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Oceanside by Crewcut
This summer, I spent a few weeks in California. Determined to get some regulation haircuts in military barbershops, I asked BuzzBoard buddies for the best addresses. Soon I knew: The one and only Mecca of military barbershops on the West Coast is Oceanside, near Camp Pendleton. I wanted to wait until the barbershop was real busy, so I decided to spend a weekend in Oceanside. Unfortunately all hotels were booked up, so I went to nearby San Clemente and checked in on a Friday afternoon.
When I looked out of my hotel window, I saw a barbershop called "Stud Cuts" across the street. Immediately, I tried to look into the barbershop window. I was amazed when I saw young female barbers giving extreme high and tight haircuts with razor shaves on the sides and back to military clientele.
More then ten guys were waiting for haircuts. I was tempted to go into the shop to get my first California haircut. But there were some reasons I resisted: My haircut destination was Oceanside, and also I prefer male barbers and traditional barbershops with traditional barber chairs. Stylists chairs are sometimes used in Austria, where I come from.
I finally got to Oceanside on Saturday afternoon. I found a free parking space directly in front of Oceanside barbershop. But I was disappointed about the unoccupied chairs. A glance to the right and I caught sight of the Esquire barbershop. They promised the best haircuts, with a neckshave included. I was very interested — then I saw empty chairs again and more female barbers. I walked on, looking for the Deluxe barbershop — another BuzzBoard recommendation.
I walked up to the shop.
It was a nice shop, with military regulations posted on the windowpane. I took a look through the open door and saw traditional barber chairs—all full—male barbers, and plenty of waiting Marines. I took a seat.
I loved the atmosphere of this busy barbershop. For my turn into the chair I decided to order a "Med Reg." The barber was an old Italian. We spoke about Venice and the Mafia and soon he was ready. When I took a look into the mirror I was disappointed with the result. It was a good haircut, short and neat - but not exciting. So I asked him to go shorter. He did, but the result was the same. So I left and went back to San Clemente, determined to go back to Oceanside for another haircut on Sunday afternoon. So I did.
There were lots of Marines in town, running errands, hanging out and waiting for their regulation haircuts. First I took a look into the "barbershop-factory" (I forgot the real name) right opposite the Deluxe barbershop. So many guys waiting for haircuts! So many barbers! Tempting ... but to many female barbers.
I walked on, and saw a lot of Marines going in one direction with good haircuts— and coming back with great ones. I followed, and stood in front of another Stud Cuts barbershop with all female barbers. They promised sexy military haircuts on their shirts and the guys lined up them. I became curious. I pulled a number and took seat on one of the couches with a good view of the chairs.
Some guys ordered HNT`s, but most of them got High Regs. I noticed a difference I hadn't seen before. A HNT is an extreme haircut — problematic if you are on the job and not a Marine. But a High Reg looks very smart. I decided to try a High Reg — but not in this shop. I went to the beach to surf, and came back to town at 8 PM to look for a busy shop with male barbers. I could find only one: the Esquire.
All the chairs were occupied and many Marines were waiting. I took a good look into the illuminated shop and I observed that the youngest barber did the best job — and he was incredibly fast. He did almost three cuts as the other barbers did one, and his had better results.
I knew it then: This was my barber.
I began to prepare a strategy to get hold of a place in this barbers chair. It was 9.40 PM when a guy left my selected chair. No one was waiting. Seizing the moment, I entered the barbershop and had took a seat in the chair.
"High Reg," I said.
"Sure," the barber said.
In the same moment I heard the intimate sound of the clippers. He let them jump over the back of my head, and all the way up the sides. They were the best vibrations I had ever felt. My occipital bone felt the cold steel of the clippers when the barber pressed on my head with his strong hand. Then he checked the result. I think he was satisfied with his work. I couldn't see myself (I was facing away from the mirror), but I had a good feeling as I got a neckshave with lather and razor.
When I checked the mirror, I saw that the barber had done the best job a barber could possibly do. The highlight: I got the military discount - what a deal!
I left the barbershop satisfied, rubbing my buzz like every guy leaving a barbershop in Oceanside. In this moment I looked like a Marine - and some real Marines actually half-saluted me, thinking I was one of them.
Afterwards I went to the Oceanside Regal Cinema to see the film, "The perfect Storm." Far more exciting than the film were the silhouettes of hundreds of freshly shorn Marines in front of me! This the crowning Oceanside-highlight for the year. But I'm definitely coming back next summer. 6000 miles for a haircut like THAT is more than OK by me!
I hope I can find a room for maybe two weeks/three weekends in Oceanside that's less expensive than the hotels I booked this year (200$/night!). Can anyone help me in this matter?
Finally, thank you BuzzBoarders for your great recommendations. Oceanside is a paradise for Military regulation haircuts, and you guys bucked up my courage. To all Buzz Boarders: Let me give you some advice - go to Oceanside - if possible - and look for a barbershop experience like I did. Semper fidels!