Let me get this out there now; I hate the barbershop.
There are two types of barbershops in this world. Black barbershops, and others. Needless to say I get my haircut at the former. The Black barbershop isn’t exactly a place of business. It’s more of a social club. To the straight-haired passer-bys on the street it may seem mysterious and highly exclusive. It’s not. If you’ve ever been curious as to what goes on in there, I’ll tell you.
“In the Black barbershop the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups. The Barbers who cut the hair and the brothas who waste their days waiting for them. This is my story [dune dune].”
Having an appointment at a Black barbershop is the most frustrating aspect of getting my haircut. Mainly because I seem to be the only one that owns a damn watch. This past Saturday I made an appointment with my barber for 9:30AM. I always try to get the first appointment of the day. Not because the blades are fresh or I know my barber won’t be fatigued, but because if I let even one person get ahead of me I’m liable to be stuck at the shop for damn near 4 hours to get a 90 minute cut. I hate being late to anything. As MM will attest I usually like to leave absurdly early for any function that has a start time. Naturally I arrived at the barbershop 30 minutes early leaving me plenty of time to finish my coffee and read an article or two out of TIME magazine. As I shut off the car engine in front of the barbershop I received a text message from my barber telling me he was running late. Which is odd because he’s ALWAYS late. This is the first time he’s contacted me to tell me so. He’s never just 10 minutes late, or 15 minutes late, he’s LAPD late. The kind of late that makes you question, “Is he even coming?”
As I made it half way through my magazine I got the urge to get up and grab another cup a coffee. There’s a lot of things people in Los Angeles don’t do. Among them is use turn signals, or wake up before noon. The streets were practically empty. My walk down the block was peaceful and quiet with the occasional faint sound of shuffling behind me. As I walked a few blocks down to the convenience store I felt the hungry eyes of cheap beer and broken dreams upon me. The Real Hobos of Hollywood. I bought my $3 cup of coffee and paired it with a $2 bottle of water. Upon exiting the store I was greeted by a scene straight out of Thriller.
Derelicts of all shapes and sizes practically walked me back to my car. Invigorated by the cool morning air and smell of fresh coffee I decided to be the Warren Buffet of Bum Boulevard. I was handing out money like Oprah Winfrey. You get a dollar, you get a dollar, you get a dollar, everybody is getting dollars! By the time I reached the barbershop I barely had enough cash left to pay for my cut. This appointment was getting expensive and I still had not seen my barber yet. While waiting in my car AGAIN I noticed movement inside the shop. I was so excited I practically burned my esophagus trying to down my coffee. It must have been rust flavored. A rust roast perhaps. There’s no way the coffee tasted that horrible by accident. I fed the parking meter AGAIN and gleefully stepped into the shop at 10:18. He wasn’t there. Instead it was one of the other barbers. The female stylist whose name I’ve never bothered to learn. The one who shows up on time even though she has no appointments! So now I’m sitting there in a cold quiet barbershop with some random girl walking around. Awkward. At this point in my life I accept that I look like an adult, but I’m not, I’m just playing a role. Girls still make me uncomfortable and I still think they carry cooties. Now I’m forced to breathe in all this cootie filled air because my barber can’t seem to be on time to his own postponement. At this point I’m pissed! Although, I should be used to this because every haircut I’ve ever had starts this way. Now it’s 10:24. I’ve finished reading TIME cover to cover and run out of angry faced emojis to text MM so that she too may stew in my frustration. Why I do that I don’t know. Its therapeutic I suppose. Like passing gas in the car and locking the windows before your partner can save themselves. Not that I would do something like that…I step back outside to put the magazine in my car. It’s a really nice day out. The city is starting to come alive. I’m tempted to say F it and go to the beach. Overgrown afro and all. Instead, I slowly drag myself back in and sit down. At 10:34 my haircut finally begins.
This story repeats itself every time. Not just with my current barber but with every barber I’ve ever seen dating back to when I was a child. Wrecking my Saturday morning seems to be a Black barber theme. A tradition. You may be asking yourself, “Well did you say something to him?” “Did you still have to tip him?” The answer to the first question is yes. I said a lot of things to him and he said a lot of things back. We argued… about sports. We talked about movies. We discussed police violence. We traded stories about our kids. We joked about each others shoes and nodded to each other when pretty women walked by. And yes, I tipped him. That is where the beauty of the Black barbershop lies. The relationship between the barber and the client. The relaxing hum of the clippers against your hair. The feeling of relaxation and swag that you walk out with. In the movie Barbershop, the character Eddie says,
“This is the barbershop! The place where a black man means something! Cornerstone of the neighborhood! Our own country club! I mean, can’t you see that? Hell, that’s the problem with your whole generation. You know, y’all… you don’t believe in nothin’. But your father, he believed in something, Calvin. He believed and understood that something as simple as a little haircut could change the way a man felt on the inside.”
I have a close friend with curly blonde hair. Needless to say he is white. He has a blonde wife, grew up in the midwest, and has a serious bacon obsession. He’s practically Captain America. When I asked him how long it took to get his haircut he told me around 45 minutes. Must be nice. But here’s the thing, I also asked Capt. America whether or not he gets the same barber all the time? What they talk about? “No, not much, but I do get a scalp massage” was his reply. My haircut experience may be expensive and a little frustrating, but it’s worth more then gold.
I hate the barbershop. Maybe I love to hate the barbershop. Or maybe I just love the Black Barbershop.
- Thing I learned today – My barber is a good guy. Donny and I randomly ran into him in the street the other day. Donny had never met him before but immediately smiled and gave him a high-five. If the boy trusts him, he must be a good dude.
- Random Thing – When people say “You have a cute kid” do you say “thank you”? I mean, they aren’t complimenting me, they’re complimenting him. Maybe they’re complimenting my genes, which would be weird. Usually the focus is on his blue eyes. I can’t take credit for that. Next time I’ll just say, “fo sho.”
- Sports Thing – I am highly disappointed that the Clippers host the Spurs in the first round of the NBA playoffs. I was hoping my Golden State Warriors would have the pleasure of eliminating them both. I guess one will have to do.
Thank you very much for stopping by. This is the sixteenth Daddy Day By Day. If you have any questions, rants, feelings, anything positive, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply comment below. Please click on one of the two “follow my blog” links on the right. For you mobile users the links are at the bottom of the page. Talk to you soon…