Saturday 27 Aug 2016

The Ole Barbershop
AJ Robinson

Just the other day, I took yet another step in the road back to being middle class. I went to the barbershop. It’s a great shop, new, in fact, to my neighbourhood.


A babershop is for more than a haircut.

The barbershop is the “Dimension Barber Shop II”; it’s quite the nice place. Two fine local gents run the place, give great cuts and chat with the clients. Old joke: a fellow sits down in a barber chair. The barber asks him how he wants his haircut. The customer says, “In silence.”

While I was getting my cut from David, Andrew trimmed the hair of a cute little fellow, sitting on his grandpa’s lap. It seemed his big brother had tried to give him a trim and they brought him in for a repair job. Andrew did him up nice!

Now, I realize that might not sound like much, but you have to understand how long it's been since I could afford to do that. I think it was around the Obama was elected president, for the first time. Yeah, it's been quite a few years. Mind you, I've not gone without. In the interim, my dear wife took care of it. She got some electric clippers and a bunch of those length guides; every couple of months she'd give me a nice clean up.

Although I appreciated it, every time she did one, I felt a twinge of regret. I couldn't help thinking of the barber or stylist deprived of a job. Yeah, okay, it was only one haircut; it's not as if it would break them, but I also knew that, when times are tough, every penny counts. They sure did for us, during those lean times, when I was a stock boy working the graveyard shift at Walmart!


It's been years since I could afford a babershop haircut.

Thus, it made me feel better to be able to afford a proper haircut once more. Heading for the shop, I thought about some of my trims over the years. My dad took me to a little place, on the Venice by-pass; all the old southern crackers sitting around chewing the fat and tobacco. My mom took me to the little place on Circuit Avenue, in Oak Bluffs, where I received my first crew cut. I hated it!

I thought also about the old “Andy Griffith Show” and Floyd the Barber. Yeah, the old fashion barbershop has been a staple of American life for decades. There was even a time when barbershop quartets were quite popular. These days, you pretty much have to go to a theme park to hear one of them perform.

Yet, stepping into this barbershop, I saw how much America had changed. I was one of only two white fellows in the place; Spanish was spoken as freely as was English. I thought it was great that Andrew and David were bilingual, and they made a real effort to make everyone feel at home there.

I realize that one shop is not representative of the entire nation, but it sure gives a strong indication of where we're going. I have to say, when I hear Trump and his little Dumpters talk of barring people from this country, cheering horrid racial stereotypes and insulting pretty much anyone who isn't a WASP, I have to wonder what direction this nation is headed. I like to think the Republican Party that's out of touch, that the country is more open. Poll after poll does show that to be the case, so that gives me hope for the future.


Let's start meeting at a barbershop.

Tell you what, folks, let's all meet down at the “Dimension Barber Shop II.” We'll gussy up and have a nice chat. It’s right at the corner of Conway and Michigan. You can’t miss it.

Listening and talking are the first steps in building a community.

 

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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1 September 2016 through 4 September 2016

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