They say the difference between a good haircut and a bad one is about two weeks: I will know in a few days. More on that later.
To me, getting a haircut has always rated right up there with paying taxes and going to the dentist. Not something I look forward to; just one of life’s little necessities.
I think women have always been a little smarter at the hair maintenance thing than their male counterparts. The longer hairstyle gives them more flexibility, no one really notices an extra inch or two of growth, and when it is time, they have always simply made an appointment and showed up at the scheduled time.
In today’s society the appointment thing is acceptable for men; hasn’t always been that way. Back in the day an appointment with a hairdresser would have been grounds to have your man card taken away. If you needed a haircut, by god, you went to the barbershop and waited your turn, even if you were there most of the day.
My earliest memories of barbershop visits were in the small community where I grew up. The barber was my best friend’s dad. He had a small shop and wasn’t very busy. There was usually a card game of some kind in progress (surely they weren’t playing for money) and sometimes Booger, his name was John but everyone called him Booger, seemed upset that you interrupted the card game for a haircut. You didn’t need to tell him what you had in mind, he only knew how to give one kind, whitewall the sides and take a little off the top.
Then he would rub on a double handful of Fitch’s Rose Hair oil. I think every barber in the free world used that stuff. The smart customers wore a red shirt, you sure didn’t want to wear white. On a hot summer day that stuff would soak a shirt, drip off your elbows and run all the way to your waist. In those days, haircuts were a quarter or fifty cents, most barbers had a second source of income, Booger made moonshine. I never had the opportunity to sample his, but I understand his moonshine was better than his haircuts.
My teen years were during the heyday of the flattop, the ducktail on the sides was a popular option. During the early years of the flattop not many barbers could do one right, and they didn’t do appointments so you had to go sit and wait. I either waited for Tom at the Cozy on West Main in Shawnee or for Herman at Hackett’s in Tecumseh, both those guys could do a flattop right. By this time a regular cut was a buck and a flattop was a buck and a quarter. While you waited at the Cozy a guy called Cinders would shine your shoes, I think he charged a quarter, he was as good at shining shoes as Tom was at giving flattops.
The late sixties and seventies saw much longer hairstyles and was not financially kind to the barber industry. I think a lot of those guys wished they knew how to make moonshine. It was also during this time that it became socially acceptable for a guy to make an appointment with a hairdresser. The only thing Sharyl knew about flattops was that she didn’t like them, but with the longer hair she could take a little off the top and trim the sides. She was my barber for several years and she rates in the top three or four that I have used.
About 1980 I found the perfect, for me, barber; his name was Doyle. He made appointments and kept them. I was always in the chair within 2 minutes of my appointment time, and after the first visit I didn’t need to tell him what to do. Unlike most barbers, Doyle didn’t initiate a lot of conversation, he just cut hair. It didn’t get any better than that, walk in sit down in his chair, exchange “how’s it goings” relax get my haircut the way I wanted it and walk out. The whole thing took about fifteen minutes. I used Doyle for a few years. Cancer took him much too soon. Rest in Peace Doyle, you were the best.
For a while, after Doyle, haircuts were kind of like dental visits if you need a root canal. Hairstyles eliminated Sharyl or maybe she thought I was too picky. I tried the wait your turn system again, I liked the barber and sometimes I got a good haircut. The quality seemed directly proportionate to the intensity of the political, religious, or football discussion at the time. Bottom line, I couldn’t handle the sit and wait system.
I gambled and went to the phone book. I found Linda. She made appointments and kind of kept them, at least it beat the wait your turn system and I liked her haircuts. We had enough common interests to support pleasant conversation during the 30 minute process. After we moved to Norman I continued to drive to Tecumseh for haircuts. I think I was more comfortable changing family doctors than changing barbers. A landlord/tenant issue forced Linda to move her shop to Shawnee and me to find a barber in Norman.
I found a little shop close to our house, the owner and one other barber. I have simplified my hairstyle, since what hasn’t turned loose has turned white, I wear what we call a short Caesar. It is kind of hard to screw it up in fact I thought it was impossible to screw it up. They do appointments but with my present lifestyle I don’t like to make them, I just check the parking lot and stop when they aren’t busy. The owner cuts it occasionally but I usually use the other barber. I have used Laura, Wendy, and now Brandi; I hope Brandi stays a long time I like her haircuts and we have enough common interests for pleasant conversation.
Paragraph one continued.
About 10 days ago I stuck my head in the door, Brandi had someone in her chair, she said give me a couple minutes. I can wait that long, just as I was sitting in her chair a guy came in. Brandi didn’t realize the time; he had an appointment. Suzi (the owner) was doing a major overhaul on a lady. Between Brandi and Suzi was a third barber. Suzi said “let her do Dave”, I was OK with that, and anyone can do a short Caesar, right? The very young lady seemed a little nervous, I would tell you her name but she didn’t tell me, in fact she didn’t say anything. I looked at her license but it wasn’t a license. It was a permit, Suzi occasionally works with a vo-tech to give some kids a little practical experience. I assumed they did this practical experience thing during the latter stages of the vo-tech course; I now believe they do it the first week or maybe the first day.
She was very nervous and completely unsure of herself. I quickly became nervous and unsure of her abilities. I kept my cool, we kept some lighthearted conversation going with the lady in Suzi’s chair and Brandi. Suzi gave my barber a crash course in haircutting 101 and Suzi isn’t the most patient or diplomatic person I have encountered.
I left with a short Caesar, albeit a little shorter on one side than the other and we don’t usually do that 2 inch gash up high on the left side. I think this one is going to need more than two weeks before we can call it a good haircut.
Maybe I’ll make an appointment with Brandi next time or maybe I’ll just see how much she improved in four weeks. I’m sure she is a sweet young lady and will make an excellent barber with a little more training and some experience. I will ask Brandi, but I kind of suspect I may have been her first customer, and we all had to start somewhere.
Thanks for reading what I write.
Good Night and God Bless.