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Growing up at a Barbershop by RicardoBarber


This story is not about a specific haircut, but about an experience of how it was growing up in a barbershop environment.

My name is Ricardo (you can just call me Ric). I live in the city of Serra Talhada, Brazil. My grandfather David (Portuguese for David) was a barber and had two children: my father Mateus (Portuguese for Matthew) and my uncle Antonio (Portuguese for Anthony). My grandfather worked in a barbershop in the garage of our house with a friend and "teacher". With the death of his friend, my grandfather "inherited" the barbershop. You must be finding it odd that the barbershop in our garage did not belong to my grandfather, but that's a subject for another story. My father and my uncle learned how to be barbers with my grandfather. My uncle moved to another city where he opened his own barbershop, while my father went to work with my grandfather. In 1993, my father had a son (it’s me), whom he cared for with the help of my grandfather after my mother died. And this is where our story begins.

Many of you talked about your childhood experiences when your parents took you to a barber when they thought you needed a haircut. I wonder many of you tried to get away from those haircuts ever using the excuse the barber shop was too full, or that it was already closed when you arrived. I've never had this lucky. With my father as my "private barber" (and my grandfather as "substitute barber") the barbershop was always open for me. As long as I can remember, I've always had the same haircut. My dad would buzz my hair with # 0 on sides and back and # 1 on top. I received this cut every first Saturday of every month. In March of 1999 I went to school. The day before school started I received my monthly haircut. When classes started the next day, all the kids had hair that was longer than mine and they all laughed at me. I did not like that cut and now I liked it even less. Only a one boy in the room did not laugh at me, Everton, who became my best friend on that day. When I got home I told my dad what had happened. At bedtime, my father went to my room and told me that that cut was my grandfather's idea, and that he had convinced my father that I would like. He said he never liked to give me that cut and was happy to say I would not have that cut again.

Leaving school aside and back to story, with the exception of the semi-obligatory haircut, the barbershop was a very fun place. When I wasn’t doing my homework, playing or watching TV I used to go to the barbershop to spend my free time there. There were all kinds of clients: boys, young men, adults, old men, men who cut their hair almost bald, men who just got a trim, men who shaved their heads completely, blondes, browns, redheads, white-haired people. Each one had a history and a way of speaking. And the two barbers always followed their customers.

One day I invited my friend Éverton to play at home after school. His father took him in the afternoon. Everton’s dad was surprised by the barbershop and my grandfather invited him to cut his hair there. He ended up accepting it and my dad and I struggled to contain our laughter because we knew what my grandfather liked to do with his "new clients". In less than five minutes Everton’s dad was completely bald with the typical reaction of disbelief on his face. Everton also cut his hair there, but with my father, who cut his hair like he always got when he went to the barber (according to his father). Buzz with # 2 on the sides and behind, # 3 on top. I liked this cut and since I was two months without cutting my hair, I asked my father to give me the cut of Éverton. In the end, we were all laughing at the situation and my father and my grandfather had two new clients.

Sometimes it happened from the barber shop being crowded with customers, so that some had no place to sit. At such times, my father and grandfather had to work faster to be able to serve all clients. Sometimes it was the complete opposite, the barbershop was almost empty. At times like this, my father and grandfather could work more at ease, give a relaxing massage to clients (young people scared to have to cut their hair long), offer a juice or soda. I enjoyed those quiet moments because I could see their work more closely. I have seen many kinds of cuts and transformations happen in those old barbers' chairs.

In 2008, I was already starting to help my father my grandfather with small jobs at the barbershop. At that time, my father also began teaching me how to be a barber, how to cut hair, how to make some cuts and how to shave another person. I ended up discovering that I had a "natural talent" for it. Occasionally I would replace my father or grandfather in the barbershop, but that’s a subject for another story.




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