While having “Dunch” (the time between lunch and dinner, seems to me I heard this term on “Seinfeld” years ago. which means I’m still not comfortable with dining with an overly abundance of strangers. Truth be told, after 40 + years in the food and beverage biz, I prefer to dine alone as much as possible) with my daughter, she mentioned how she checks my “blog” from time to time and hasn’t seen anything posted lately, hence the following post:

While I have not posted anything in months, I’ve made quite a few notes for possible stories. The one I’m currently looking at says: “Triple-fade-high-top-gumby” a term relayed to me years ago when I asked a coworker about his new hair cut. “It’s a triple-fade-high-top-gumby” and it looked good on him. The next time I had my hair cut by a barber who tended to that task from when Kennedy was President until Bush 2, asked what I wanted today, I answered ….”a triple-high-top-gumby” !! Of course Rudy (the aforementioned barber) didn’t know what I was talking about and I didn’t really want a “triple-fade-high-top-gumby” I just liked the way it sounded out loud, probably why I’ve remembered it this long.

This leads to my main concern in life at the moment…I … don’t …have… a… (gulp)…Barber !!!

As I’ve stated above, after having the same barber for over forty years, what does one do? After Rudy closed up shop I visited him at his home for a year or so, but eventually it became clear that he was no longer up to the task and I’ve been seeking his replacement ever since.

The first possible replacement did a passible job until he attempted to apply shaving cream to my …eyebrows !! The next one was recommended by my (now former) father-in-law, since we were on good terms, I gave the guy a shot. It did not go well.

The barber in question was Italian (as was Rudy) dressed in the traditional garb of a barber from a different era and insisted on giving me the “Gentleman’s Special” instead of the “just a trim” I requested. When he was finished, I knew why I always wondered why my wife’s dads hair always looked the way it did. Something I should have thought of before using his barber.

At this point I wasn’t sure where to turn until I was coerced into going to the tanning salon my wife frequented. When entering the rural shop, I noticed the barber chair off to one side in front of a large mirror and asked the proprietor (a very attractive brunette about my age) if she cut hair, to which she replied “yes”. I tanned and had a haircut, pretty good job and she understood what “just a trim” meant and no attempt to go at my eyebrows with a straight razor.

This arrangement went on for a few months and was unfortunately ended when the tanning salon/barber shop kept getting broken into and no matter what the owner did to discourage the break-ins (alarms that didn’t bring the attention of the police until the thieves were long gone and even tried a guard dog but you guessed it…they stole the dog) Eventually the owner/barber closed the business and moved on to something else in a different part of the state.

Just a foot note to this portion of the story: my x wife was jealous of any female that I worked with, especially if I mentioned the woman’s name more than once a week during our nightly after dinner, in front of the TV chats. We once ran into my boss (a woman) while grocery shopping and because I was nice to my boss (duh) and we exchanged pleasantries, I was having an affair, which I wasn’t and didn’t break my wedding vows for the entirety of our marriage, that is until she asked for a divorce and I moved in with my sister. However, I will be honest and admit that I did think about what it might be like with another woman, but didn’t go farther than that.

The reason I mention this is, it was in the back of my mind that the X had something to do with the break-ins, not that she did them herself but maybe hire someone to do so? Crazy? Perhaps? But when you’ve read and watched true crime books and TV shows, you get an idea what people are capable of and it is scary.

Once again without a barber and wondering where to go next, I heard a radio ad for a new shop in a neighboring town and gave the place a whirl. The shop was in a strip mall where my bank had a branch, so I knew where it was and tried it out, not bad, another barber who understood “just a trim” and both my son and I used “Britney’s Barber Shop” for the next few years.

Britney eventually moved to the next town over, a nice seaside enclave a stones throw from the beach, of course the price went up, but only a buck, so I (my son had graduated High School by then and found his own cutter of hair) continued to frequent the new shop, even after Britney got married and sold the shop to her new assistant Eugenia, thus becoming “Eugenia’s Barber Shop”, the price of the haircut didn’t go up.

The situation changed when I was promoted at work and given a different schedule, 9am – 5:30pm Monday – Friday, which is considered pretty good in the food and beverage world, but I’d always had a day off during the week to get things done such as…hair cuts, Dr’s visits, dentist and so on, now I didn’t. Of course “Eugenia’s” hours were Tuesday – Friday 9 – 5, Saturday 9 – 1. This meant I would have to change my Saturday morning laundry duty to another time if I wished to keep going to the seaside shop. Since I only had my hair cut once a month, this shouldn’t be much of an inconvenience and I continued with Eugenia.

