Four decades ago, when a woman (my mom) was still telling me when and how to wear my hair, I took a twice-monthly trip to the barber shop, where a guy in a white smock would stand over me with a comb and scissors and chat about stuff like baseball, meatballs and hunting. After a little while, he would dust my neck with smelly powder, take off the cape and hand me a mirror. I was supposed to use the mirror on the wall and the one in my hand to evaluate the back of my head, to register any adjustments I might want him to make. I just wanted out of there. I didn’t care about the state of my haircut back then. I hated haircuts. I wanted my hair long, like the Beatles. But in those rarified days, hair was political. A guy wearing his hair long was making a political, or at least philosophical statement.
By the time I could make my own decisions about grooming, I found myself in styling salons, where the stylists were always women, and the environment was decidedly different. Gone were the copies of Esquire, True and Playboy. Instead, there were magazines about celebrity gossip and fashion. And there was all this product everywhere. But they understood how I wanted my hair. Barbers cut hair two or three ways, period – short, shorter or buzzcut.
These days, barbers are more flexible, but the idea is still the same. A barber shop is where men go to get their hair cut. The magazines are still the same. And the hair is still cut short. There are three barber shops in Martinez, so plenty of guys are still climbing into the chairs, chatting about baseball and boxing, and emerging with short hair and a slight scent of talcum.
Do you still go to the barber shop? If so, do you go to Carl’s, MVP or the Barber Pole? Or is there another one we’re missing? If so, tell us in the comments.