The Joy of the Barber Shop

So I recently posted “the curse of the hairdresser” and some friends challenged me to write about the barber shop.

Once up on a time I never had control over how my hair was groomed. This was the period between 1980 and 1994 when my grooming was fully financed by my mother with her iron fist. At 14 she ‘allowed’ me to instruct the barber on how to cut my hair. I recall the regret and embarrassment I felt on going home with a “fade” only having to return to the barber for him to adjust it based on my mom’s specifications 😦

The years passed and I moved out and weaned myself off mom’s coffers. The barber shop experience for me is alot different from childhood and teen years. I enjoy my barber shop experience because it’s almost like a bar. It’s a great place to relax, take a load off, make new acquaintances, have spirited intelligent discussions, conduct business, expand network and so much more. All of this in a relatively short time. For us, the barber shop represents a place where you can get away without having to drink, especially during the middle of the hectic work day.

Just like women, men are loyal to their barbers. I’ve had only 3 barbers in 30 years. 1 in Westmoreland and the other 2 were recommended by very close friends upon my migration to Kingston. Would I use any others while in Kingston? Only if my current barbers die *knocking on wood*. Men don’t have to worry about the barber spoiling their hair as there’s usually a constant review of the progress from start to finish. I can hardly recall hearing a man say “u know say do barber spoil mi head today”

Rarely does a man have to spend more than an hour in a barber shop – that includes wait time and the actual grooming. Men (clients) and barbers seem to have a great respect for time. If make an appointment with my barber and arrive punctually, he won’t have anyone in the chair – rare exceptions exist. If I call on short notice he’ll advise me about the best time to come based on who’s now in the chair, who’s waiting and who he’s expecting. I plan my business to factor in a trip to the barber knowing it won’t be to the detriment of any other activity scheduled after the grooming session.

Men know we can take the wife/girlfriend or child to the barber shop and not inconvenience them or worry about what will be said there. For fathers and sons, the barber shop can be a real bonding experience.

As for the conversations in the barber shop the topics don’t vary much; sports, sex, relationships, the economy, world affairs and politics. There’s some amount of gossip, but it’s usually gossip everyone sees in media; rarely is it the personal type of “he said she said” bullshit.

In closing though, the real joy of the barber shop comes in that feeling of restored confidence that a fresh grooming brings. Men walk out of a barber shop feeling like a million bucks even if a mirror would point out their ogreish appearance. In a man’s mind after leaving the barber is the feeling that “I got my swag back”. He now walks with his head high, shoulders square, back straight and a pep in his step.

ahhh, the joy of the barber shop.


Published by Garth O. Williams

A seasoned journalist and communications practitioner; professional MC/moderator, voice-over actor and entrepreneur.

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