Posted by: Andrew Reynolds | 03/25/2012

My Third Greatest Fear

My third greatest fear has come true.  It finally happened in all its horror.  I’ve been dreading the day this might happen and had hoped to avoid it, but it happened.

Yes friends, my barber retired.

LeeRoy is no longer cutting hair.  His health finally gave out (he’s in his 80’s) and the note on the door says he’s done cutting hair.  It is to be expected, I guess, but how am I going to get my hair cut now?  I don’t know any other barbers.  I am not even sure that there are other barbers in my town.  There must be, but I don’t know for sure.

It’s a source of anxiety for me.  Really.  Oh sure, you’re thinking, just get a new barber.  Easy for you to say, but I generally don’t go around just asking strange barbers to cut my hair.

LeeRoy is the only barber whose ever cut my hair.  Really. Honest. He’s the first barber I remember.  He has been in the same little shop for over 50 years.  I remember as a boy my mother giving me two dollars and peddling my bicycle over to LeeRoy’s. He’d cut my hair and he’d give a piece of bubblegum – bazooka bubblegum.

In all the craziness of my life LeeRoy has been a constant.  If I needed a hair cut I could drive to his shop, sit in the chair and he’d cut my hair.  He’d ask me about my job, my family and as I we got older we’d reminisce about past days.  I think we always had the same conversation, “How’s Rick? How’s Billy? Where are you working?”  The last question was because to him it seemed like I was getting a new job every five minutes – I average two years per job. Over the 32 years of my high-tech career that’s 16 different jobs – it’s no wonder he couldn’t keep up.

I never had to tell him how I wanted my hair cut.  I’ve only ever had one style and I trusted LeeRoy to remember what it was.  It’s a good style and fits me.  I see no reason to change.

But, now me and my hair are lost.  What shall I do?  Do I risk having someone else cut it? What if they get it wrong?  I’ve thought of just shaving it all off – kind of a mourning ritual to mourn the passing of a great barber.  Perhaps I’ll just let it grow long, braid it and become a middle-aged hippie.  I’ll wear love beads and a peace sign but I draw the line at any tattoos or body piercings.

Well, I guess I could find another barber but I don’t really know how.  I mean what would I say to a new barber?  And what about the question, “How would you like your hair cut?”  What!?!  I have no idea – maybe they could call LeeRoy.  And what would happen if I accidentally called the new barber “LeeRoy” in the middle of a hair cut – that could be bad.

After his long years in his shop I know that LeeRoy deserves a rest, but part of me is sad because I know he is one of those people who wouldn’t want to retire.  He is the kind of man who would rather die on the job with his clippers in his hand.  He must be very ill to be forced to quit.  That alone is sad and makes my problem seem small.


Responses

  1. I have been going to the same barbershop 34 years. It has moved 3 times. The original owner retired, but the shop has kept his name. The current barbers are all Vietnamese, and they don’t speak english very well. Good haircuts, but no discussions. Now with my disability, Ina cuts my hair very nicely.

    My barber in New York gave a good massage after each haircut. In this regards, I sure miss New York.

    Good luck in finding another barber.

    Marv

  2. I feel your pain. Until last year, I had only ever gone to Jess down on 1st Street. He also cut my dad’s hair for over half of his life, and came to his memorial service. My hair has not been as well-cut since; but more importantly, I miss him as part of the rhythm of my life. Others may not understand, but it really is a loss.

    It will be difficult to find a new person. I recommend scoping out the places first. A real barbershop is not new and shiny, but it is always clean. There should be a striped, rotating barber pole visible. Inside, there should be a black-and-white (well, black-and-sorta-yellow) poster on the wall from the 50s showing the names of different haircuts for men. There should be magazines of which your mother would not approve further back in the place, but not quite wholly out of sight from the boys. There must be a calendar up that has pictures of either sports things or models lounging on muscle cars. There certainly must be one or more traditional barber’s chairs that are clearly still in use after several years.

    And for the love of Pete, if there is any indication that they are a “hair stylist”–run! Real barbers are only ever barbers.

    Good luck!

    • Yes, it is rhythm of life that is really disrupted and there was a certain comfort in seeing an old friend. It is also another sign that I am getting older too.

      and thanks for the advice on finding a new barber.

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