Now back when I was a kid, there weren’t no such thing as a hair stylist. We only had barbers, educated in barber school, wielding sharp pointy scissors and straight edge razors. Years later, a strange fellow with the mysterious monicker of “Mr G” would arrive on the scene and forever change the state of manly hair snipping in my home town.
Tom the Barber was a big fella. He was the only hair cutter that we knew of in my neighborhood, hence he was to define the coiffure of each and every kid that did not suffer the indignity of having his hair cut by mamma. His little shop was located directly across from Washburn’s Ice Cream Shop. So the reward for suffering through the hair cut was always offered in the form of some ice cream concoction.
If you were to imagine what a barber looked like back in the 60’s, I am pretty sure that the image of such a man would exactly match Tom the Barber. He was about six feet tall, shaped like a medium sized apple, had a handle bar mustache, and had a perfect part in his gray tinged hair. His costume was a white surgical looking gown or apron, making him appear to be a very precise and professional fellow indeed. The shop had a large spinning barber pole hanging from the side. Upon entry into the shop, you were greeted with various manly hunting and hot rod magazines, along with a couple of old farts smoking cigarettes. A visit to Tom the Barber was nothing to be trifled with, as you walked in a boy and left as a man, complete with a fresh straight razor shave and a liberal splash of Bay Rum on your cheeks.
I know what your thinkin’ “Why would a 10 year old kid need a shave?”. I didn’t, but it was part of the journey into manhood that only Tom could make happen, so he had to go through the motions. Later in life I would be forced to go through the humiliation of various and sundry stylists cutting my hair as the old barber shop was edged into the history books.
In the past few years, I have rediscovered the old barber shop as the source of hair cutting joy and manly conversation. It turns out that there is an entire subculture of old geezers that get their coifs done in barber shops, including senators and the POTUS hisself. The most wondrous part is – I just show up at pretty much any time, sit down in a waiting chair, pick up a hot rod magazine, and wait my turn. No call ahead appointments, old ladies complaining about the shade of blue that their hair has, or Cosmo magazines to deal with.
I am a new man! I have finally realized that I was making the same mistake as Samson when he let Delilah cut his hair. Look what happened to that poor bastard, SHEESH!!