Sunday, June 20, 2010
My Dad the Barber
I'm bald, so my trips to the barber shop are buzz cuts (3-metal). No fuss, no muss. But back in my hair days, back when I was growing up, I had hair, and the person who cut that hair was my father, my Dad.
Was it the expense of cutting hair for three boys that led my Dad to this? If so, I certainly wasn't aware of it. What I was aware of, and what I most remember was discomfort. Other boys were talking about trips to the barber shop. Even my Dad got his hair cut at a barber. Me? My "old man" was my barber.
During the summers, when I most needed a hair cut, Dad would cut my hair outside ("al fresco hair cutting?"). There we were, in our backyard, people walking by, watching my hair getting cut. It felt mildly embarrassing. For a smock, to cover me during the hair cut, Dad would use a garbage bag. He would cut out slots so we could "wear" it over our head.
My first trip to a barber other than my Dad was in college. I had no idea how to talk to a barber. "Uh, make it shorter?" I had no clue about blocking versus tapering, buzz versus styled. I felt a mild frustration: my Dad didn't prepare me! Of course, over time, I learned the lingo, and developed a rapport with these barbers.
My Dad and I didn't have much of a hair cutting rapport. He was "the strong and silent" type when I was growing up. But to make talk, he'd always ask after my friends. I wouldn't be surprised if I offered only vague responses. When I think back now, I imagine how the answer to that one question would have changed over the years, from grade school, through high school, and yes, even through college.
A whole young lifetime has gone now. Him quietly cutting my hair. Me growing up.
I worry now whether I ever properly showed my gratitude. Parents do things for kids without them even knowing the effort behind it. I know this now as a father. From the food on their plate, to the clothes on their backs, a child can take it all for granted. They should.
Thank you, Dad, for all those hair cuts when I was growing up. You know I don't need them anymore, but sometimes I wish I did.