Brush Your Britches

This past week everyone in our house was groomed and  brought up to snuff, starting with the cats. Our short-haired tabby looks about an inch smaller in diameter since we took the furminator to her on Saturday. The birds have scads of grey hair to line their nests now. Our long-haired tortie has really furry back legs that make her look like she is wearing fuzzy pants.  She gets a slicker brush.  “It’s time to brush your britches” we tell her.  She isn’t real impressed with the procedure.

Husband’s barber moved to a new and improved space with four barber chairs,  a coffee bar, and beer parlour.  The barber is a devout Catholic who named his new shop after St. Martin de Porres, an influential New World priest during the 1500’s and 1600’s in Peru who is the patron saint of mixed-race people, barbers, innkeepers, public health workers, and all those seeking racial harmony.  Husband has curly hair and is fussy how his hair gets cut. He is happy with his barber. He had neither beer nor coffee during his hair cut.

My hair dresser of 30 years had a stroke a couple of months ago, so now I have to get used to a new hair dresser.  She is working out pretty well, but I must admit it takes a bit to get used to a new person messing with my hair, especially since my old hair dresser and I know each other so well and she knows the quirks of my hair and what works and what doesn’t. Change is hard, sometimes.

How would you define your relationship with your barber or hair dresser. How have your animals taken to being groomed?

56 thoughts on “Brush Your Britches”

  1. I am extremely reactive to the smell of nail polish and hair permanent. I cannot go into beauty parlors. There is only one barbershop, in the sense of a place for men to get their haircut by a barber and not a beautician, although it does cut the hair of a few women, perhaps because they have my sensitivities.
    A place opened in the mall that was a bar and place to get your hair cut. It too smelled. Can you drink a beer amidst those odors? I noticed a few months later it was only a hair place, perhaps because they lost their liquor license since it aimed at college kids. When the police do stings here on serving underage people, almost every bar they try fails. A few places have gone out of existence from it.Then a few months later it specialized in cutting hair for people of African heritage, men and women, with more than enough African people in town to keep it thriving. A few months later it closed despite having it seemed a constant trade. Sorry for that.
    But I am at my male place, only six blocks away, as are most businesses in this town, or at least within a mile of me. But I do not like it really. Its all sports stuff all the time. ESPN on all the time. A couple big dumb old bullies hang out there. But I discovered that if I go in at 7:30. despite their opening time being 8, I can get right in and out and avoid the male excesses. I have to drill them every time to use no scents and not shave the back with cream. Every so often they forget about the cream and then I try to rush right home and shower off the odor. But i end up sick all day.
    They are two good barbers who will be in business long after I am gone. They too dislike some of the excess and get tired of the whining about sports teams. They will tell me those things at 7:45. One has two children, now adults, adopted from Korea, not something I assume approved by the Trumpite crowd.
    OT funny story. Sandy and our grandkids were in Papa Murphy’s buying take and bake pizzas. Grand daughter took a picture of the menu on her Iphone to show her mother because she could not remember what kind they liked. Lily took the picture over the top of a man and woman in their 30s in front of them. The wife noticed and asked to see the picture.She then showed it to her husband and said, “See, I told you you have a bald spot.”

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  2. hair… my dogs shed like fiends, my cats hardly get notices for their shedding in comparison. the dogs are not allowed a vote in the brushing process. they are told to come and take the medicine and they cower and hide thei heads and hope it will pass.each brushing of the dogs leave us with multiple wads of fluff. when we peel them off the dog brush it comes out as a softball sized wad and then ends up being a briefcase sized wad by the time we are done. i used to save the dog har with the thought i would have a sweater or hat woven from my old friends never did, stopped saving the hair. my cats dont get brushed, they handle it and i clean up the hairballs later.

