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I miss Floyd the Barber

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Nov 4, 2009 9:28 pm

There's something about a Saturday morning in an old time barber shop.  A "stick with you" memory that centers around smells and sounds.  The buzz of the clippers and snick of the scissors, the smell of the Clubman Talc and the green "frog juice" aftershave, the hydraulic hiss as the chairs adjust up or down, the conversation about guns, guts and gams.  All very Norman Rockwellian and balanced with what America was, and I think, would really like to be again.

The small Ohio dairy farming town from whose loins I did spring nine presidents ago was proud to hold a couple of those kinds of shops.  As a small boy, I had to "hold real still" as the clippers buzzed around my ears until I couldn't remember my middle name.  If I sat still enough, rewards in the form of Tootsie Rolls or bubble gum came from the big tin pail high up on the bookshelf in the corner.  The magazines on the VERY top of the bookshelf contained much different types of rewards, rewards which still mystify and perplex me even yet today.   When back in town many years later, after the immediate family had also moved away, I popped in for a haircut AND a barber shave.  I had never actually had a real barber shave up to that point, and it was everything I had anticipated it to be, from the hot towel on the face, to the hot lather, to the super sharp yet cut-free razor shave, the hot rinse followed by the mentholated snap on my cheeks of the aftershave, and then the 5 minute face and scalp massage.  It just doesn't seem right to want another man's hands on you like that!   So, when we got a new place here in town called SportClips which presents itself as a modern incarnation of the manly barbershop experience, I was intrigued.  Friend of a friend gives me a coupon for a free/reduced lunch VIP treatment, and I'm on the way the next Saturday morning looking forward to the experience.  Ahh, hot lather and some frog juice!   Now, I wasn't actually expecting Floyd, but I also wasn't expecting the entire shop to be staffed by 19 year old Avril Lavigne wannabes, and I didn't imagine that they would be angry with me just for showing up.   Me: (walking up to the counter and stating the obvious) Hi, I'd like to get a haircut. Lolita The Curt: (texting while not making eye contact) "Do you want the Full, the Partial, the MVP, the PDQ or the DMV?" Me: Well, I have this coupon for a first time something (I extend my hand toward her with the coupon, which she violently snatches from my fingers). L.T.C. : (shouting over her shoulder toward the back of the place) "Monique, we've got ANOTHER coupon guy here!" (then directing her gaze back at me) "You'll need to sit over there and wait for Monique.  She's taking all the coupons today."   I walk meekly over to the corner where two or three other guys are already waiting on a hard, bare bench, looking sheepish because they, too, had the temerity to actually show up and attempt to USE the SportClips equivalent of that first puff of crack.  A harsh, florescent glare from a single tube washes across our corner.  We all grunt greetings as they slide over and make a little room for me on the Bench of Shame.  Across on the other side is a warmly lit and tastfully appointed waiting area, the area I can only imagine is for the Non-Coupon Gents of Glory.  There is a small popcorn machine whirring away happily, a mini fridge full of soft drinks, a magazine rack of current hunting, fishing, sports and car pubs, and a flat screen TV angled so They can watch ESPN.  On the cold floor in front of our Fortress of Solitude is one torn up section of USA Today from a week ago.  I gingerly make a move toward picking it up, and then Lolita The Curt snaps at me:   L.T.C. "Sir, SIR!  I need you to fill this out.  It's for when you use the coupon, you have to fill this out." (she is waving a clipboard (a Sportsclipsboard?) at me with some papers popped into it)   I walk over and retrieve it and look it over.  Have you ever read, I mean really READ, the arb agreement that we have our clients sign?  Well, this was even better.  They wanted my this, my that, my other.  Knowing that I had to see this through, but I would never come back and would rather burn my own hair off in my driveway with a book of matches, a magnifying glass and the sun, I made everything up and handed it back to her.  Smugly passive/aggressive, I sat back down to await my summons from Monique.   My best guess was that there was a separate exit directly to the outside for the Coupon users, because I never saw my fellow bench dwellers as they were called to the back, one by one.  The Gents of Glory would be escorted to the back by two Avrils, and would return 20 or 30 minutes later, glowing and radiant and happy, but with unremarkable difference in their hair.  It was almost as if they were distracted while the Avrils made busy around their split ends, while not much cutting actually took place.  And they paid 60 bucks for it.   And then she was there.  Monique.  MY Monique.  Just me, Monique, and my coupon.  She motioned me toward the back of the shop, and we walked until the light grew dim, the sound of steam hissing from pipes grew louder, rats scurried around our feet, water began running down the sides of the walls, and I could hear the tormented moans of regret from the souls of Coupon Users From Days of Future Past.  One naked 40 watt bulb swung slowly from its cord as she sat me down on an upturned empty 5 gallon bucket of Spackle, pulled out a pair of Playskool safety scissors, made two or three whacks at me, kicked the bucket out from under me, and then rolled me out that secret back door.  No frog juice, no hot lather, no bubble gum, and I had even sat really still.   Floyd, Floyd, Floyd.  If only I could feel your strong fingers in my receding locks once again.  Even without a coupon.          
Nov 4, 2009 9:55 pm

I’m printing your stories and getting them bound! As always, good stuff!

Nov 4, 2009 10:23 pm

You could easily substitute Fantastic Sams, Great Clips, or any of the other numerous wanna be haircut places for Sportclips.  No service, same haircut, same price. 

  I recently FOUND Floyd the Barber.  Well, actually I found his shop and the women he hired to run it for him after he retired.  All the things you said you remember from childhood I can get from this barber shop.  In fact, I think all of the same furniture that I remember from Floyd's shop is still in this one.  Quality haircuts, straight razors, warm shaving cream out of that machine on the coutner, hot towels, etc.  I've never had a barber shave, but I'm thinking about trying it out in the near future.  Bad thing is I've been driving PAST this place to get to Sportclips and Fantastic Sam's for the last 8 years.  It took a coupon on the back of my last grocery store receipt to get me to try them.   
Nov 4, 2009 11:39 pm

My rule about the person that cuts my hair … they must be good looking, male or female it makes no difference. If you don’t care enough to keep yourself up why would I trust you with my hair? They must also not be at a chain … guys that get $10 haircuts also wear $99 suits. 

Right now, a hottie with implants cuts my hair … I might be her only male client in this redneck town.  A barbershop shave or neck shave is HARD to beat though!!!

(good story by the way!!!)

Nov 5, 2009 12:50 am

We have a local guy… only problem is he isn’t very good… Great conversation(if i had nothing to do all day and was 62 I would hang out all day), good atmosphere(free seasonal beer out of the kegerator, with a donation to the food pantry), but the cuts just suck…