Now, Likker Jimmy is welcome to tell me to suck sod and never call him that again, but I don't expect he'll ever know what's going on, so I will do what I always do: Continue on in insultingly smug fashion until I am confronted and forced into an apologetic pantomime. How the hell does a mime say "I'm sorry?" I don't know, but I'll send one to Lileks as soon as he starts yelling at me.
The reason I bring it up at all is because we seem to be tumbling along in some sort of cosmic slipstream together. It's probably more like a clothes dryer, with me as the lint screen. While we have never communicated with each other in any way, and I am certainly not charmed enough to be able to boast of collaborating with him, I do believe I have highlighted three occasions in the past in which our ideas passed eerily close to each other. This morning I hop over to The Bleat to see that he has decided to do the Truffle Shuffle all over my plan to write about hair cuts. I should just write first, then go to the webbernets. It would save me a lot of anguish. Alas, I take a slightly different tack, so this whole vainglorious introduction is just my insecure way of saying "Like, listen, man. I'm totally not tryin' to mellow Likker Jimmy's vibe by hornin' in on his goods. I was totally gonna write about this, anyway."
I'm sorry. Somebody get me a mime, because I am just soooo sorry. I haven't risen up against the soul-blanching incursion of chain barbershops by finding the last vestige of old-school tonsorial arts in my condo-laden urban death nest. Indeed, I eschew them for the very reason men seem so keen on desiring them: The camaraderie. I am not a talker. Not a small talker, anyway. I have no knack for chatting it up or chewing the fat. When questioned, I give short answers that leave little room for elaboration or follow up.
"How've you been?"
"What've you been doing since your last time in?"
"What's going on with this weather? Can't seem to figure out what it wants to do."
"Should I just shut up and cut your hair?"
I do remember the smells and the feel of the old school, man version of the barbershop. But those memories are mostly from childhood, when I sat up on a worn, wooden plank that Mick laid across the arms of the chair. Cliches: Blue barbicide, lab coats, man-banter. Cliches, yes. But damned comfortable cliches.
Army barbershops, even the ones off-post, were mostly assembly line deals that didn't give you much in the way of nostalgia.
"High and tight, please."
I like it, I get it. I understand the appeal, the pared down simplicity of the all macho experience. It's like a tree fort with a No Girls Allowed sign. But I like girls. I like pretty girls. I especially like pretty girls doing things for me, and to me. So I found me a place that calls itself a Gentlemen's Barbershop.
Ohh, you'll hate me for this. Yes, my barber is a girl. I think she may have even gone to some "Stylist Academy." The shop is a small place designed for men. Men's magazines, sports on a flat-screen, classic literature on the shelves, straight razors and shaving kits on display and for sale. Fat leather chairs in the waiting area, and dark, polished wood all around. My haircut is too expensive, it includes a hot towel on the face, a straight razor on the neck, and a shampoo (you sissy!), and most of the other guys in there are executive types on a lunch break. Mad Men sorts of fellows, I gather, but this is Seattle, so Mad Men without the credible masculinity. But my barber is a pretty girl who takes my coat and offers me a coffee or a water when I walk in, takes interest in my family, chats just enough that I don't have to do much chatting of my own, and she gives me the best damned haircut I've ever had, every single time. Of course I go back, and of course I pay too much, and of course I tip too well on top of that - I walk out of there feeling like King of the World.