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    1. my barber who i went to every 10 day back in the day, felt sick one day went to the doctor found out he had brain cancer and was dead in 3 weeks. i went to his next door neighbor but didnt like the vibe. the next guy was a friend who did a terrible job with my beard. i went to a friends wife who was wonderful but charged me the budget price of 35 dollars insead of her usual 65 and i cut back to getting it cut every 3 or 4 weeks. she made the comment that my hair was so easy that you could do it with a #3 clipper. i asked her what that was and she said that was the measurment they put on the plastic guard they put over the silver clipper part of the shears. i went home and sure enough i had a # 3 and tried it myself and had hair that looked like a home project for a couple of tries until i got my brain turned around.(everything is backwards in the mirror) and now i have been doing my own for about 10 or 15 years. it made my friends wife think i didnt like her work. i guess i should have just told her it was the 35 plus tip madeit a 50 dollar stop every time. the beard was a challange but now that i have that down i am all set. i just have to go downstairs to use the good shears (my sone keeps them down there where he trims his beard daily} and in 1 1/2 minutes i am done. i dont wear it #3 length any more but i am a little more adept at faking it with the shears.
      so my hairdresser is that wonderful human being i see in the mirror and i forgive him every time he screws up
      my dad used to say the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is 3 days.
      a friend once told me the only one who notices a bad hair day is you. so relax.
      i did.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. When I was a kid, I dreaded going to the barber more thanI did the dentist. Barbershops in those days (and maybe still today) were relentlessly, self-consciously masculine institutions, with Argosy magazines on the waiting bench and redolent of hair tonics . Once I was in his chair, the barber would ask my opinions about various sports teams and individuals, about which I knew nothing and cared even less. At that young age, I wasn’t self-possessed enough to simply declare my disinterest and so would make vague, non-committal answers to his questions.

    For the last few decades, I’ve had my hair cut at nearby budget salon—Great Clips, Costcutters—whatever is closest to my residence at the time. Since cutting my hair is simply a matter of snapping the right length attachment to the clipper and cutting all my hair to that length, it matters little which hair stylist I get. Sports talk is seldom proffered and if it is, I nip it in the bud.

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    1. I rarely differ from Bill as much as I do in this case. For thirty years I had the same barber, Ray, who owned a two-chair barbershop. Stuffed fish and a cheap duck hunting print on the wall. And U of MN sports photos. It was a man’s shop. Few women entered there except to escort a son or boyfriend.

      I’m shy, but after a decade or so you learn what topics work. Ray was way to the left of me politically, which was fun. He was fascinated by my dating in my 60s, although he didn’t get to hear the best stories. It was a comfortable fit for me. I don’t ever know how to describe the cut I want, but Ray knew.

      In recent years I’ve been forced to go to inexpensive salon chain operations. I never get the same barber. I never know what to say I want done. The relationship is impersonal . . . which I don’t like and Bill does.

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      1. This is apropos of nothing that Steve said, but it triggered a memory that Steve may share. When I first moved to the West Bank in the late ‘60s, there were remnants of its earlier incarnations remaining—Holtzerman’s, which had a basement level of imported German goods that looked as if they had been there since the ‘40s, Elasky’s grocery, which was tiny and Mr. Elasky attended to you personally, and Ben Magdon’s barber shop. Ben never cut my hair—I wasn’t getting many haircuts in those days—but he was an amateur painter and the upper portion of the walls was lined with his work. He was also a survivor of the Death March of Bataan.

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        1. We had an old guy in Dickinson who survived Bataan. He had terrible PTSD, and you could always tell when he was having flashbacks because you would see him trudging up and down the main highway through town carrying water bottles.

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        2. I sure remember Holtzerman’s. Oddest inventory I’ve ever encountered. I should have shopped at Elasky’s, and did a bit, but in those days I couldn’t afford to go to grocery stores. There was a charming ice cream parlor (turn of the century in style) across the street from Dudley Riggs’ Brave New Workshop. The name was Samuelson’s Confectionary. Hagen’s Appliances was notable for the huge neon sign showing a cowboy roping a steer.

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        3. Samuelson’s ice cream shop was run by two elderly ladies, as I remember. Oddly, the building—at least the exterior and signage—remained unchanged for decades after the ice cream shop closed.

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  4. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    My hair is fine with “strong growth patterns,” m eaning it is difficult.

    Therefore I find hair care to be an expensive proposition. Many hair stylists are expensive and flighty. The woman I have now is good and stays put. I am in her hands, hair wise, leaving me feeling dependent and at her mercy just so I can disguise the hair loss and cowlicks.

