He’s got less hair, but barbershop memories abound

He's got less hair, but barbershop memories abound By Bob Karolevitz In the assorted junk I have squirreled away in the garage, I found an old hair-clippers the other day.

It brought back memories of the home cuts which my sainted mother used to give me when I was a kid. We saved a few cents that way when a trip to the barber cost all of two-bits, as I recall.

When the hair reached down over my collar � it wasn't a statement then nor was it the current style � it was just too long, that's all. That's when the clippers came out, and I was in for a painful ordeal.

I was made to sit on a stool in the kitchen where the linoleum floor made it easier for her to sweep up the clippings. Around my neck she pinned a dish towel. Or was it a sheet?

Anyway, I begrudgingly perched there, and she began to whack away at the growth.

The clippers were hand-operated, and I don't think they were very sharp. Every now and then, they would get clogged up with a hank of hair, and, boy, did it hurt!

"Sit up there," she would say, as I slumped over on the stool. Little bits of hair would get in my eyes, or at least I thought they would. I squirmed and fidgeted, which made her job that much harder, but she kept at it until she was through.

Then, like an artist, she stood back and admired her work. "Now don't you look nice?" I think she remarked. "I couldn't send you to school or to church when your hair was so shaggy."

Maybe I'm putting words in her mouth, but whether she said that or not, I can still remember the misery of those periodic sessions on the stool.

I didn't care if I looked good or not. She could have used a bowl over my head like some mothers did. All I wanted was for the agony to be over so I could go outside and play.

It's not that way anymore. Actually, I've hidden the old hair-clippers so that Phyllis doesn't get any ideas. I'm not about to sit on a stool at my age while she practices tonsorial torment on me.

Thank goodness there are still a few barbershops today � and trained men and women who have replaced mothers for that occasional trim. They also have replaced those hand-operated clippers with electric ones which don't torture you like the old ones did.

Two-bits won't get the job done now, though. It costs a lot more than those freebees mothers used to put you through � but it's worth it.

Barbers don't shave you any more, however, what with law suits, AIDS and competition from personal razors. Those picturesque mugs and lather brushes have gone the way of buttonhooks and buggy whips. I just hope that professional haircuts don't become obsolete, too. Then we'll have to go back to mothers and the kitchen stool.

When Phyllis tells me it's time to go to town for another trimming, I proceed to the barbershop with no apprehension. I know I'll get good conversation, and the clippers and scissors won't hurt.

Trouble is, I don't need it like I used to. The crewcut has to be leveled off, of course, but the growth isn't like it once was, especially on the top.

The barber snips away, though, making sure that Phyllis will be satisfied with the results. I relax in the chair which is a lot more comfortable than mother's stool was.

But when he's through, he doesn't say that I look nice like she always did. Instead, he just mutters: "I'd better quit now. I'm running out of hair."

© 2001 Robert F. Karolevitz

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