- Books, Literature, and Writing
Barber or Bartender?
Today I did what a lot of you out there have done many times: got a haircut. It's not fancy by any means - short, but not too short, over the ears, tapered in the back - not crew-cut mind, but short enough I don't have to do much in the mornings but run my hand through it to make it good to go. I like neat and tidy and clean cut. Not too exciting is it? Something a million men and women do every day, right?
When I was growing up I hated being in the barber chair. My Grandfather would take us, my brother and I, to a small barber shop just a town away from where we lived, and he'd tell Phil, "Take it off. They don't need it any longer." I hated it. Inevitably I'd wind up with a lopsided haircut and a bloodied ear from Phil not watching what he was doing. He was too busy talking. Talking and not watching his 'patient' in the chair.
Today I was reminded of that fact by my 'barber'. Talking and cutting hair seem to be the norm nowadays as it was those many years ago.
Don't get me wrong, I don't mind. And the fact my barber was a woman ( actually I prefer a woman now, they tend to do a better job, detail oriented and all that), I only thing I wanted from her was a haircut. But once in the chair, I got a pleasant twenty minutes with an attractive female. And the best part, besides the conversation, was the shampoo that goes with it. (If you've never had your hair shampooed before cutting, you haven't lived people. Wow! A message for your scalp. Talk about relaxing.)
See, there you go, taking things out of context. I can hear your wheels turning. The grinding noise is giving me a headache. Don't do that.
Being a red bloodied American male, it didn't hurt to have a pretty woman run her fingers through my hair. Like I said before, I enjoyed it. And if I had to guess, it was her job to make me feel comfortable because of the sharp pointy things near my head. I was an open book in her hands. She started asking questions and I answered without thinking twice. Laughs were had and jokes were told, and my life and my family matters spewed out like whiskey from a bartenders best stock.
I've walked into a lot of bars in my time on this Earth, and I can tell you one thing that's always the same: drinking and talking. Who hasn't gone into a bar and struck up a conversation with the bartender? And this is where it doesn't matter if it's a man or woman. Their job is to keep you talking and keep you drinking. And if you're in a bar which feels comfortable to you, you'll do both in great quantities.
In my travels as a truck driver I've hit dives and premiere bars. A few strip joints too, but I don't count those as the type you'd want to spill your guts. Unless of course you spill the literal kind in a knife fight.
When the bar feels right and the mood is good, the bartender is talkative and the boose is cheap, inevitably talk turns to your life and your loved ones. Be it good or bad. Who hasn't either been the guy at the end of the bar whose drowning his sorrows or seen the guy at the end of the bar doing it? And the one who picks up the pieces for the wretch isn't the spouse or the best friend, but the bartender with the sympathetic ear.
I've also noticed over the years, bars and bartenders must go to the same school. If not the actual building, the same school of thought. Make your customers feel good and they'll keep coming back.
Everybody on Earth is a creature of habit. Yes? If you don't believe that, talk to your cousin, mother, father, whoever, and ask them where they go get their hair cut and where they go to do their drinking. I'd bet my last dollar they have a favorite barber and bar. That's the habit in everyone. The reasons to go to these places may be different: good place, good atmosphere, excellent service, etc. but they will usually tell you one place which they always return to.
Have you ever known anyone, including yourself to go back to a place you don't care for? Not very often. Ask yourself why?
Have you ever known anyone to go into a bar and not talk to the bartender? And I mean anything from the weather to how the family is doing. As you drink a good bartender will find out your life history and family matters within minutes. And so will a barber. This is one of the absolutes of life, I think. And if you really think about it, more people like that kind of thing.
I don't think anyone can really dispute this fact of life. A place to make you feel at home. One of the most popular and long lasting series on TV has proved this for years: CHEERS, starring Ted Danson, Rhea Perjman, and Shelley Long. And Barber shops have done the same thing: BARBERSHP, with Ice Cube, Eve, and Sean Patrick Thomas.
And this brings me back to my haircut. I may not be the most observant person in the world, but I do know a good thing when it hits me in the face. Or the head as the case may be.
Comforting? You bet.
Snip. Snip. Bottoms up.
I wonder if you could combine the two? Make for an interesting place to get bombed and come out with a bowl shaped haircut. Don't you think?