Monday, September 3, 2012

A Day At The Barber Shop

One recent morning, I was confronted with a terrifying sight. My hair was spiking in various directions like some horror-movie mohawk haircut. The stale grease had the spikes all askew and running a comb through my hair turned out to be a rather painful experience. This was clearly a sign that I was badly in need of a haircut. I usually try to go to the barber shop on a regular basis, but I had somehow put it off either due to procrastination or or an unwillingness to go through the lengthy de-greasing process.

I was looking forward to it because a trip to the barber shop is a quintessential dude experience. It is a male ritual that goes back far into the sands of time and has not lost its allure. Even cavemen enjoyed the ritual. I can almost picture it. A bunch of barbaric dudes sitting around a fire, drinking fermented fire-water, hurling rocks at each other and drawing crude boobie pictures in the sand, all the while howling with laughter at all the overt flatulence being produced. As their turn would come up, each caveman would sit on a special rock with a tiny built in ashtray. The cave-barber would sharpen his special rock and whack the the other caveman on the head with it until his hair was shorter. He would then slap some sabre-toothed tiger urine on the back of his neck and would then grunt "ungh!" which can roughly be translated as " next!".

Not much has changed since then and I was looking forward to some caveman... I mean dude-time. From time to time, boys need to be boys and a barber shop is one of the few male-only enclaves where one can indulge one's self. Hanging around a garage with the boys can be fun too, but the neighbors and usually the owner of said garage's wife take a dim view on all the dudes pissing on the flowers. Hunting can be okay as well, but there is to much risk involved, mainly from other drunken hunters somehow mistaking you for a moose. Also it's cold and it stinks. Bars are great as well, but your buddies soon lose interest in any conversation or male bonding due to all the distractions of the female variety. So, yes the barber shop is the ultimate dude place and even more so for greasers. There is no danger of being mocked or thought of as strange as we discuss the merits of various hair products for an hour.


I made my appointment and begun the tedious two-day process of de-greasing my hair. Most barbers take a dim view on powerful grease because it gums up their scissors  and can be a potential fire hazard. Lately, I have been using Dax removing shampoo and it works pretty well. Turpentine is good as well. (That was a joke, don't actually try that at home).

Sunday afternoon rolled around and I made my way downtown. Dominion Barbers is located in a touristy part of town that features a strange mix of high-end shops and skid hotels. A small section the this part of town was closed off due to a chili festival. Adjacent to that was a sell-all-your-crap festival. As I navigated the gauntlet of crackheads, crazy bums and wide-eyed tourists I tried to ignore all the stuff randomly laid down on blankets.I didn't want clutter my brain with all the crap that had either been rescued from the garbage or stolen. The vague smell of urine that permeated the air was distracting me and I wanted to get the next street over as quickly as possible. That's when a bona fide bum-fight broke out. Seems one bum had stole some piece of crap from another bum and a fight broke out. That's some good entertainment right there. Once the short scrap was over, I cut across what is possibly the city's filthiest alley and arrived at my far more civilized destination.



Here is an interior shot of Dominion Barbers located on Abbot st. in Vancouver's Gastown. You can't tell in this shot, but the owner's friendly bulldog is usually hanging around, and that cute critter just adds to the ambiance. If you look carefully on the table at the right, you might notice a bunch of vintage Playboy magazines. My good friend Scot was waiting for me and threw on some cool tunes. Scot is indeed the pomp-master and relishes any opportunity to work on one. A good pomp takes anywhere from forty five minutes to an hour to do properly, so I sat in the vintage and got comfortable. I'm not sure what makes tourists gawk at some dude getting a haircut, but there was no shortage of those yahoos gaping at the window as they would at a car crash.

To add to the overall dude-ness of the situation, some pretty girls from the bar next door kept bringing us cocktails. I am usually wary of a situation that involves booze and pointy objects near my eyeball, but Scot had it under control, and I grabbed most of the booze for myself.

As the haircut progressed, various dudes dropped by just to shoot the shit. The dude-centric conversations ran the gamut of topics and included rants about why rap music sucks, what a skank Britney Spears is, how the hell was some cop able to apprehend a guy on a paddle board, and why did the last drink taste like mouthwash.  We ragged on hipsters and how stupid their haircuts are and also made fun of dudes who let their girlfriend dictate what type of haircut they should get. As my haircut session came to a close the gals next door brought us all shots of Alaskan whiskey ( I don't know or even want to know).

I guess that I can grudgingly admit that we are pomp-geeks. I had brought along several types of new grease for my barber to sample and now that the haircut was done, I greased it up and worked it with a comb. Scot had time for one more customer and some random tourist had wandered in for a cut and sat in the chair. I tried not to smirk as I saw him giving strange looks as I slapped copious quantities of some extra-greasy shit in my hair ( Dax High & Tight Awesome Hold this time). It's a greasy thing, boy, you wouldn't understand!


Another aspect of the overall experience of the barber shop is that a lot of dudes usually end up hanging out afterward. We hung out on the sidewalk for a little while and some greasy-wannabe hipsters walked by and gave us the hairy eyeball. They hadn't quite figured out what their look was supposed to be so they just ended looking like they probably would have had when they were posing for their second grade school pictures. They scowled at our freshly cut pomps and puffed their chest out slightly. They kept walking briskly as we looked on with a bemused expression.

Scot magically produced a few Red Stripe beers for yet another bar, and that's when I realized that barber chairs are optimally designed to be beer drinking chairs as well. Mighty comfortable and the little built in ashtray is cool as well.

It was time to close shop, so I made my way home. I was feeling pretty good, because nothing can give your self-esteem a boost like a nice, fresh haircut. Some tourists gawked as I walked down the street with the grease glinting in the sun and a couple of cops scowled. I guess they have some kind of preconceived notion that greasy people are always up to no good. I didn't give a damn, it was a nice day and I was gonna grab a few beers down by the water.

As I cracked a beer and looked at the boats bobbing up and down with bored rich people on their decks, a thought suddenly occurred to me. I had been toying with the idea of buying a motorcycle in the near future. It dawned on me that motorcycle helmets and pomps can be difficult to reconcile. I might just have to invent my own. Just another dude dilemma I guess.

I don't need no stinkin' helmet



















































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