There is nothing in the world more valuable than a good barber.
Not only does a good barber skillfully reconstitute our dreadlocked mops into something stylish, they do so without using those little plastic guards that snap onto the electric clippers.
You know what I’m talking about. They look like brightly colored cowcatchers, and attach over the razor sharp blades of those home barber kits that our mothers purchased to give us home haircuts. With them, the manufacturer claimed that anyone could cut hair like a professional.
As long as the profession is sheep shearing.
My Mother lined us grade school boys up in kitchen chairs, and — starting with the biggest cowcatcher first, of course — systematically hacked away inches of perfectly good hair, all to the accompaniment of the electric motor, which sounded eerily similar to the garbage disposal.
Mother would have us hold the mirror as she trimmed counterclockwise, starting with an ear, and then circumnavigating the skull, with Magellan-like accuracy, until the same ear was reached again. If the cut was uneven, she started over, repeating the process until she was satisfied the two sides matched or your were out of hair.
When you are in grade school, outcomes are not that important. However, there comes a time when boys get serious about how their hair looks — usually about the time that training bras are discovered.
Initially, the trip to the professional barber in my small town was more about the stack of comic books Mr. Wininger kept on his waiting room table, and the bottles of chocolatey Choc-Ola™ chilling in the fridge. But after a while, I came to care a great deal about how my hair looked.
I was always disappointed with my hair, primarily because it’s very straight. Not that there’s anything wrong with straight hair, but in those days it was quite obvious that only guys with wavy hair attracted girls.
I also have what old-timers call a “cowlick”. Cowlicks notoriously won’t lie flat. Think Alfalfa from “The Little Rascals.” Could be that’s why Mom used the cowcatcher.
It is why I’ve been seeing the same barber for more than thirty years. Jinx can cut cowlicks. Jinx is not her real name, but I want to protect her privacy. Plus, how cool would it be to have a barber named Jinx.
If you don’t frequent bars, a good barber is priceless in another way — you can tell them all your problems, and they will never judge you. Sometimes, the only support you’ll ever get is from your barber, especially when you’ve done something stupid, or if it involves women. The two are the same, you know.
This week Jinx and I discussed everything from how long eggs left in a hot car are good to use, to how long after a breakup should we wait before dating new people again.
The answer in both cases was three weeks.
John O. Marlowe is a reporter, sports writer and award-winning columnist for The Paper.
John O. Marlowe is a reporter, sports writer and award-winning columnist for The Paper.