“Opening in October is a unique experience for the men and boys in your family. We will be offering:
Hot lather straight edge shaves
The latest in clipper and scissors cuts.
(So far so good, but here’s the kicker.)
50″ Plasma TV in the waiting area.
19″ TV’s at each station.
Leather Club Chairs to relax in while waiting.
Free Beer, soda and gourmet coffee.
Internet hook up for your use, or a laptop provided for you.
“That’s a spa, not a barber shop!” hooted one son.
“Internet hookups, leather club chairs and gourmet coffee!” jeered my husband.
“Laptops!” William shrieked with laughter.
So where do my men think guys should go for haircuts? They all have a deep affection for a grubby, once white little building in our old neighborhood where two Mayberry-style barbers in their early 60’s cut hair. One is named Mike, the other Jim. National Geographics from as far back as 1960 sit around in dusty piles in a corner. There’s a shelf where they still sell some sort of hair tonic and the old cabinet TV has to be kicked occasionally to correct the picture. The walls are a faded pea green color, and there’s a fly strip up in the stained ceiling tiles. In other words, it’s a real man’s hangout.
The customers are sometimes boys from the neighborhood, but mostly retired men. Jim and Mike don’t do hip styles. They still give boy cuts the old-fashioned way, clippered up short on the sides with a little left on top to comb over. Sitting in that shop through all the years of haircuts for my four sons, I have often had the feeling of time standing still. It’s as though it wouldn’t matter who was in the White House, whether the economy was collapsing, or what the price of gas was–Jim and Mike would still be standing there, talking about the latest football scores and occasionally asking a customer to whack the TV because the picture had gone wonky. The National Geographic collection dates back to the Kennedy Administration, but Mike and Jim are still there, clipping away. The only thing that changes is that the magazine piles get deeper.
In a world where some men now consider facials, eyebrow tweezing, and hair highlighting to be an essential part of their grooming, it’s nice to head over to Mike and Jim’s and revisit a time when leather club chairs and 19″ personal TV’s were unheard of at the barber’s. More importantly, the guys won’t find a single hair-stylist mincing around in heels, asking how the cucumber facial is coming along. Besides, Mike and Jim only charge $12.00 a cut. The new barber shop/spa charges $18.00. After all, somebody has to pay for the snacks, the leather chairs, the laptops and the 50″ plasma TV in the waiting area!