Your Grrrs: Jan.18, 2007

Here are some of your responses to Mike's last column.

Carla writes: Just loved your article on barbershops. My husband and son go to a neighborhood shop. You are 100 percent correct. Conversation covers every topic in the world, and opinions are ventured on every topic in the world. When my husband's National Guard Unit was activated after 9/11, my son was 9 years old. I became mom and dad during the year he was gone. This included trips for haircuts. The barber took it upon himself to tell my son that he was the man of the house while his dad was away, and told him of his responsibilities which included behaving himself, giving his mom "no trouble or cause for worry, and taking care of his mom." He then gave my son his phone number and told him he was available for advice anytime! My son took it very seriously, and did become the man of the house that year. Thanks Mike, as always.

Tim writes: I’ve enjoyed your articles and especially this one. I am not that old but I still remember the days my dad took me to get the summer buzz cuts and regular haircuts during the school year. And yes that was when parents still made you get a haircut. I like you prefer the old-fashioned barbershop. There is definitely nostalgia about going in and waiting, talking to the barber and GETTING a shave around the neck and ears; something unheard of in today’s chop shop salons. At least when you go to a barber, you know you are going to get the same guy cutting your hair who knows exactly how you like your haircut right down to the depth of the comb or guard on the clippers. Sadly though, the barbershop is a dying Americana icon. Maybe this is something I can do in retirement or sooner. I’ll let you know when I open a shop. The first haircut will be on me.

Zachry D. writes: Absolutely brilliant, of all the Grrrs I have read this one is a work of art. Not only a piece I can truly relate too, but one written as a tribute rather than the usual rant. Bravo.

Jeremy H. writes: Mike, you are too right. There are many parents (not all, but a lot) who choose not to discipline their children. At one Parent/Teacher Conference, I have had a parent tell me, "I can't do that! They'll hate me!" Wake up ... you are a parent of a teen. If they don't hate you some of the time, you aren't doing your job!

Students need discipline. They need boundaries. Students need to know that some things are not OK. That talking back to the teacher will get you in trouble at school AND at home. That drinking when underage isn't OK, even if you are Miss Teen USA. In ages gone by, the worst words a child could hear were, "I'm disappointed in your behavior" from someone who truly meant it. I wish that more parents would wake up and stop being their children's friend. They need a parent, be one.

Dave B. writes: Good article, no great article. I encountered my first real barber shop upon beginning my freshmen year at North Georgia College (the military school of GA). The place was, and still is called Woody's despite the fact that Woody is long gone. Located in an old strip right on the square, everything about the place is old including the barbers. Walk in, smell the familiar smells, hear the floorboards creak and then the friendly hello. Ahh, no place could be finer. A man's place. If you ever find yourself in Georgia, it is worth the drive to Dahlonega for quick haircut. I think the charge is $8, but I have never been able to only pay that amount. No the place is just too damn good to only leave $8. Hell I may just have to take the hour drive up there this weekend...

Jake M. writes: Great column, Mike. Where do I start? I too love the simple practicality of the barbershop -- and to tell you the truth, I usually get a better cut than at the salons without the hassle of making an appointment. I even like the assortment of "old school" aftershave lotions my barber uses. You wrote a column a couple of years ago about how you simplified your life post-9/11 by using barbers and ditching a lot of hair and face products. That was one of my favorite columns and this was a nice follow-up. And you are right; too few people discipline their children anywhere, let alone in public. If I scold my kids in public people look at me like I am some sort of evil monster.

Dave "C" writes: Mike, you are correct, sir! Growing up in Podunk, Wash., I remember Rosie the barber, who buzzed carrier landing tops for 50 cents! She was firm, stern and taught me and my two brothers a thing or two about manners during our 10 minutes in the chair! It was all about discipline! I'm now over 50 and while I would never consider a crew cut, and at the risk of never being able to get in the place again, the guys at Times Square Barbershop on 46th Street in Manhattan are hard-working and do a great "regular" (and make sure you say that word) haircut for $12 and I've been going there for years! They don't give lifelong advice, but they are courteous, grateful for the business and give you a decent haircut without all that salon fuss! I've never been disappointed. This is a shameless endorsement! I used to go to a fancy midtown salon, but the stylist offended a member of my family who has 30+ years in the styling biz by quizzing "Who cut this last? I cannot work with this!" I left five years ago and have never been back. When you need a haircut, you need a haircut ... not criticism of the previous cutter! Fix it and shut the heck up! Price with tip: $35! For that I don't need to pay for the commentary.

Bryan D. writes: I really loved your piece about the barbershop insight. You bring a point that the barbershop doesn't need a pager, cell phone, BlackBerry or even a computer. I think this is why haircuts at barbershops are so cheap, because the barber doesn't need to pay for or rely on the technology, only for the tools of the trade. In fact, the barber I go to only accepts cash or check, no credit/debit cards. No cash register either. So at least I know this barber will not come up with "Sorry I can't help you -- our computers are down."

Bill G. writes: Just wanted to say thank you for writing your Grrr columns on I read them all. Thanks for being one of the only voices of common sense and reason on the Web. I imagine you probably get a lot of hate mail from the ultra-PC types, but please, for all of us "average Joes," please keep it up.

Laura C. writes: I really enjoyed reading that today. I am a single mom and use our local barbershop for three boys. Before Thanksgiving my eldest son’s teacher called to inform me that he was lethargic during class, not paying attention and refusing to say the pledge (due to him not traveling the world). My son and I had a discussion that night about the difference between "agreeing" with something and still showing "respect."

That night my son learned his fate was to lose everything in his room. He lost his wardrobe minus three pairs of khakis and three button down shirts. He also lost the right to wear his hair long.

The next morning we went down to our barber. A little hole in the wall place, there were several older gentlemen in there. At first the consensus was that we shouldn’t shave my son’s hair because it looked nice.

I then informed all the men about my son’s belief that he shouldn’t respect our country and flag by saying the pledge in school. There was a wait so I left him there to run errands and told the barber and men that my son’s haircut was in their hands.

Needless to say, when I returned he was ready for boot camp. Later that night my son gave me a hug and while crying told me thanks for showing him another way to look at things. After six weeks of "mom boot camp," all of his teachers have reported that his attitude has changed for the better and he is showing more respect. God bless the small barbershop and what can be accomplished in there.

T. writes: Sitting here reading your column let me know further that I am not the only one who thinks about the way things used to be. You know when parents used to have the control? When you were teaching your children, neighbors' kids too, friends kids etc. the rights and the wrongs of society and general life without worrying about if you were going to have to bite your tongue for "keeping it real." I do miss those days.

Seems to me today’s parents have forgotten what it was like to have strong guidance and to pass that along to the younger generations.

The bigger question is, how do we give the control back to parents who have intentionally put their foot in their mouths by placing so much emphasis on "giving the children what they didn’t have"? Should we as "OLDSCHOOLERS" continue to look away or perhaps shake our heads and raise an eyebrow at the MTV generation giving false praise to corrupt "Idols"?

Dan C. writes: One Grrr for the local barbershop. Men's barbershops typically serve customers on a walk-in basis; salons make appointments. That's because a good barber can do around four men's cuts an hour -- I've observed women's haircuts take between 45 and 60 minutes. I hate it when a woman goes to a barber shop, I'll wait for three guys to get their hair cut, I know I'll have my turn in less than an hour, but put a woman in the queue and the wait goes way up. I know there's no legal way a barbershop can refuse to cut women's hair, so can the ladies just do us a favor and stick to the salons?

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