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My dad was a barber by Tate@mail.com

My dad was a barber and always liked cutting my hair. I would go to his one-chair shop after school most days. He was so happy there and was always glad to see me. It is only now in my adulthood, my father long passed, that I realize what a special relationship we had.

My father liked to satisfy those in his chair, and I saw him fulfill the most interesting requests—from mohawks to mullets to full head shaves. But when it came to my hair, he always knew best.

"Trey, you’re a barber’s son. Your hair has to look good," he would tell me with a grin. "You’re my advertisement!" He said this to me from such a young age that I never questioned it.

This normally meant my hair was a perfectly trimmed side-part with a short back and sides, neatly styled with hair cream. The degree of skin showing above my ears and shirt collar depended on the season and his mood. In the summers, he gave me an education in shorter cuts—showing me I could look good in a butch, crewcut, and ivy league, and teaching me the virtues of each style.

For reasons I don’t fully understand, I never complained about these weekly haircuts. Maybe it was the era—short hair on guys was popular then. He also made me feel special. I knew he loved me, and loved cutting my hair, and it made me happy to see him happy.

During my high school years, 1957-1961, he kept me in a flattop. I loved it, and he did to. It also made the weekly haircuts seem more appropriate. My friends, most of whom wore flattops, were even jealous of me: their parents would only pay for a haircut every few weeks. My dad was the most sought after flattop barber in town, which made me proud, and my flat always looked perfect.

I remember my friend Eddie coming in to get his first flattop. He was so excited, but his red hair was just too curly. My dad kept taking it down shorter and shorter with his Andis clippers, then adding more butch wax, but it just continued to curl. When my dad felt like he had taken more scalp than he should, he told Eddie that God didn’t want him to have a flattop and that there would be no charge for this curly-buzz. But Eddie saw the landing strip on top and was already sold. He came back for the same cut for over a year.

I went briefly through the long-haired stage in college, but came back to a well-tapered executive contour when I graduated. Over the years, I’ve had to search hard to find barbers that live up to the standards my father set for me. Today, when I describe to barbers the haircut I want, they realize I’m different and ask how I know so much. I like to tell them about the special barber who taught me and remind them that not all boys regret the short haircut chosen by dad.

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