When you think of a barbershop, what images pop into your head? Do you think of a spinning pole with the iconic colors inviting you in for a trim and a shave? Racks of 6 month old Sports Illustrated waiting to have the pages turned with no reading involved simply because they happen to be available?
The traditional barbershop is dead. I'm not downtrodden about this in the least. I have no desire to hang out with a bunch of other dudes I don't know and shoot the shit about the days events while waiting to have my hair cut. I'm a modern man that doesn't want to talk to anyone or be talked to while I get my modest follicles removed from my cranium. Call it what you will (introverted, shy, stuck up, snooty, dick) but I like to walk into the barbershop, give them my order, and get it done.
I may be complicated but I want the feeling of nostalgia that comes from the barbershop without the interaction involved with the classic barbershop. This is a simple list of things I want from my barber shop:
(1) A TV that is playing something that I want to watch
(2) A barber (not a stylist) who asks me what I want done and then asks questions before providing the service to clarify my request. This is not a gender biased statement. A barber can be a woman and a stylist can be a man. A stylist will offer suggestions, saying things like "you should consider growing out your hair to give it more body" or "have you ever considered Rogaine combined with protein packs to give you more bounce and allow you to have more play with your style"? I don't need that. I'm nearly bald and I'm fine with that. Be a barber, listen to what I want, then do it. I don't want your suggestions.
(3) The barber shop must offer a beard trim. My beard is part of my head and is also a vital part of my style. Without a beard I would appear to be a 15-year old boy. This becomes really sad for said 15-year old boy when he discovers he is prematurely bald and is mocked by the bullies at school.
I need a professional from time to time to keep my beard properly shaped. As I have been bearded for over 15 years I am quite good at maintaining a proper length of facial hair. I do, however, like a professional to give my face a once over from time to time.
And barber (yes, I'm talking directly to the barber), I have a beard. I don't have a five o'clock shadow, or a mustache, or a soul patch. Don't shave my face and call it a beard trim. If I wanted people to see the skin around my lips and jawline I would shave myself, thank you very much.
(4) The barber shop must offer a shave. This is where my nostalgia comes into play. There is nothing quite as relaxing as leaning back in a chair with some hot lather covering your face and the feel of a straight razor slowly slicing away those pesky neck hairs. After the shave, clean my face with a warm towel and apply some aftershave.
This is a list of things I don't want from a barber shop:
(1) Talking. I don't want to tell you about my day. I don't want to chitchat about the weather. We both know that you don't give two shits about where I work or if I'm from the area. You really don't want to know and I really don't want to tell you. And I don't care that your left foot hurts because you were out jogging and a deer crashed into you while you were rocking out the Ke$ha. I want to sit in silence and watch a baseball game while you use the number 2 clipper guard across my entire dome-piece.
(2) Product. I don't really know when we as a people decided that goop we put in our hair should be deemed product. Isn't every physical item purchased a product? No, only product is product. Anyway, do you see my head in the picture above? Do you think I need Vidal Sassoon to keep my flowing locks from blowing in the breeze? Those of you blessed to hair like Michael in The Peanut Butter Solution (after using the potion) won't know this, but there is "product" for bald guys. I swear to you that I have been offered bald head balm after more than one haircut. Because it isn't bad enough that I'm bald. Now you want to cause mass casualties by waxing up my head so the sun will reflect back into the sky bringing down overhead aircraft. I live near a major international airport so please be more thoughtful when offering "product" for my head.
(3) Massage. I was at a so-called barber shop about five years ago while living in Falls Church, VA. Things were going well. There had been no talking and my hair had been clipped to the appropriate length. There was no shave, but hey, I could live with that. Then, without request or offer, the barber began to massage my shoulders. It wasn't too bad but then it got weird. Her arms went down the neck hole of my shirt, massaging my back and shoulders directly. Skin to skin.
As we all know, I am working out to get in better shape, That does not prevent me from sweating. Like, a lot, and this day was no exception. So this person was sliding her fingers across the moisture covered skin that is my back as if I would appreciate the attention to detail. I am not paying for being molested and you should take a shower immediately after running your fingers across the Great Dismal Swamp that is my back during the summer (yes, I understand that is really gross).
If you are like me, fear not, because barber shops for us do exist. It only took me 35 years, 7 months, 20 days, 17 hours, 33 minutes, and 17 seconds to find one. Barber Lounge on Elden Street in Herndon, VA (no, I am not above plugging places and locations that I like. Maybe I can get some free shit). Barber Lounge gave me everything I wanted from my list, even the straight razor shave, and nothing from the list of things I don't want. Barber Lounge even went above and beyond my desires. Not only is there a TV playing something I want to watch; every booth has it's own TV. So I can watch Drop Dead Diva (shut up) without bothering the guy next to me watching the second round of the international snake charming championship on Fox Sports 1. Barber Lounge also uses a gown with a clear plastic window right around the crotch region. The more perverted of us are thinking about one reason for this, but the real reason is to provide the smartphone addicted customer the ability to catch up on Kim Kardashian's selfies and still keep the discarded follicles off their Haggar slacks. All for a steal at $28.
So thank you, Barber Lounge, for cutting my hair, trimming my beard, shaving my neck, and not talking to me.
P.S. To all those stylists out there in the world, I don't hate you. You have a very important place in the world providing a wonderful service to those who are folliclely challenged (bald is not politically correct). I just require your services in my barber shop. (See my head above)