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Ah, the topknot. Commonly known as the “man-bun” when spotted on a male human, but I don’t think it’s necessary to gender a particular hairstyle—just “bun” also suffices. Its rise from relative obscurity as street fashion to a roundly-mocked mark of male hipsterhood was sudden and confusing. No one had a topknot, and then everyone had a topknot. I had a topknot. It’s very easy for a topknot to happen to you, all you have to do is fail to get a haircut for a few months and also dislike having hair hanging in your face.

It starts when you pull your overgrown hair into a stubby little bundle at the top of your head, secure it with a rubber band, and say to yourself, “man, I need a haircut.” But now it’s got you. Your hair isn’t in your face anymore, and you forget about it. It grows. It becomes stronger, and settles into itself. You begin to like your topknot, and become attached to it. “I’ll cut it at the end of the summer,” you say, feeling like the unbearable heat and smells of the summertime give you a free pass to look weird. The weeks pass. September comes and goes, and you have not had a haircut. You start to believe you are like Samson, and worry that if you cut it off you’ll lose all your power. You are unsure of what your power actually is, but if you can’t detect it now imagine how weak you’ll feel once it leaves you.

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Time passes. It’s mid-October. One morning you wake up feeling more clearheaded than you have in months, and look in the bathroom mirror and know that its grip on you has become too strong. It must go, now, before this clarity passes and you once again become complacent. You pick up the phone to make an appointment. Later, as the barber sweeps away your fallen chunks of hair, you hear them hiss. You shudder, knowing that this solution is temporary and that the topknot could return. But not for a while yet.

Anyway, here is a person I saw on the street in Chelsea who has been not once, but twice ensnared by the bun. I empathize, but at least his topknot and beardknot look well-groomed and not like he’s just forgotten to get a haircut since April. The smudgy eyeliner and long, starry nails would be interesting enough on their own (Khal Drogo anyone?), and I like the understated sweater he’s chosen to wear with them. Sometimes you don’t need to go full glitz just because you have exciting nail art and weird hair. Sometimes you just need to run some errands and take a selfie on a chilly October afternoon.

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