Nothing surprised me more than all the haircuts donned by my semi-quarantined zoom friends and dog-walking neighbors. Everytime I asked, “did you get a haircut?” I felt like I was accusing the person of a crime. And in turn, people responded defensively.
“I drove up to my hairdresser’s apartment,” one friend said, “but he wouldn’t cut my hair because my temperature was 100.”
“Your hairdresser took your temperature?”
Going to the barber or hairdresser with its face-to-face closeness has been cited as high risk for covid-19 exposure by some epidemiologists. But if barbers are taking temperatures, wearing masks and sanitizing the chair we plunk ourselves in, what’s the harm?
Surprise sightings on zoom chats accompanied by empty shutdown calendars have prompted much-needed connection to distant friends and those nearby I’ve not talked to in ages. At a newly reopened outdoor restaurant, I met a friend I’d not seen since she married, moved to the suburbs and had babies.
“Your hair is so long!” she said.
“I know. I’m not quite ready to go for a haircut. But when I do, it will be a short one.”
“Oh no, don’t get karen hair.”
She went on to tell me karen hair is a bob, cut shorter in the back with long straight sides.
“Karen is slang for an entitled, obnoxious, middle-aged white woman,” she said.
She plunged into Instagram on her iPhone to show me a Karens Go Wild site. A list of witnesses rolled by with photos and descriptions of “karens” asking to speak to the manager, which is a major part of the karen mien. Apparently karens complain about waitstaff or retail clerks as a matter of course. They often demand the firing of an employee for inconveniencing them. Some of the posts:
karen gives raisins to kids on Halloween
drives an SUV to carpool her kids to soccer practice… better hope the ref doesn’t make a wrong call because she will sue!
“oh my god Karen do you really have to talk to the Burger King manager every time they forget to give you a ketchup packet.“
You Tube has an array of karen videos titled, Karen Meltdown Compilation, Karen Armageddon, Karen Apocalypse, Karen Freakout and Top 5 Karens Getting Triggered. I must admit a few video anecdotes remind me of some of my most obnoxious moments. Like the time I refused any explanation from the building manager on incorrect charges added to my monthly condo fee. “Just fix it!” I growled as I careened out of the office.
Karen, a lovely name bestowed on some of my loveliest friends, is draped with this memed-out behavioral style because it’s so white, according to the Slang Dictionary.
I really need a haircut. But I’ll avoid the karen until throwing shade on her passes.