======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ==== ======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ====
A few weeks ago, I made a lifestyle change involving a new hairstyle. The previous seven years of my life, I went simple and clean with a 1-1/2 blade all the way around. I was a fan of the low maintenance involved with such a haircut because for the first two weeks I could roll out of bed with zero bedhead. The new style involves a bit more tending to but thus far, I am really enjoying the new look. My barber has installed a new confidence in me. I say all of this because when it came up in conversation, I’ve discovered some friends near and dear to my heart have yet to experience the finer things in life am actual barber has to offer. These poor schmucks are still getting groomed at big-name hair salons every three to four weeks. They know not the special bond between a man and his barber.
Haircuts can be a pain in the ass. You walk in, try to explain what you want, the stylist tries to interpret your gibberish, and then you fake a smile and lie to them when they ask if you like it. I’ve been there before. My work involves some level of traveling so occasionally, I have to bite the bullet and get a haircut from some stranger. With my barber, Kate, the results are consistent. She has been cutting my hair for over four years now. Ever since my wife and I moved to our first apartment, I’ve been visiting her. I’ve followed her through three different salons across that time period. Each time I go to see her, I know I am getting quality service. Walking into some of these larger chains, you never know who you’re going to get. As you establish a working relationship with a barber, you put more trust in them to know what you like so if you switch up styles, you know they are going to take care of you and make you look fresh.
“Awkward” is the one word I would use to describe the haircut experience to someone from another planet. We’ve all had awkward small talk before, but when you are sitting there getting your haircut, any awkwardness is magnified ten-fold. You are completely immobilized as a stranger operates sharp tools around your neck, face, and head. That sounds like a horror movie. When you are visiting the same person every few weeks, you get to know each other. There are no more introductions, small talk, and long silences. You pick up right where you left off. The conversation goes from “So, what do you do for work?” to “How is work going? I remember you telling me it was slow for a while there.” Or “Oh you’re married? Do you have any kids?” to “What are you and Mrs. Cush doing for the holidays? My boss is shutting the shop down for a few extra days around Christmas, so Nate and I are headed to Vermont to visit my parents!” It becomes a working relationship and you catch up on one another’s lives every visit.
People often go to the bigger places because of the price. Sure, the basic services are cheaper on paper, but you get what you pay for. If I want a shampoo, that’s an extra $5 bucks. If I want my eyebrows cleaned up, that’s extra as well. After is all is said and done, an actual barber is not that much more expensive, and I am getting a hell of a lot more out of it. The latest trend at barber shops is to provide booze complimentary with your haircut. I’m not sure what sparked this but it seems like everywhere is doing it now. For $30, I am getting a cut, shampoo, scalp massage, eyebrows trimmed, a warm towel finish, and two fingers of scotch to sip on during my haircut. I’ve yet to come across a location where the big guys are handing out liquor with your $18 haircut. Licensed barbers can also use straight razors, and there is no substitute for that feeling of clean necklines completely free of hair.
Guys get a lot of slack for not taking care of themselves, and rightfully so. We eat a lot and drink even more. Physique issues aside, the least we can do is be well groomed. But apparently, a lot of you are still out there getting bargain haircuts. It’s time to grow up. Do yourself a favor and start going steady with a barber — you won’t regret it. .