Eventually even once a month of not getting to sleep in on Saturday became a drag. While I still got up at my usual 6am on the weekend, I would putter around for an hour or so and then…get back in bed until at least 9, heaven. Besides, the drive to “Eugenia’s” was 45 minutes one way and of course, Saturday morning was/probably still is prime time haircut time, which meant there was nearly always a wait. This being the case, Eugenia rented out the second chair of her shop to another barber and I seemed to get shulffed off on her more times than not, even when there wasn’t a wait. All in all, it was time to find yet another barber.

The internet provided a gold mine of potential barber shops and hair salons, one of which was ten minutes away, as well as being open until 3 on Saturdays, which meant that I wouldn’t have to alter my Saturday routine, I gave the place a call. First appointment was to be the next Saturday at 2, the voice on the other end tried to talk me into an earlier hour but clean clothes come first.

“Scissors and Scooters” (the barbershop shared a building with a scooter sales and service establishment) was off a main road and easy to find. The “Scissors” part was owned and operated by an older woman (older than my 60) and thought I was in my forties, so we began on a good note. That didn’t last long as “Kathy” proceeded to relate most (if not all) the highlights of her life (which is why I knew she was 70, she mentioned it at least 3 times) while she slooooowly cut my hair, it was the longest hair cut of my life, took nearly 45 minutes and it was “just a trim” which what I received and should’ve taken 15 minutes, tops. Before I could decide whether to find yet another barber, the Pandemic hit and I and everyone else I knew, went haircut-less for the next several months.

I think it June before the Government ban of haircuts was lifted and I made an appointment with Kathy. At the time I was enjoying being on “Reserve” at work (40% pay, benefits plus the $900.00 from unemployment meant I was netting more than I usually grossed, happy times indeed) and didn’t mind (too much) that the price of a haircut went up $10.00 to $25.00. I expected the price to rise but $10.00 was a bit high, consequently, no tip. She explained about all the extra equipment she was obliged to purchase in order to comply with the Covid-haircut-regulations, plexiglass barriers, multiple disposable masks (one mask per customer) etc. This explanation came before the procedure began, making the haircut last nearly an hour, definitely no tip.

I stuck with Kathy for the next year, partly because I didn’t really want to hunt up another barber, basically the sometimes it’s better to stick with the devil you know, sort of situation. And as I said, she was only ten minutes away. During these ten or so visits I learned about Kathy’s Jr. High School trip the Washington D.C. , her time spent in Alaska working as a bartender, then California where she trained to get her barbers certificate and so on and son on. This information did not come gradually over the various hair grooming sessions, she went through the her life story more or less each and every 45 minute visit. Definitely no tip.

The final haircut came in late July of this year, where Kathy told me that she was going on vacation to one of the Dakota’s, I can’t remember which and would be back in the middle of August, since I wouldn’t need another cut until the end of August at the earliest, this was fine with me.

The end of August came and went, I was busy at work and didn’t get around to calling for an appointment until early September. The call went straight to voicemail and a voice other then Kathy’s said “leave a message and I’ll call you back”. Figuring I dialed the wrong number I tried again, same result. I waited a couple of days and made another attempt, receiving the “this number is no longer in service” recording. I was going to drive by “Scissors and Scooters” but decided this was sign that it was time for a new barber, back to the internet with very little success, several of the shops I called had the same “no longer in service” recording and I wondered if this was from being Covid-closed for several months?

By this time it had been two months since my previous haircut and I was getting pretty shaggy, what to do, what to do? That problem was temporarily solved when I went grocery shopping at Walmart and I recalled that they had a barbershop/salon right there and this particular morning, they had no customers, so I gave it a shot. One of the masked attendants directed me to a terminal, where I scrolled through the various options for hair care and selected a basic cut for $18.73 with a five dollar tip. A receipt popped out and I was lead to a chair, seated, aproned and ready for my Walmart haircut. I requested my usual “Just a trim, please” to which my new barber replied “Shorter”? “Is there an alternative”? The young lady barber was not amused by my wittiness and proceeded to give me the shortest haircut since I was 8 and my mom (Rest in piece) bought a haircutting kit that was supposed to save the family “$100.00 a year in barber costs” big money in the mid sixties. Unfortunately mom wasn’t very good at cutting hair and my older brother and I ended up with crewcuts. Dad took us back to Rudy’s and hid the hair cutting kit.

As I said, my hair was the shortest it had been in decades but I did get quite a few compliments at work and it is time for another visit to the barber, I just can’t look at myself in the mirror and see a Walmart haircut looking back, plus they don’t do mustaches, all in all, it’s probably back to the internet, what would we do with out it?

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