08 Jul 2010

A Barbershop Duet: First off, Brice's

Photo by María Helena Carey

I hesitate to start a post in this fashion: sometimes I wish I were a man, so I could get my hair cut at a barbershop — although of course, some women do actually get their hair cut at barbershops and wouldn’t spend anything north of $15 or go into a place that offers anything fancier than talc on your neck afterward.

Maybe I should do it, and soon, so that way I wouldn’t suffer in the one-hundred-degree heat: I’d have just about one millimeter of hair all around my head, styled into a Marine fade or perhaps just a High and Tight.  Or perhaps I’d flirt with a gorgeous mullet ‘do, just because who wouldn’t want a haircut that’s business up front and a party in the back?  I might even get my initials styled on the sides.  Then again, what are children for, if not to serve as vicarious agents of barbershop dream fulfillment?

Once I’ve decided what kind of hairstyle would suit me…. ahem, my child best, I would hightail it down to 8th Street, SE, where I have my choice of not just one but two barbershops –Brice’s Barbershop and Sneed’s 8th and I– that cater to the Barracks, the Navy Yard, and any man who wants to look sharp and keep it cropped close on a regular basis.

For the uninitiated, both locales offer a haircut at reasonable prices and for all ages.  An average cut at either one will run you between $11 and $15, depending on what your needs are.

And then, there are the differences: first off, Brice’s.

At Brice’s you will probably be greeted by Sheila.  Sheila is friendly and boisterous and she can be heard distinctly above the din of the television — which is always on — and that of other conversations going on in there.  You’ll be asked what you need, and much like at Starbucks, you will learn that asking for a short haircut has its own lingo and grammar.  And then you will wait a little while, before getting to sit at one of the old-fashioned barber chairs.

As she cuts, Sheila keeps it light talking to you and to the tiny patron in the seat and to the newcomers and those who are waiting.  She will talk about her dog; there will be talk about the Hill.  There may even be bits of gossip, if you listen closely enough: who spent far too much in unnecessary things; who is getting a divorce; whose house is up for sale; who may be two-timing whom.

The haircut will always be shorter than you expected.  I am sure generations of mothers and grandmothers (and wives, perhaps) have wrung their hands in agony when it is revealed just how short five millimeters are.  But since, at least for the kiddies, there is a treat involved at the end, all is forgiven and plans are immediately made for the next visit.

I think my kid needs a haircut.

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