Old Spice, and baby powder – those were the scents that immediately filled my nostrils when I walked through the door of a barber shop for the first time. Twenty five years alive and I had yet to experience what many people grew up with as “tradition”. The stigma around barber shops is what kept me out.
Growing up, my father would shave his own head and face, and lather a healthy amount of Old Spice. I grew up with the smell, which turned into a comfort of my morning routine. My little brother would go to the barber, and I never had that luxury. Unlike my brother, I always went to the local commercial salon – the type that doles out haircuts like fast food. Let me just say- there is NOTHING wrong with those types of shops, I’ve just always struck out there. Asking for a short cut and not looking like a Poodle puppy was laying on my head was always a challenge.
Three years into my transition, I decided enough was enough. I’d gotten lucky in the past with friends whom were certified in cutting hair, but for some reason the desire to go to an actual barber was for me a missing link. The curiosity had me, but fear had a tighter grip. For centuries barbers have this rap of machismo conversation, and I felt inadequate in the thought of not being able to “live up” to the stories of being a husband, brother, boyfriend. I would get this visual of an extremely overly masculine environment – men with their perfectly
groomed beards, and chiseled jaw lines.
Three years into my transition, I decided enough was enough. I would take that leap. Put myself out of my comfort zone, for many reasons I was there to begin with. It was a warm, yet rainy day. I couldn’t
tell you if it was humid, or the air was thick because of my labored breathing. “A lot of hurdles have been overcome by myself, it’s just a haircut.” I kept telling myself as I walked up to the door.
Old spice, and baby powder – the scents that brought me back to such an innocent age. Old Spice was soothing almost as my head rushed with positive memories. I walked up to the desk and was greeted with a large smile from the owner. I saw my barber come around the corner, shook my hand, and we were off to the chair. The next hour would FLY by as it was filled with positive conversation about my career, my dogs, concerts. My anxieties about life melted away because I wasn’t thinking about them. (Not sure if it was the conversation, or the hot shaving cream/towel mixture that he had applied). * wink*
I always had a darker view of the barber shop – maybe it was watching Sweeny Todd… maybe it was tales of their grim past. Looking around the shop I saw that barber pole that used to signify how it used to be
centuries ago. Barbers at one point were called “barber surgeons” due to the leeching techniques and dentistry they used to even do. The barber pole signifies that history. The red is said to signify blood, white bandages, and blue the veins. Most traditional poles have a round metal piece at the top which is said to signify the bowl of leeches, and a rounded metal bottom plate to signify the blood collected.
Hearing him [ my barber ] talk about the passion he has for barbering was inspiring, and put me at ease especially knowing the crafts past. It’s art to him, and it definitely shows. At the end of the day, I walked out of there with a great haircut, and inspiration. What I was able to take away from the experience was this; do not decide others’ actions for them. There are some terrible people in this world, but there are some
genuinely good ones as well. Sometimes we have to push ourselves out of our comfort zones to learn about ourselves and others. We have to do something that scares us, to make us truly live and take risks- and that
applies to many life situations.