Why Every Man Should Go To A Barber Shop
A barber knows how to cut a man’s hair. If you’re like most men these days, you’re probably going to some unisex chain salon like Supercuts. I used to do it too. Most of the time, I’d walk out of these places with a crappy haircut. Sometimes, my haircut would look decent for the first week or so, but then it would grow out into a horrible bowl.
The problem is that many of the people who work at salons are not trained barbers. They’re cosmetologists. The difference between the two can spell the difference between a dopey-looking haircut and a great one.
A barber is trained to cut with clippers, the main tool in cutting a man’s hair. Cosmetologists, on the other hand, are trained to use scissors. Their training is also geared towards catering to women’s hair. They become experts in styling, coloring, and perming- things a man has no need for. That’s why when you ask the cute stylist at SuperCuts to use the number 2 on the clippers, you walk away with a bad haircut. She’s probably not well versed in how to use them. But a barber can employ the clippers with finesse.
It’s a great place to chew the fat with other men. When I went to hair stylists, I hardly ever talked to the woman who cut my hair. I’d chat about my family and theirs and that’s about it. The woman who cut my hair usually ended up chatting it with the other women in the salon, while I sat there awkwardly.
Barbers, on the other hand, are interesting guys with interesting stories to tell. On my visits to the barber shop, I’ve met a retried Army Ranger colonel, a musician who spent 13 years on the road in a jazz band, and a man who is the third generation in his family to take up the profession. Each of them had fascinating stories to share. And I in turn feel at ease to say what’s on my mind. There is conversation about politics, cars, sports, and family. Guys read the newspaper and comment on current events. In between the banter, jokes are told and laughs are had. And everyone is involved: the barbers, the customers getting their haircut, and the customers waiting to get their haircut. Adding to the enjoyment is that a variety of men take part in the conversation; young, old, and middle-aged join in the mix.
I think there’s a good argument that barbershops are among America’s last civic forums Where do people go today just to talk with others in the community? Coffee shops? Every time I go to a coffee shop, people are at their own tables minding their own business. The only other place that I can think of is a bar, but bars are now co-ed instead of being bastions of manliness. Graduate student, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, wrote an article about how discussions in traditionally black barbershops shape political ideas in the African-American community. She noted how political debate in barbershops can be vigorous and engages young and old alike. Unfortunately, white Americans are missing out on this experience. So, if you’re wanting to get your thumb on the pulse of civic life in your community, head over to the barbershop.
You can get a great shave. Many barbershops still give traditional single blade razor shaves. You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the pleasures of a great shave at a barber. This past weekend, I went to a barber here in town to get a shave. I reclined in the plush old school barber chairs that had ash trays in the arm rests, a throw back to a time when people could smoke in public places. Then my shave commenced. The barber first wrapped a hot towel around my face. Next, the barber massaged in a lemon based cream to clean out my pores.
After that, several more hot towels were applied. By then, I was feeling nice and relaxed, on the verge of falling asleep relaxed. The barber then massaged in some cocoa butter to soften my beard. Next, the barber brushed a warm lather into my beard that smelled like man and not like that crappy artificial goo you buy in a can. The barber then took a piece of razor sharp metal and scraped my beard off for the closest, best shave I’ve ever had. Allowing another man to hold a razor to your neck is a good way to remind yourself that you’re alive.
To finish it all off, I got another hot towel wrapped on my face along with a final face massage with a soothing vanishing cream. When I stepped out of the shop, I felt like a new man, ready to take on the world.
It’s a great activity to do with your father or son. Men need traditions that can help bond them together. Visiting the barbershop with your father or son is a great tradition to begin in your family. Many men have been going to the same barber all their life and have introduced their sons to the same chair and the same barber. What a great way to bond with the men in your life!
You’ll feel manlier. Every time I go to the barber shop I just feel manlier. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps it’s the combination of the smell of hair tonics and the all-man atmosphere. But more so, it’s the awareness of the tradition of barbershops. Barbershops are places of continuity; they don’t change with the shifts in culture. The places and barbers look the same as they did when your dad got his hair cut. It’s a straightforward experience with none of the foofoo accouterments of the modern age. There are no waxings, facials, highlights, or appointments. Just great haircuts and great conversation.
When you walk out of the barber shop with a sharp haircut, you can’t help but feel a bit of manly swagger creep into your step. So next time you spot that familiar red and white striped pole, stop in. You’ll be glad you did.