    It is my tonsorial vanity.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have no animals to groom as I am allergic in general. My own hair is low maintenance. I am very fortunate to have thick, wavy hair which I keep long, so I only get it trimmed about twice a year. I just refuse to spend the ridiculous amount of money many women do for beautiful coiffures with the latest foils and coloring. Although I admit to being a tad jealous when I see a gal with a gorgeous cut and color job.

    Many years ago, I had my hair in a layered cut and had the highlights done, but the upkeep is ridiculous. My stylist was a handsome young man who did a wonderful job, but of course, he moved on.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Our Welsh Terrier hated being groomed. She had to wear a nose mitten so she wouldn’t bite the groomer, who somehow always managed to give her the most dapper beard.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My first haircuts as a child were at Kay’s Jip Joint in Luverne, run by Kay Aanenson, a Norwegian bachelor barber who spent much of the 1920’s as a professional dancer on cruise ships. He was a champion Charleston dancer. He wore really gaudy plaid suits to church in his later years. My mom would tell my dad “Don’t let Kay give hera pixie” whenever he took me to Kay’s. I would invariably home home with a pixie. Kay’s solution to crying children in his barber chair was to stuff their mouths with stick after stick of chewing gum, usually with some hair clippings in it.

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  8. I have a deshedding tool for the cats which is a knock-off of the Furminator. The cats love it. There are a lot of places on a cat that cannot be self-groomed, especially the upper back and neck. Even the lower back is hard for a cat to reach. Sammy doesn’t seem to groom his tail himself, so when I deshed his tail I get a ton of fur out of it.

    I had a hair stylist a number of years ago who also had a stroke. Still miss her. She only charged $10 for a trim. Those were the days…

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Daughter inherited her father’s curly hair. She hates it. She wears it long, and straightens it every day. She has one patch of curly cowlick in the middle of one eyebrow and curses her father’s curls frequently.

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  10. When I was a kid I had a lot of thick curly hair. Mom cut my hair for a long time using several different methods. I was not a good subject to practice on.
    For several years I went to a cosmetology training school. It was cheap, they washed my hair and it might be cute girls doing it. In fact, I met one there who is still a good friend.
    They used to tell me “You have a lot of hair!”.
    No one tells me that anymore… It’s kinda thick in the back, but nowhere else. I’m like George in that one Seinfeld episode where the guy tells George, “You have lost a lot of hair!”. And he responds, “I am aware!”.

    For a while I went to an old fashioned barber. I liked him. He’d been doing it for a lot of years and got to the point he had to use one hand to hold up the other hand with the clippers. And he closed shortly after that.

    Kelly cuts my hair these days. It’s pretty simple.

    My mom cut my dads hair for a long time. So long she got tired of doing it and wanted to quit. But Dad would insist. He didn’t have much either. It was Thin and wispy. So mom hid the clippers. “I can’t cut your hair! I can’t find the clippers!”.
    Dad found them for her.
    I’ve told Kelly I hope I don’t get her to the point she has to hide the clippers.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. In the cities I went to my friend Diana’s salon (where I eventually sold my books on wall of that gorgeous old building – 50th and Bryant across the alley from the Malt Shop). When she moved on, I stayed with one of the women from there who was like-minded in politics, worldview, and spirituality, something I don’t find in most hairdressers. I still miss her.

    I’m on my second stylist here – with this short haircut, I need one about every 6 weeks. He’s good but have found much to talk about. Oh well, at least he listens, and I get the cut I want.

    I cut Husband’s hair, and it takes me less time than it used to. 🙂 I’m not a great hair cutter, but as tim’s dad said: “the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is 3 days”.

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  12. As a toddler I had long hair with some curl. When my mom was in the hospital having my younger sister, dad apparently got tired of trying to unsnarl my hair so he took me to the barber (Ed) who gave me my first dreaded pixie cut. Mom was appalled when she came home. But I continued to get pixie cuts from Ed until sixth grade – and my curls never appeared again. Then it was off the the beauty shop. While still early elementary school age, all three of us girls had our bangs “trimmed” by mom. You can guess the results of that – “this side is longer than the other so I have to trim the other side” – ending up with bangs less than an inch long! We joked about that for decades. We also suffered from Toni home perms occasionally. Oh the smell!!!

