Hair History

Recently there’s been a burgeoning trend for throwback type barbershops, like in the good old days, which were good only for people who were male, Anglo Saxon and Protestant, and had lots of money, but that’s neither here nor there. At least I believe it’s a trend, as I’ve personally seen a couple of old-timey barbershops crop up of late. On the other hand there was an article in the New York Times about old-fashioned barbershops a few months ago, so the trend is probably long over now. I’ll know for sure if an article about this subject shows up in Time anytime in the next few weeks.

I remember as a boy growing up in the Sixties, no, a rather young child, nay a bawling babe in arms, I was taken to the base barber for my monthly trim. We got haircuts at the barbershop on the air base my father was assigned to primarily because a) it was cheap and b) it was cheap. Haircuts at military base barbers were quite simple in those days, you had your flat-top or your burr, and so kids’ haircuts were similarly comprehensive. Back in the middle of the Twentieth century, a haircut was filled with rituals that we as children didn’t understand, but we did know we didn’t like them. The hot lather and shaving of the back of the neck. The talcum powder appended liberally. The combs in the bottle of strange blue liquid. Man, I hated that stuff, a trip to the barber when I was a kid was up there on a kid’s most despised list, along with going to piano lessons, bedtime before the really good shows came on, and attending confession.

Then as I grew up (but not matured, I just want to make that clear), I underwent changes. With the Seventies came long luxurious tresses of hair, and long periods between visits to the barber. The Eighties came along and with them, layered cuts and blow-dries, now at hair stylists. The Nineties, well, the hair got shorter, but I avoided the gels, mousses and other product, more because my hair was thinning at approximately the same rate my waistline was thickening. One might be related to the other, but I haven’t had a chance to correlate the data.

So now we’ve come full circle. I get a short military style hair cut (a Number Four) and there’s no gel, no hair driers, no product and no styling of any kind. I was getting it cut at one of those cheapo chain places, Super Duper Cuts or whatever. But then I heard about Floyd’s and I was intrigued. I have to admit to a teensy bit of disappointment on my first visit. I thought they might go for the esthetic of Floyd’s Barbershop on the old Andy Griffith show. Alas, no, it was a hipster inside joke kind of thing. The place was liberally plastered with rock back posters from the Seventies onwards and the music was boisterous and sampled many eras but mostly newer stuff, and loudly. For Colorado Springs, the staff was a little out there with lots of tats and face metal, but in California they’d look like pretty much like everybody else.

Still, what they do here is a throwback type of service. There’s the standard haircut of course, but it comes with the talc, the shaving cream so warm and comforting on the neck, and a shave with a straight razor. There’s hot, steamy towels. And there’s a vibrating massage thingy for soothing those tense muscles in the neck and shoulder, the ones you get when someone is plying a straight razor around the back of your neck. They even have the bottled combs in blue liquid, still strange, but oddly comforting now.

To top it all off, they also have the full shave, with the straight razor and hot and cold and mentholated towels, topped off with a splash of invigorating after shave to close the pores and bring tears to your eyes. I always wondered about a barber shave and I finally took the plunge recently and tried it. I’m now a professed convert. Every man should do this, at least once.

So, yeah, now I get my hair cut at Floyd’s. There’s not much of it, but they treat it with respect and besides, I like the music. Oh, and there’s a pool table while you’re waiting. Put in a beer tap, and I might never leave.


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