I have a problem. I’m a guy. And, like most men, I don’t always know what I want. Thank God for women; they always ask us that basic question, “What do you want?” If they didn’t, we’d always be breaking hearts, contracts, agreements and every guy would be that guy.
To illustrate our handicap of not always knowing what we want, I give you today’s drama tale. It will seem like a big or small happenstance to some, and tragic or stupid to many. But throughout the whole morning I felt like I was in danger of eternal mortal pain until I asked myself that basic question, “What do I want?”
This morning I got an email from a wedding coordinator who, every year, books me as a hairdresser for a few weddings. She’s one of the best. She screens her clients and matches them with the right service people and it’s easy and usually fun for me. The wedding coordinator and I are also friends.
The email contained a revised contract that I had sent the bride about my pricing and what she could expect from me. I didn’t read the whole returned contract when I opened up the document, all I saw was two lines in red (there may have been more) that the bride had added. One of the sentences stated that if, for any reason, I could not make my commitment to her and her three bridesmaids, then it would be my job to make sure she had an adequate back-up hairdresser. (Like I knew someone as good a me?! NOT.) The second point changed was that she was going to include the “pre-trial-run” of her hair in the pricing package that I was offering. Not an excessive or unreasonable request from a bride, I must admit.
I wish I would have just emailed my friend back that I simply did not accept revisions and that would have been the end of that. But before the emails started going back and forth between me and my friend, the wedding coordinator, I thought about the bride: this is the girl’s first wedding and she’s probably a lawyer. And it was that thought alone that began my stress-out.
I immediately wanted to back out of the wedding. Because of the changes in the simple contract, I felt dis-trusted, and yet the bride was obviously trying to cover herself. And furthermore I immediately judged her for being young and therefore trying to control every part of “her day,” which goes against my airy-fairy way of doing things; I’ve become a guy who goes by his instincts and trusts everyone to do what they’re supposed to do and I believe the universe will take care of the rest. In my mind, I pictured the bride micro-managing the day of the wedding and watching the clock and telling me how to put every hair on her head as well as her mother’s and her bridesmaids. By neck was in knots just thinking about it.
I had all sorts of scenarios frightening me in my imagination of who this bride was or wasn’t, and I didn’t like any of them. So I smoked a cigarette. I worked out. I ate a hamburger. And I painted the trim in one of my apartment bathrooms. But my morning dragged-on, dreading negotiating with this bride, or worse, telling the coordinator that I didn’t want to do this wedding. Not only did I agonize over the bride’s feelings, her requests and the impending negotiations I had heartfelt-obligations to the coordinator; I could damage the relationship between me and my wedding coordinator friend (at least the professional one).
And then I asked myself the question: “What is it that I want?” How I learned this secret to inner peace was from my women clients. They are always blustering about how their relationships with men are so hard because men don’t know what they want. Whether it is a love-partner, friend, or business associate, when their men get quiet and pull back, or when the men just up and walk away from situations, get angry all the time, or drink more or just begin to respond inappropriately or differently than they used to, then the man has “an issue.” Not all women have the maturity or the self-assuredness to understand that it’s not about them. But most women know to (sometimes) leave the man to himself for a while, and yet all women know how to cajole, badger, taunt, beg, plead and then ask the question, “What is it that you want?”
When I asked myself the question, at first the answer was not as loud and clear as I would have liked. The voice in my head said, “I simply just don’t want to do this wedding.” I didn’t feel comfortable with this bride whom I had yet not met and the red flags that her changes to my contract signaled scared me. Again, I’m a gut-instinct guy. And that might be a legitimate enough business reason to back out of a job. But thinking about the big picture of the question it became apparent that I also had “an issue.” I began to think that this wasn’t my about weddings or brides or contracts. After beating my head against the wall a couple of more times I realized that I really didn’t want to give up a Saturday and do another wedding for someone I didn’t know. (‘been doing this for over 30 years…) It used to be fun and the money was okay. But I’ve begun to like writing on Saturdays more than weddings. And if I do hair on the weekends I’d prefer working in the salon on my clients who have become my friends. Hmmm. I don’t like doing weddings anymore!
Not a big epiphany but I didn’t know that I felt way about my work schedule or weddings. I didn’t know what I wanted or I didn’t want… Sound familiar ladies?
Well I emailed my friend and I backed out of that wedding and now I’m retiring from doing any. So, to anyone reading this, “you can’t pay me enough—unless I already know you!” And I don’t feel too bad about cancelling that wedding because the bride has three months to find a hairdresser. By the way she re-worded my contract; I have a feeling that she’s already got a back-up in mind. And, guess what?: she’s a lawyer!
My friend let me off the hook, but not without telling me first that this original email was already 3 weeks old and that was bad of me. Of course I felt bad about that. Three week just shows you how I don’t take care of the business of my business end of things… sometimes. And then again, if I was consciously or unconsciously avoiding that email for three weeks, my wedding coordinator should have known something was up and that I had “an issue.” She should have asked me the question.