I go to a sport-themed barber shop these days where all the haircutters are women. Can’t hardly find a lonely-hermit, old-timer still hanging his barber pole outside a run-down storefront. When I was a kid, it was a man’s world, a chance for a guy to read a fishing magazine, maybe josh with a buddy and hear a stale joke before ‘getting his ears lowered.’
My current tonsorial parlor is themed like a locker room…sort of. And all the haircutters are women (in a locker room?) And you don’t just drop in and wait your turn, you’re expected to call ahead and reserve your turn for the soothing ministrations by the female staff who run to young and seemly. Then if you pay a little extra, your lady will take you to a darkened cove for a warm-water shampoo and scalp massage. Huh! Well, I can go with the flow. In fact, I have my own favorite stylist, Crista. She really knows how to make a guy feel special by her easy patter and deep throaty laugh at my favorite jokes.
A couple problems though. One, even though I reserve a time, which is posted on a computer read-out next to the cash register, Crista seems to take longer than the other stylists which means I end up waiting in the bullpen watching her tease and flirt with the guy ahead of me. I hate waiting. Two, I feel betrayed. I thought she only laughed at my jokes.
The other thing about this setup is that a guy can feel like he’s landed in a girl’s dorm or sorority house. The ladies all carry on an active dialogue…listening, adding comments, laughing. I guess that much is the same as my old barbershop where baseball scores and horse race results bounce between the barbers while the customer is left an outsider-eavesdropper. But this one time, Crista grabbed her cell mumbling, “Uh-huh…Uh-huh,” and the place went quiet. When she picked up her shears again, you could hear a hair drop. Apparently, all the ladies were tuned in to a real-life soap opera. Something, not nice, had happened to their friend. Soon the clippers and hairdryers were buzzing and the background noise was back in play. And before I knew it, Crista had wrapped up my time in the chair. As we walked to the register, she tugged my sleeve. I turned.
“Give me a hug,” she said.
That’s one more thing that would never have happened in my neighborhood barbershop.
Retired trainer, and writing instructor, Joe Novara lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Writings include novels, short stories, a memoir and various poems, plays, anthologies and articles. Read more at https://freefloatingstories.wordpress.com/