A Real Barbershop

When I was a kid, going to the barbershop was a special occasion. Opening the door and walking past the red and white striped pole was like entering a secret and forbidden temple; a universe where old men gathered to talk about politics and women and complain about how things were never as good as they used to be.

I marvelled at the man in the white apron as he swiped his razor across the leather belt, honing the blade to deadly sharpness before shaving off the whiskers of one of the neighborhood men in deft strokes of his wrist. His name was Louie, and all over town the name "Louie the Barber" was spoken with respect and a sense of reverence.
When Louie called you over to his chair it was like being summoned to the altar of a high priest. You carefully hoisted yourself up onto the hulking chair, an enormous throne with enough chrome embellishments to make a '57 Cadillac red with envy. You sat upon the brown leather seat and gazed out over the sea of old men, the glare from the sun shining off of their bald crowns. They would wink at you, saying something like "you better not squirm, kid, or Louie just might cut your ear off". You knew they were only joking, or maybe just trying to scare you, but you laughed it off because you knew that it was just a test, just an initiation into this great fraternity of men.

Louie fastened the paper strip around your neck and buttoned on your cape, and on your high throne of leather and chrome you felt like you were wearing the vestments of some very powerful religion, about to take part in a timeless tradition.

The best part of the haircut was Louie's witty remarks. "You better buy yourself a stick to keep all the girls away," he would say with a wink and a nudge. He would then proceed to ask me about my wife and kids, and being a ten-year-old kid myself, I would laugh at the absurdity of his remarks. Then came the crowning moment; Louie would lather your neck with hot white shaving cream, and then with his gleaming blade of steel, he would shave your neck; the Holy Communion of the barbershop ritual. "You look like a new man," he would say with great aplomb, "your wife won't even recognize you when you get home!"

Like most men, these holy temples of manhood held an important place in our lives. They were a gathering place where everyone knew your name, and the haircut you recieved paled in significance to the experience of being around wise old men who told tales of the olden days; barbershop philosophers who always had a story to tell.

Well, at Lance's Barber Style, these are the good old days. See you when you get here.


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