Today, I took my three-year-old son to the barber shop. He climbed "all by mysewf" onto the barber's chair and there was no gaggle of ladies with scissors surrounding him saying, "Awwwww! What a cutie-pie you are!" There were two men having their hairs cut and their whiskers shaved, and I could see in my son's eyes, as he occasionally glanced at his fellow patrons, that being at the barber shop today made him feel like a man.
The barber was all business and my little boy kept his head straight like a champ. I refrained from taking too many photos because it was obvious that I was the only one in there thinking, "Oh my gosh. This is so cute I can hardly handle it."
Barber shops aren't frequented as often as they used to be. I love the old-time photos of men gathered in the barber shop talking about “man things” and having things trimmed up for the week ahead. When the 1960s and it’s hippie hairdos came along, the need for a trip to the barber shop slowly began to decline. In the 1980s, when people realized that perhaps showering and ridding themselves of decades' worth of dreadlocks might be a good idea, unisex salons started popping up, and men flowed with the new idea.
Remember the male perm? I’m no hair-dressing historian, but I have a feeling that the idea behind chemically induced curly locks didn’t find its origins in a barber shop. (Side note: One of my first memories as a 3-year-old is when my Dad came home after having his hair permed: all of those curls. I remember feelings of terror as he walked up and said hello. My Dad remembers it differently and perhaps was even more traumatized than I as he tried to coax crying me out of my closet hiding place with my grandmother's pink shower cap on his head).
This morning, when I tried to tell the barber to "just trim it up a bit," and started doing that thing where I point to different sections of the hair, fluffing it around and saying, "maybe a bit off here, and a bit longer there so the curl stays." I was met with a flat, "What? You mean you want him to look like a girl?" I shut up and let him work his magic. I felt like a lipstick-wearing imposter and I loved it. Perhaps I’ll ask my husband to take the boy in next time...
Alameda boasts at least six barber shops. (Please let me know if I'm missing any.). The ones I found are , Al's Barber Shop, , , and .
Wouldn't it be nice if all of us parents with sons created a little buzz in Alameda’s barber shops that’s louder than the clippers either Al, Dick or Steve, Dolores or Mr. Mino (to name a few of Alameda’s finest) are using on yet another happy customer? If you haven’t already introduced your boy to the charms of a small room, a big chair and a man with a pair of buzzing clippers, perhaps now is the time. Once you’ve relished in the charming simplicity of a local barber shop, it’s difficult to deny that they truly are a tradition worth keeping.