We have visited three barbers since moving to NY in order to get my six year old son’s hair cut. He is very particular in that he does not want one single hair on his head to be sticking up, ever. The first thing that he does every morning is run to the bathroom and put water on his head to flatten it all out. I think that this stems from comments from his preschool teacher on his hair sticking up, despite the fact that she told him that it was cute. If I had to guess, he will never have a hair cut ala Billy Idol.
The first barber we visited was in Cutchogue. She was good and she shaved the back of his head super short. He hated it there because there were a lot of people waiting for a haircut when we went to leave. He hates people seeing his hair when it is just cut. So the fact that all these people saw him freshly shorn, well that was the last time we were allowed to go there.
Next we tried to go someplace a bit closer to home. There are two barbers in Greenport. I told him that he could choose the one to go to. He chose the one on Main Street with the army memorabilia in the window. The shop itself is singularly unappealing; there is one grimy chair in the place; AM talk radio is tuned in. The wall closest to the old army helmets in the window has newspaper front pages taped up on it. One depicts rows of men worshiping; the clipping has written on it, “enemies of America.” When we visited this barber there was no small talk. The only exchange we had was regarding my son’s hair cut (“cut it regular?”) and maybe about the cost. The entire time I was there I felt like he had labeled me a liberal Obama lover but not in a good way. It was a very strange dynamic. Like he couldn’t wait for me to leave or maybe didn’t want me there. I decided that I really did not want to give my money to this guy. Of course my son loved him. Unfortunately, his haircut was almost spectacularly bad. It was all fine except for the bangs which the barber seemed to have cut with his eyes closed. They were uneven and kind of awful. We needed to move on.
Today, we tried the other barber in town. It turns out that it was a place run by this immaculate Hispanic man. He was wearing a button down shirt and slacks and had a fabulous moustache. I told him about my son’s bad haircut and he asked if he had given it to him. I said no of course not. The shop was so much cleaner than the scary barber’s shop as to be incomparable. There was a giant flat screen TV on the wall with the local Spanish station on. For the quickness and sloppiness of the scary barbers’ haircut, this gentleman was exactly the opposite. He took his time. He made a point to use the comb out of the sanitizing stuff on my son’s head. He replaced the blade in the straight razor when he used it. He was meticulous and the haircut took forever. He is the Pamela of barbers (see post “Superficial Concerns for more information on Pamela). My son’s hair looks fab-u-lous and I for one would like to visit him in the future if we need another cut. My son’s only complaint was that it took too long.
I was thinking about the differences between these two barbers. I was thinking that the scary barber would likely not like my Hispanic barber for no good reason. I was thinking that the Hispanic barber was so much more professional, friendly and clean than the scary barber. His shop had that real barber shop feel to it, like a community, while the scary barber’s place felt like it was an exclusive club and if you were not a member the welcome mat was rolled in. The best part about today was that my son and I were immediately a part of that barber shop community just by walking through the door; an open door philosophy that if used more often would likely make the world a better place.