I finally found my ‘hair home’
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.