A Trip to the Shop, Barbershop That Is – Lou
The day was Saturday, the time was approximately 9:00AM. I was on my way to my mother’s house across town. Earlier in the week, she had called and asked if I would go with her to get a haircut and whether or not I was in need of one. This was not so unusual since we had similar hairstyles and often went together to the salon. I said I was getting shaggy and could use a trim.
When I arrived at the house, my mother said that our usual stylist was on vacation but she found another place that was cheaper. Money was not plentiful, so cheaper sounded good. I gave my consent and climbed into my mother’s car.
Within a couple of minutes, we had turned into a strip mall. As strip malls go, this one was fairly large. It had the typical stores such as a Beauty Salon, Barbershop, Fast Food chains and specialty shops. As my mom parked the car, I noticed she was quite a distance from the Beauty Salon. Not thinking much about it, I joked with her about how walking was good exercise. Mom just smiled.
As we walked to the store fronts, mom was telling me about a long lost uncle who had hit the lottery. Consequently, I wasn’t paying much attention to the direction we were headed. That is until mom reached for the door and I saw that it read, “Lou’s Barbershop.” I froze for a second, but my mom just continued inside. Reluctantly, I followed her in.
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Being a Saturday morning, the place was buzzing with activity. Mom motioned me over to a couple of the plastic waiting chairs along the wall. When I sat down, I asked, “What’s going on, why are we in a barbershop?” She said, “Remember, I said that I found a place that was cheaper. Anyway, I read an article in one of my women’s magazines that indicated if you wore short hair and were short on money, a barbershop was a good deal.” Not knowing how to respond, I just started to look around.
Even though there were two barber’s chairs, Lou was the only one cutting hair. As I indicated, the place was busy. Lou had just garbed a gentleman and was about to make his initial pass with the clippers. Just the sound of the clippers and the smell of the shop sent a shiver down my back. Peeling my eyes away from the chair, I noticed that two other gentlemen were awaiting Lou’s services. About that time, Lou glanced up and made eye contact with my mom. It didn’t seem to phase him that he had two females sitting in his shop. He just gave a little grin and proceeded to finish the gentleman in the chair.
After trimming the man’s neck and giving him a talc dusting, Lou removed the tissue and cape from around his neck. After getting paid, Lou took the brush and dusted off the seat of the chair and uttered the word “Next.” Before I knew it, the second gentleman was done and now the man just ahead of us was taking his place in the chair. I began to get more nervous as Lou was finishing the cut. By now a couple of other male patrons had entered the shop and took seats to await their turn. Then came the ritual I was dreading. Lou dusted the seat off and smiled while looking at mom and saying, “Next.”
I breathed a temporary sigh of relief as mom approached the chair. I knew I would have another 10 minutes before it was my turn. As mom sat in the chair, I began to pay attention to detail. The chair was a replica of a turn of the century style barber’s chair. It had a black leather cushion and back and white porcelain arms. The foot rest had an ornate metal design on one side and plain on the other. Without saying a word, Lou proceeded to turn down mom’s shirt collar. He placed the white pinstripe cape over her shoulders and folded the top back. From a dispenser on the side of a cabinet, he removed a piece of thin tissue. After placing the tissue around mom’s neck, he secured the cape. The chair had a porcelain and metal arm on the side of it. As Lou rocked the arm back and forth, mom was jerked several inches higher. Abruptly, Lou spun her toward the mirror and asked how she wanted her hair cut.
Mom indicated that she wanted it cut above her ears and tapered in back. With that, Lou spun her back around and reached for the clippers which hung from the countertop. I was shocked when he did not place a guide on them. As he switched them on, there was a loud “POP” and then a low hum. Holding them in his right hand, he reached with his left had and forced mom’s chin down to the cape. With the blades touching her neck at the base, he proceeded up the back of her head, gradually pulling the clippers away. After a couple of passes, Mom’s auburn hair fell to the cape around her shoulders and back with a couple of tufts sliding down the front of the cape. With the back shorn, mom was spun 90 degrees to the left. Lou then tilted her head to the right and proceeded to cut her side with the clippers and a comb. Again, Mom was spun in the chair and the same procedure was used on her other side. Returning the clippers to the hook, Lou grabbed a pair of scissors and cut mom’s top and bangs. By now, the cape was covered with hair. Lou took the duster and knocked the hair around mom’s neck to the floor. He loosened the cape and slid the tissue from her neck. Taking another set of clippers hanging from the counter, he tilted mom’s head forward and shaved her neck. Finally, he applied some talc to the duster and brushed it across mom’s neck several times. The cape was removed and the hair fell to the floor.
Oh no, it was time for the ritual. Lou dusted the hair off of the chair and shouted “Next” while looking straight at me. I rose and passed mom on my way to the chair. She just smiled. As I sat down, I noticed the cushion was still warm from mom. Lou turned my collar down just as he had done mom’s. The cape was placed around my shoulders and Lou reached for the tissue. As he wrapped it around my neck, I was thinking how this was a new experience and feel for me. I had never been to a salon that used tissue. Just then the phone rang and Lou walked over to answer it. It seemed as if he was gone for an eternity as I thought what was about to happen. My daydream ended as Lou fastened the cape and elevated me in the same jerky motion as he did mom. Spinning me around to the mirror, all I could do was stare at the clippers hanging from the counter. I vaguely heard him ask if I wanted the same cut as my mom. I must have nodded, because he spun me back around. Before I knew it, I heard the “POP” of the clippers and felt Lou’s hand forcing my head forward. After a couple of passes up the back of my head, I felt a breeze of cool air at the base of my neck. With my chin still in my chest, I could see my blond locks sliding down the cape and coming to a rest in my lap. After a couple of more passes, Lou spun the chair and tilted my head to one side. The comb was slid up underneath the hair and the clippers slid across the comb. Each pass was progressively higher on the side. Lou followed the same procedure on my right side and then took the scissors to cut the top and bangs. The cape was loosened and the tissue removed as Lou used the smaller clippers to shave my neck and put the finishing touches on the taper in back. The talc felt good on my freshly shaven neck not to mention the pleasant aroma. As the cape was removed and my hair made it to the floor, Mom paid Lou for the haircuts and we headed for home.
All the way back to mom’s I couldn’t keep my hand from feeling the back. Mom asked how I liked it and I honestly had to say I loved it. I’m not sure whether it was the actual look I liked or the feel of Lou using the clippers that turned me on the most. Needless to say, Mom and I have become regular customers of