… because I might change my mind.

NaBloPoMo 2010 Day 5 — Trip to the Barber Shop

So I went to the barber shop today. The same one that I’ve been going to since I was about 11. The barber shop itself has not really changed. Most of the barbers today are different from that first visit, but it’s the same barber shop for the most part because barber shops are all populated by the same characters. One barber who plays a character may move on, but he or she is replaced by the same sort of character to maintain the barber shop equilibrium.

The first thing I do as I approach the barber shop is assess how many cars are in the parking lot. The more cars, the longer I will be there. Duh. I was pleasantly surprised to see only a few cars there when I drove up. When I walked in, there were only three barbers working. Based on previous experience, I quickly assessed the situation. The closest chair to the door was open — which I thought odd, because that guy is ALWAYS there when I go in. He’s the resident racist barber. You know, the one who loves to tell jokes but whispers the racist punchline so as not to offend someone waiting who may sing in the church choir. (What about the guy whose hair you’re cutting, dude? Ever think maybe, I don’t want to be privy to your “wit?”) I stopped going to that guy years ago, so his absence was a non-starter.
The next chair was the resident woman barber. Every barber shop has one woman to cut the 2-year-old’s hair or in case Edith Bunker walks in and needs to get a trim while Archie enjoys the banter in chair no. 1. She was occupied, so I just sat and read the paper.
The last chair in the corner is reserved for the “new guy.” He remains the new guy until he quits or until someone newer comes along, and he can displace someone else to move “up” the row. I’ve been to this new guy before, but he had someone in his chair already. He’s decent, but he doesn’t have the years of experience that some of the others do.
In between the new guy and the woman is the resident old guy. He’s past his prime, but you can tell there was a time when he might’ve been the guy in a barber shop — although this old guy was never “the” guy in this shop. (I know; I’ve seen him age at this shop.) Now, he likes to talk as much as cut hair. Going with him is a crap shoot because if he’s really into talking, he loses focus on the actual hair cut.
Missing today are two folks — either of whom would be easy choices to see. One is the owner of the shop. He’s grown up here. He’s been cutting hair here about as long as I’ve been going, but he must’ve started right out of high school because he’s not 10 years older than I am. It’s Friday; the owner doesn’t work on Friday. That’s why he’s the owner.
The other missing guy is the guy I prefer when I’m there. He’s good with both the clippers and a pair of scissors. A marriage of those barber skills is not as common as one might think. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’ve had the same haircut for the last 25+ years (except for my mullet period(s) from various parts of 1986-90. Sue me, I played soccer in high school and college; the mullet was part of the uniform.). That cut requires the #2 blade on the clippers and a little work with the scissors to thin out the top. (At my age, I’m somewhat happy to report that I have enough hair on top to pay someone to thin it out.)
So as my luck would have it, old guy is the one who opened up first today. I just resigned myself to having to listen to whatever stream of consciousness he had to share today. Wow. Today included references to a new kitchen, a possible hunting trip this weekend, a stated preference not to bow hunt, a couple of cooking shows that he watches on the tube, his love of grilling with the underlying implication that I must as well given my maleness, and our shared dislike for driving on Barrett Parkway. I could tell as the cut went on that certain areas were not getting the requisite attention and that other areas had been clipped ad nauseum. Eventually, my time in the chair ended, and I paid the man and bid him a nice weekend.
When I got home and more closely inspected the cut, I was not surprised to see several areas where the #2 blade was not held closely enough to the side of my head to actually clip anything. Nothing I couldn’t fix with the trimmer I have at the house.
The moral of the story is to call ahead to make sure your guy is at the barber shop before you go.

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