Barbershop(Black)

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?”

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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THREE  THINGS:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.”
  3. 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 daddydaybyday@gmail.com 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…

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Ebony & Ivory

IMG_3373                          “Is he yours?”

This question came from our new housekeeper. “Why is he so white?” That was posed to me by a coworker. “Can you believe this is his baby?” That beauty was uttered by a family member as she presented my son to her friend. This in small part has been my fatherhood experience. I’ve tried my very best not to let statements such as these bother me but how do you react when someone asks whether or not your son is yours? Or whether or not your wife is white? As if it matters. Or as if it is even a possibility that she couldn’t be. Look at the boy! As frustrating as it can be to navigate through these conversations I must remember to focus on the important things. The things I need to learn immediately to raise and protect my very awesome and pale child. Two things in particular stand out to me.

Sunscreen. I know nothing about sunscreen. What isle is it on at Walgreen’s? What’s the better brand, Copperstone or Banana Boat? What does SPF stand for? MM has continued our vegetarian cloth diapering hippie style child raising way by buying him vegan sunscreen. Seriously. It’s fragrance free, vegan, contains no gluten, soy, oat or dairy. Is that stuff usually in there?!? Sunscreen sounds delicious. It also does not contain any harmful chemicals as defined by the EWG. MM is smart and does her research so I’ll have to trust that this is good stuff. It better be for the ransom they charge. That 6 ounce bottle of sunshine repellent cost about as much money as it takes to run this blog. It’s so rich that when I put it on him he resembles a wet powdered donut. I’m probably putting too much on him but I can’t help it. I’m paranoid. I’ve never had to think about skin damage from the hot sun. As I discover more information I’m learning that I should be more mindful of it. According to the Skin Cancer foundation, in African American skin, melanin, provides a sun protection factor equivalent to 13.4 compared to 3.4 in white skin. 3.4? That’s almost nothing at all. Needless to say I worry about the sun damage to his skin far more than I’ve ever worried about mine.

IMG_4538       Another big difference between he and I is our hair.

Look at it. It’s like a second child. Totally wild and independent of the kid it rides on. When he was born it was long and flat. Easy to manage. As he has gotten older, long thick looping curls have emerged. His hair is starting to become the perfect blend of me and his mother’s hair. But now what? I’ve never had hair like his. I don’t know what to do. I’ve never had to deal with curls this long. Mine are nice and tight. Wavy on a good day. My hair does what it’s told. When I get a haircut my hair will obey me for at least 5 or 6 days with minimal maintenance. His hair is different every morning. It tangles and snags on the teeth of the comb. There’s a section in the back that refuses to lay down. Then there’s the issue of getting it cut. Where do I take him? We can’t go to my barber. My barber is highly skilled and trained in all the latest styles and techniques of fine Black male grooming. He is an artist. When Saturday rolls around he becomes Michelangelo and my head the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. But that’s my hair. What about Donny? Has my barber ever cut a loose curled brunette like my son. It might be equivalent to asking Larry the cable guy to read Tagalog. And don’t even get me started on style. When I was a kid I rocked a hightop fade. I couldn’t possibly shame him like that. Not in 2014.

Sunscreen, hair, Black G.I. Joe vs. White ones. Very small and insignificant things to figure out. To be honest I’m not that worried about it. What I really think about are the questions he will undoubtedly begin to ask. Questions about his own identity. “Why is Mommy white? Why is Daddy Black? Why are you `different`? What am I?” The truth is he’s neither. He’s human. He’s an individual. The only one of his kind. He’s a being with a brain, a heart, and emotions. Capable of deciding to be whatever or whoever he wants to be. The world will always try to categorize him and file him as a certain “type.” For no other reason than, that’s the way it’s always been. I always hoped that it would be my generation who would change that. However, some days I feel we have moved backwards. Perhaps his generation will finally be the one to remove all the labels and skin color bull– and see each other as what we truly are. People. All struggling and fighting to attain the same thing, happiness. If he must be labeled in some way that the world will understand then like his mother and father he is an American. In nationality and ethnicity. “Mixed” is the way you describe a cake. Not a beautiful baby boy with all the potential in the world.

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THREE THINGS:

  1.  Thing I learned today – Did you see it up there?!? Sun Protection Factor. SPF!
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  3. Sports Minute – FOOTBALL SEASON IS ALMOST HERE. I know its fake football but I still love the preseason. So much hope and enthusiasm. When you’re a Raiders fan hope is all you got. Time to get Donny a new set of Raiders pajamas.

Thank you very much for stopping by. This is the fifth edition of Daddy Day By Day. Already working on the next one; Donny’s first bully experience. If you have any questions, rants, feelings, anything positive, please feel free to email me at daddydaybyday@gmail.com or simply comment below. And please follow my blog. I’d really appreciate it. Talk to you soon…