I like my hair stylist. Unlike other stylists I've had in other parts of North America, he is somewhat introspective and talks sparingly. I like that. Plus, he is quick and fantastically accurate with his free hand cutting or 'precision cuts', as he refers to them. Guy knows how to measure length with his eye. In a mere 30 minutes he can produce a perfectly executed cut and he never makes you wait. A 2:00pm appointment means exactly that and at 2:30 you're free to resume your day. A man after my own heart.
Today, as he was educating me on the merits of a well-cut bob and why it's a good choice for certain face shapes, he noted that he finds it curious that I tend to answer his questions with questions.
I got a kick out of his observation as, well, he was right.
"What do you mean?" I added cheekily.
As he was working on his precision cut, I got to thinking more about his observation. The act of question acting is not just directly related to information gathering. Quite often, we ask for the purpose of evading additional questions we might be asked which we might be uncomfortable discussing or simply unwilling to entertain. Question-asking as a way of addressing a received question creates a space of comfort, a space in which attention can be shifted to other targets. I suppose that's why we have idioms like, "well, I asked you first." The idiom is not necessarily an infantile evasion as there's some etiquette-informed truth to it. Hierarchy matters in language and s/he who asks first needs to have first pick.
Certain spaces create better arenas of information gathering than others. Hair salons are one such space. I wondered why that was so today and I came to the same conclusion I've come to in the past. Aesthetic topics serve a litany of functions, a couple of which are the bringing forth of distractions and creating a venue in which to discuss substance. Aesthetics, as it benefits the self, helps lower one's guard and it ends up making one feel more at ease, more approachable linguistically.
And might even dare to answer a question in anything but the interrogative.
"So, how do you like your place?"
Instead of pulling an oldie but a goodie, "Yeah, yours is a short walk from here, right? The city smells great in the Spring, eh?"
I simply said, "I like it when I'm in it which is not a whole lot of the time." I wanted to add, "What about you?" You like yours"..., but I didn't.
I suppose, it's okay to answer certain questions when asked first whether one's getting a precision haircut or not.