    Nowadays I keep my fine textured, stick straight hair short which means cuts about every 6 weeks. I’ve had the same stylist for many years now and luckily she is very familiar with the cowlicks and growth patterns of my hair.

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    1. BiR: I think I have some historical perspective on “perms.” In the 1940s women went to salons to “get a perm” (meaning to have their hair cut and styled). The perm would only last so long, and then they’d have to go back to have it renewed. Toni was one of the new hair styling options, offering a product that could be applied at home. For years Toni’s advertising featured pictures of two identical models and the caption, “Can you spot the twin with the Toni?” In other words, this home kit could give you a perm as good as what you’d pay to have done for you.

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    2. My sister used to get those, too. She usually looked like she was electrified, but she thought she was Beautiful and would flounce around the house like a model.

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  13. I’ll never forget the barbershop in Ames in the 1950s, although I don’t remember the name. It might have been the OK Barbershop. It was downtown, of course. All commerce was downtown except a few grocery stores. The barbershop occupied a store on Main Street that was long and extremely narrow. The walls on both sides were covered with mirrors from waist level up to one of those embossed tin ceilings that were put up around the turn of the century (turning from the 19th to the 20th, that is). Midway through the 20th century those ceilings were an embarrassment that store owners were hiding under acoustic tile and fluorescent light fixtures. Because the two mirrored walls faced each other at such close range, when you looked at any wall you saw a fantastic array of reflections, a sort of regression to infinity that reminded me of the kid on the Cracker Jack box who held a Cracker Jack box with a tiny picture of a kid . . ; .

    The barbershop had a peculiar smell thanks to all the hair styling products (lines of products sold only in barbershops).

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  14. My current “stylist” is a black man named Andre. He’s very nice, but I don’t think he’s very confident in cutting this white woman’s naturally wavy, fine hair. Usually when you go to a salon for a hair cut, the first thing they do is wash your hair, and then cut it while it’s wet. That’s not how Andre does it. Once seated, he sprays my hair with a bottle of cold water, which isn’t particularly comfortable unless it’s really hot out, and then he cuts it. After cutting it he washes it in a very perfunctory way, but only if I have told him beforehand that I’d like it washed.

    Now I’ll admit that black hair is a mystery to me, so I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a black man might be mystified by mine, but surely he must have been exposed to all kinds of hair in beauty school? I want him to succeed with his little shop, but I have yet to see another paying customer in his salon on the four occasions when he has cut my hair. Inevitably, he has some visitor who he’s chatting with when I arrive, but although he always greets me and immediately gives me his attention, I still feel like an interloper. I keep going back to Andre because he’s close by, very reasonably priced, and I like to support small, minority owned businesses, but I really don’t think he’s going to make it unless he steps up his game. Should I tell him?

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  15. My best friend was a barber in TH. He would not put in a TV. His radio played MPR classical softly. He on occasion kicked people out for complaining about his music or sports or politics or anything.

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    1. sounds like a dream job. do it your way and tell those who dont get it to stay away. if you are going to live in your life you may as well make the rules and be happy

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        1. got it thanks
          i know that riddle from elsewhere
          it’s a good one and i have thought about it sitting in the barber shop with 3 or 4 barbers in it

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  16. however may years ago it was i decided to shave my head one night. it was pretty funny. i had no shears with me. we were in florida so i sat in the hot tub with a razor and shaved until it was all gone. i think the wine was done first then the hair. i thought id enjoy it and i did but i couldnt tolerate the stubble. i couldnt let it go for a week or even 2 days. id soak in the tub for a long enough time to make the shaving real easy. i need a good sharp razor and enough hot water to finish the job. a tub is great but a shower needs x minutes until i have finished the job shaving and simoly rubbing your other hand over the finished spot tells you if you need to go back and get the reamainder. i finally got tired of the 15 minutes a day. i let the hair grow back in the short term to see if i wasok with it and i ever went back. been tempted a few times as my hair nowadays is kind of a wreck. i went for a long time with no shampoo. then i started going to the health club and the hot tub water made it feel like rice paper so i had to try washing it every now and again. today i am realizing i cut it two or three times a year and deal with it on an as needed basis. when its short i need no shampoo/conditioner but i cant remember if thats because i wasnt going to the hot tub or not. a lot of discussion for so littel hair. i can be done now

