In the car this weekend, I had to misfortune to hear an ad on the radio. It was for a men’s hair salon with a business model similar to Knockouts. If you don’t know, Knockouts is a franchise chain of hair salons for men with more than 500 locations in 29 states. They are sports themed (specifically boxing and mixed martial arts), and the hair stylists are busty young women who wear t-shirts and short shorts. It’s like Hooters, except with hair cutting. The whole idea is to create a haircut “experience.” You pay for this haircut “experience” at the salon with the same outrageously inflated prices that women pay to get their hair “done.”
I don’t know the details of this knock-off Knockouts, but it sounds like the same thing. If this sounds appealing to you, then go for it. To me, the whole idea just sounds gross. It’s just a question of values. I value competent hair-cutting over being attended by a Hooters girl moonlighting as a barber.
It’s also a matter of aesthetics. There are certain areas in my life where my sense of aesthetics is rigidly old fashioned. Somehow, getting my hair cut is one of these areas.
My, How Times Change
I suppose I should explain. My wife and I recently purchased my parents’ house. It was the house I grew up in. When I was five years old or so, my father took me around the corner (the building is literally over my back fence) to a barber shop owned by an old Italian man named Don.
For a quarter of a century, Don was the only man to cut my hair. It was the same routine every time. I would go in, wait my turn seated next to all the other men, and when it was my turn, I’d sit in the chair while Don talked to the old men. He cut hair very well, but I could never understand a damn thing he said. He never offered fancy services. He would have stared at me blankly if I asked for a “fade.” He never asked me what I wanted. I just sat in the chair, he cut, and then I paid him.
That was my haircut “experience.”
For decades and decades Don owned that barber shop and parked his new Cadillac out front (one of the advantages of an all-cash business). Then, sometime in his eighties, Don decided to retire and sold his shop. Working every day does something for a man, and some men, when they stop working, well, they stop living. Six months into his retirement, Don had a stroke and died soon after.
The current owner is a young guy named Frankie. Frankie is a young guy. He draws a younger crowd. Last time I was there, I waited forty minutes while Frankie touched up the “fade” of some young idiot who had far too little going on in his life and was far too picky about his hair. I don’t know what that young idiot was going to do the next day, because merciful heaven help him if his “fade” grew a micron longer overnight. He would be beside himself.
Frankie cuts hair just fine. He’s younger, so he drives a Honda instead of a Caddy, and I can understand what he says, so we talk about cats. He redecorated the barber shop. It now has more mirrors, and he’s a sports fan so there are items with some team name on them. But despite the above-mentioned young idiot, there’s still plenty of old men, Don’s old customers, who still come in. So my timeless conservative barber shop aesthetic is mostly preserved.
Man vs. Dude
Don didn’t have a salon. Men don’t go to salons. Men go to barber shops. They don’t go to stylists. Don wasn’t a stylist. He was a barber.
Don (and now Frankie) didn’t give a haircut “experience.” It was just a barber shop, a place where men go to get their hair cut. To sit, with other men, read the paper (or, in my case, volume six of the World War Two Encyclopedia) and wait for an old man with an apron and a pair of scissors (or sometimes an electric razor) to do to you what he did to every other man.
Allegedly, Knockouts are “dude places,” places where men gather to do “dude” things, such as watch sports while some chick in a tight t-shirt cuts your hair.
This is not masculinity. It is not manliness. It is nonsense.
What ever happened to men’s values? What happened to the men who valued simplicity? What ever happened to the men who valued frugality?
Call me rigidly old-fashioned, but the idea of a haircut “experience” is obscene. It is the height of frivolity. It is the height of decadence. The idea of having a Hooters girl cut your hair is just gross. It degrades her and it degrades you. To pay extra for it is the height of idiocy.