Just having returned from my assembly line style haircut at the salon in the local strip mall, I must stop for a few minutes to reflect on the old neighborhood barbershop. Up until recently I only frequented local establishments that had the same type of home town ambiance of Floyd’s shop in Mayberry.
Whether over in Rosedale near my work office or on the main street of Catonsville there still remained the traditional one man establishment with a TV blaring that was principally a hangout for the older men in the community. But these barber shops are a dying breed. My two sons steered me towards the more modern chains that crank out the numbers and offer a more diverse range of services. (I think they were more than a little put off by the informality and lack of sanitary conditions at one of the older dives.)
Although one can still find these old-fashioned barbershops from time to time, especially in smaller towns, much of the business has changed. Today, many shops employ hair stylists, not barbers. Sometimes these stylists are even female. You are as likely to see them using a hair blower and styling brush as the traditional scissors and comb. Some barbershops call themselves Uni-sex shops , meaning that they cater to women as well as men. There are even shops that provide manicures, facial treatments and massages for their male customers. What is this world coming to?
For me, a haircut was always the simplest of tasks. “Just shorten it up some and tidy me up.” No questions needed to be asked. I didn’t need to remember whether I wanted them to use a #1 or #2 or #3 or #4 or #5 razor attachment. I didn’t need to make tough decisions like whether I wanted the back to be “boxed” or “rounded” or “tapered” (I chose “tapered” today – not sure how consistent that is with past experience … I never was much for such details … got me in trouble a few months ago when I got accidentally buzzed). There weren’t a whole array of different styles to pick and choose from.
Now there are 4 different women working the many chairs – adding to the complexity and clutter of my life. I prefer the single owner-operator model where you always got the same old familiar face. I guess I could request Betty or Wilma (each stylist seems to have developed their own faithful following) … but I just take my chances with the next available chair and hope for the best.
I see that some areas of the country are attempting to recover the nostalgia of the old time experience.
Best of luck to them!