Hair inspires such creativity in the naming of emporiums that glorify it.
You have your Hairports and Hair Affairs and Hair Apparents. You have your Cutting Edges and Mane-streets and Mane Events, your Head Offices and Shear Talents and Wave Reviews.
Back in the days of tail fins on cars, my dad would hand me a dollar for a haircut. That meant only one thing — going a couple of blocks out of my way on the way home from school.
Yes, Virginia, kids used to walk to and from school, although I won’t claim it was 10 miles as my parents insisted was their experience.
And their parents no doubt faced a 20 mile daily hike over rutted roads and gopher-hole infested pastures, not to mention the daily blizzards in winter and twice daily tornadoes in spring.
For me, it was only a single mile, largely free of evildoers lurking under every signpost. Those were more innocent times, or so it seems now, through the fog of days.
Once a month or so, with dollar in hand, I would stop at Joe’s Barber Shop. I should mention that there were two Joes at Joe’s Barber Shop. There was Joe, the proprietor, and Joe, the other guy. It was kind of hard to tell them apart even though they weren’t related.
They even had the same repartee, along the lines of, “Hey kid, what’s new?” and “What’s new with you, kid?” They were both fast, too. If a hair cut took more than 10 minutes, it could only mean there had been some arguing about the relative merits of Mickey Mantle over Roger Maris.
Joe had scissors but his weapon of choice was the electric shears. Buzz, buzz, buzz and in no time I was back on my feet, a pretty good subject, if a little young, for a Marines’ recruitment poster.
I don’t recall Joe ever asking me how I wanted my hair cut. He was the barber, after all. Joe could deliver three types of cuts: real short, a lot shorter and cue ball simulation.
After the ceremonial patting on of witch hazel, Joe the proprietor or Joe the other guy would whip the cape off his young victim and declare, “Looks good! Tell your old man I said hello. OK, kid?”
It had to be OK. Any complaints about the shearing being overdone would not have been believed — not by Joe (“It’s nearly summer, kid. Your head’ll stay cool this way”) and not by my dad, who played poker with Joe the proprietor on Saturdays, and therefore considered him an all right guy.
Michael Gillgannon is the former news editor of The Western Producer and managing editor of Western People. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org