Friday, April 16, 2010

Two Bits

My father's Uncle Sal was a barber.  My father was sent to Uncle Sal's barber shop to learn the trade but he hated it.  Dad said Uncle Sal used to keep a stash of liquor in the basement and would offer his good customers a drink of whisky or grappa during prohibition.  He lived to 104 or 105.  Not to imply any correlation among these facts.

My Uncle Dom, dad's brother-in-law was also a barber.  I would go to his shop after school for a haircut.  I think Uncle Dom was a little bi-polar or would feign an ornery attitude when it served his purpose.  He had a dry, obtuse sense of humor and would delight in pulling one over on you.  Haircuts were seventy-five cents or a dollar back then.  Nothing fancy.  Just your basic cut.  Plus there was always the entertainment when I arrived - watching Uncle Dom sharpen his razors with shaving cream on the sharpening stone and finishing them on the leather strap.  It always seemed like a mysterious, meticulous process.  He never used a razor on me, of course.  I was still in peach fuzz.  Uncle Dom didn't live to 100 but some said he died with the first dollar he made.

I've only had three good haircuts in my life.  None were from Uncle Dom.  My hair does not lend itself to a style of any kind.  Most of the worst cuts were from students at some haircutting school or another, or a "stylist" at a haircutting factory like SuperCuts or CostCutters.  (Like the time the kid kept cutting and cutting until I finally said in a panic, "Stop, just stop."  And had to buy a ski hat against the Vermont winter wind.) The last good one was actually at a SuperCuts in St. Petersburg, FL a few weeks ago.  I'm sure it was because the stylist was a guy, family of course.  You don't see any guys working at SuperCuts in our town.  The other two decent outcomes were probably ten years apart.

So the price of a haircut at Supercuts is now $14.95 plus tip.  And that's for ten or fifteen minutes in the chair.  And they insist on using clippers, so it seems there's little skill involved.  I'd do it myself if I could see the back of my head.  They've gotcha there, don't they?

I know one of the reasons why cuts have gone up in price.  It's because of the "Bald Look" that has become so popular in recent years.  Guys used go to the shop to trim what little hair thay had and to do their best to make the comb-over look good.  Then bald became as in-style as ear piercing and tattoos.  Even guys with hair are shaving it all off - and doing it themselves.  Thus the loss of a significant customer base for hair stylists and barbers.  So they are just trying to make up for lost revenue, I guess.

But one of the nice things about small towns is that you can usually find a freelance barber or stylist and get a good (or at least a tolerable) haircut for ten bucks.  Went to one today.  Had it cut pretty short.  Leon hates it.  Mostly salt is showing now.  Leon used to say he liked my "Salt and Pepper", then one day he remarked, "you've got a lot more salt in your pepper."  Just for Men, see you in the morning.


  1. I can relate to this post too. My hair is quite wavy too when it grows out, so when long hair was the thing, it was always a nightmare trying to get a good haircut and keep it looking that way. Finally, many years later, I let my late husband give me a buzz cut, and OMG no fuss no muss and somehow it even made my ugly mug look better. If only I'd known that 40 years ago . . . so much for being a slave to fashion.

    Actually this makes me think of a lot of hair-related items, I should probly do a post of my own on that subject. But briefly, another reason haircuts were so cheap back in the day, we got them a lot more often. In the 60's my father, grandfather, and I used to go together to the barber shop on Saturday morning, every two weeks without fail, just like clockwork. Most other men did too, so the barbers could afford to charge only a buck a head (= $5 or $6 today).

  2. That looks good. I love salt. I love salt and pepper, I'm not all that big on pepper alone. That's just me. I hope my doctor doesn't put me on one of those low sodium diets....

    I get ok cuts now. I usually just ask whoever weilds the clippers to take it all off and then let it grow into something.

    I remember one super good cut I had in San Francisco--it was a friend of a friend and she was good, costly but good. I actually got a compliment walking down the street--I was going from the Eagle to the Lone Star and some guy yelled out "nice hair." I smiled and then ran away...

    I also remember a really bad one when the same friend took me to a place on the Haight and I paid some "stylist" $40 only to have her make me look like I just got out of bed....

  3. Oh, the joys and traumas of personal grooming!



Related Posts with Thumbnails