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  17. clydes barber and the black barbershop ar ethe opposite ends of the spectrum . the black barbershop is a meeting place for the community to come in and chat, kind of like the coffee in mcdonalds or perkins for old white guys. i dont know this from experience but i have read it and there was/is a barbershop in southdale that was dying a slow death as a normal barbershop, then it became a black barbershop and was full of black guys laughing and having a good old time with very loud back and forth and it got busier and busier as time went on. i never saw black guys in southdale and all of a sudden there was a community of them in the barber shop. i never got the impression the group was there to get their haircut but simply to discuss the important topics of the day and catch up with whoever was going to be getting their haircut that day.
    i meet with people to discuss business in mastermind and networking groups but it is a 5 dollar coffee or a 10 dollar breakfast or a 25 dollar lunch. i think watching the haircut crowd makes better sense

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    1. Andre’s shop has been in existence less than a year. He took it over after Fantastic Sam’s closed with no warning. He’s a sweet guy, very fastidious, but just doesn’t seem to “get” some very basic concepts. For instance, I’m the only customer in the shop. He’s just finished cutting my hair and is now going to shampoo what remains. He then makes it a priority to sweep up the hair and clean around the chair rather than washing my hair. I stand there with my cape covering me, feeling stupid, while he’s sweeping the floor around the chair. Note: there’s no one else waiting to take my place. I’m sure he doesn’t intend to offend me, but it just seems so illogical to me that it’s more important to him that his workstation (there are five or six others – but no other customers and no other stylists) is meticulous rather than taking care of his customer. Am I just way out of line in my expectation of customer service?

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      1. no hes really messed up

        point it out to him and help him get his head on straight.
        tell him his job is to do the best with the customer in front of him and to figure out how to get another in and treat them as the most important customer in the world while they are there.
        tell him to wash you hair first then cut instead of his way. ask him how he came up with that. you have been to a million hair cuts and no one sprays you with water and washed your hair after. its always the other way around
        make it helpful not critical and he will know the only reason you say anything is that you want ot help
        ask him if he ever thought of renting out his other chairs
        hair people bring their customers with them. if he can get others to help fill the place up and take 100 a chair plus 10% or something like that he could possibly turn it around quicker and create a salon atmosphere.
        can hans make it the official pickleball salon? maybe the pickle cball banners on the wall of the salon would be a draw for old white guys and gals

        thanks for caring about this guy pj
        thats really nice.

        he sounds a little slow so you may have to be gentle in the way you offer encouragement. slow folks are accustomed to getting told they are doing it wrong (but not too many buy there own business) *(then again it may simply be that its a bad idea with no other barbers and bad social skills and customer service.

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        1. Bless your heart, tim. Hans and I have discussed this every single time I’ve come home from having a haircut by Andre. One reason I’m reluctant to say anything is that I don’t want to be another white person telling a black person what to do. But clearly, this guy is not going to make it if he doesn’t somehow figure out that what he’s doing isn’t working. I’ve recommended the salon to two friends, and neither of them intend to go back because of his ass backward approach. Maybe what I need to do is pack a lunch for two and go visit him sometime when no on else is there. Farmers market is starting right in front of his business this coming Friday, and may well present a good opportunity to do that in an inconspicuous manner.

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        2. Rather than ‘telling’ him it’s wrong, you could ask ‘why’ he does something the way he does. And then turn it into a discussion about pros and cons.

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  18. Ironically, i just recently wrote about finding a new stylist before stumbling on to this article! We as hair stylists get very attached to you as the client as well, it’s a very intimate relationship. So many feels when we find out that a client has passed away or isn’t in top health. Great read, thank you!!

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