The place where guys get their hair cut. You just go there, you sit your ass down and read the two-month-old Sports Illustrated until the barber is good and ready for you. Then you get up, you tell him, "Short on top, shorter in the back," and then hold still. If you're lucky, you get to see what you look like before you pay him the $11.

Barber shops exist on a different side of the hair-care business from salons and stylists. The latter two are generally more about how your hair looks in terms of color and shape, while barbershops are all about getting it cut, and how you want it to look is only a concern insofar as it affects the amount of hair to be removed.

Your options at a barbershop are pretty simple. Shampoo? Shave? Tapered or blocked in back? Sideburns or not? Shears, shaver, or razor? Some places have other choices, or charge more for a long-hair cut (why, I still don't know), but you're basically there to have hair removed, and everything else is up to you. In return, you typically get a reasonable-looking head of hair at a price somewhat less than you'd pay to have a full-service stylist do a plain haircut.

Things to look for in a barbershop:

  • Lots of jars of blue liquid. This is the "Barbicide" disinfectant that the cutting/styling instruments (shears, combs, razors) go in when not in use. If your barbershop lacks them, find another, for your own safety.
  • Straight razors. In the proper hands, a straight razor gives an incredibly smooth, comfortable shave (this is where the hot towel wrap you see in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons comes in, though these days most places just use hot lather). In the improper hands, of course, you could end up with key blood vessels severed, so be cautious about actually letting them use one on you.
  • Large hand mirrors. The bigger, the better, so you don't have to play remote-control so much with the barber to see the back of your head.

Incidentally, though barbering is traditionally a male occupation, at the barbershop I visited today 3 of the 4 barbers on duty were female.

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