I fi­nally found my ‘hair home’

The Citizen (KZN) - - Letters - Cliff Buch­ler

Real bar­bers are a threat­ened species. The gen­der thing is eat­ing away at men’s places of refuge, away from hor­ri­ble re­al­i­ties. There to re­lax, some­times even nod off with the snip-snip of the scis­sors, buzz of the trim­mer and whine of the bar­ber’s beef or dated joke in your ear.

Then wily hair­dressers open so-called uni­sex sa­lons where men, women and oth­ers are obliged to tol­er­ate each other’s unique idio­syn­cra­sies.

Now wash basins and hand show­ers in­stead of squirt­ing wa­ter bot­tles. Men’s small talk drowned out by a cease­less flow of words emerg­ing from un­der en­closed hair dry­ers.

And acrid smells un­known to men leak­ing from dyed hair. And women in turn hav­ing to breathe in singed hair (to stunt men’s hair growth).

Wilier hair­dressers have the cheek to call their sa­lons “bar­ber shops”. What sac­ri­lege.

The bar­ber shop is de­fined as a place where men’s and boys’ hair is cut, dressed, groomed, styled and shaved. By all means cater for all sorts, but don’t bas­tardise the word. It’s male in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty.

But, my luck is chang­ing. I’m told of a pukka bar­ber shop with bar­ber’s pole fronting the shop. And owned by Koos. Sounds good.

(The his­tory of the pole is in­trigu­ing. The colours red, white and blue are a legacy of a long­gone era when men went to bar­bers not just for hair­cuts or shaves, but also for blood­let­ting and other med­i­cal pro­ce­dures, like for boils and piles).

Any­way, I pitch up. The in­te­rior looks like ye olde bar­ber shop with typ­i­cal bar­bers’ chairs. I im­me­di­ately feel at home. But two lady hair­dressers greet me.

The one’s busy with a lady, the other with a man. One man is seated, ev­i­dently next in line. I look around for Koos. The seated man quips, “Look­ing for some­one?” Yes, I al­most shout, I’m look­ing for Koos. “Well, I’m Koos”.

Dur­ing the seven min­utes in the chair, Koos fires the gov­ern­ment, re­places taxis with buses, an­ni­hi­lates re­li­gious fa­nat­ics and tells three Van der Merwe jokes.

Although Koos caters for men, women and de­riv­a­tives, he has clev­erly re­tained the bar­ber look and feel. And the squirt wa­ter bot­tle. And cut-throat ra­zor. “No, I don’t do piles,” he chuck­les.

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