Hey! Where’s Shakes?

Well, a belated happy new year to everyone.

I’ve been planning a blog for some time about new years resolutions, but haven’t gotten around to it. There will be a couple assertions in it that not everyone may agree so I’m still thinking it over. Not that I’ve thought all that much about cheesing people off in the past.

Also, my travel schedule has yet to form up for this quarter. The next trip will no doubt be to the ‘mother ship’ in Orange County, Ca. Our corporate HQ is a place I’m pretty diligent in avoiding when I’m in the area. Not that it’s a bad place, but I usually am in the midst of teaching a class when I’m there and by the late afternoon, when I’d be ducking into the office, my nerves are pretty brittle. Last thing I want to deal with is people I don’t know.

My MO is to slip in quietly to grab one of my friends to go a watering hole.

This post is about something more personal and funny. Barbers.

Like many guys that came of age in the seventies, it had been decades since I’d been to a barber shop. Honestly, who wouldn’t want a hot girl (more or less) to wash and style your hair as opposed to a cranky old dude? Besides, no matter what you told the old boy you were getting the same type of cut.

However, age, marriage, and losing hair makes a trip to the local hair cuttery a lot less worthwhile. Add into that the prospect that a high percentage of the time you may score some newly graduated cutter who’ll maul your head worse than the geezer in the barber shop. What’s worse, where I live, is that these stylist parlors that cater to mostly guys are hideously expensive. My head just isn’t worth a $40 cut. Especially when I’m at a point where I can get away with shaving it all off.

So after some searching I found a great barber shop, oddly enough, right near my house. It has a half dozen or so barbers most of which appear to have a steady clientèle. Good sign. Better yet, they do things old school – trim up your eyebrows, trim any errant ear hair, and finish the trim with hot shaving cream and a straight razor. Growing up I’d seen this when my dad would take me to the barber but it wasn’t until I hit my late thirties that I got the treatment myself. Pretty nice, I tell you what. You leave the shop feeling like a million bucks.

At one point one of my co-workers traveled here to help with a seminar and asked where he could get a trim.  So I directed him to the intersection near my house. Do you want a stylist or barber? Hit this intersection. Take a right and you’ll find a “Sport-zone” type guys styling place. Take a left, and you have an old school barber shop. The next day, he shows up with his hair way shorter. Looking good though. He said he’d gone to the barber. First time he’d ever been to one (he’d always went to the styling shops). “It was great! Although I almost crapped myself when the dude came at me with that razor!”

Turns out he met Shakes. Shakes the Barber.

Shakes does’t appear to have the clientele of the others so he’s the guy I get more often than not. Shakes is a dead ringer for Bill Dauterive on “King of the Hill”. He’s also a heavy smoker so you have to know not to say anything that’ll trigger a monologue when he’s at your side. He’ll lean down to make his point and you’ll get the really horrible smoker breath full blast. But what puts the Shakes in “Shakes” is case of the palsy. Usually manifesting itself when he’s using the straight razor.

The first time you experience it, it’s something else. You can’t move, or shouldn’t, and in your peripheral vision you see a four inch razor shaking as it’s heading for your neck. All you can do is wince to ready yourself. However, when he gets within a few millimeters of your skin, he smooths out and you get trimmed clean as a whistle. Quite a coaster ride that.

Shakes also has a pretty good memory. All you really have to tell him is how short, usually in a #1, #2 or #3 format. He’ll then trim you up identically to the last time.

A few months ago I brought my son into the shop for a cut. His mother had been after me to drag him in for months. The way I figure it, it’s his head and he should enjoy long hair while he can. So in we go to see Shakes, but in the shakes chair is a new guy. A new dude that is a texas version of Jim Ignatowski on “taxi”, only with shorter hair.

To say Iggy has issues is an understatement. It was funny to watch him try and figure what the boy wanted, haircut-wise. Colin wasn’t accustomed to all the questions since Shakes (and the other guys) would ask one or two questions and get on with business. He didn’t appear to notice that Colin had no part in his hair, and cut his hair with a hard part on the right. It flustered Iggy a bit to fix it, but fix it he did. He must have dropped his comb four or five times. No doubt a hassle, since you can’t just pluck it off the floor and return to what you were doing.

I’ve been to Iggy twice since then. It’s not the same. You wouldn’t have to instruct Shakes much at all. and besides, Iggy can’t figure out how to run the shaving cream warmer. This trip I didn’t have my normal full beard, so he had sideburns to deal with. Turns out, not his strong point. He was a good inch off, left to right.

So needless to say, I’m missing Shakes.