Monday, September 27, 2021


New Deal Man Cave…

March 12, 2009 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.com) I have been going to the same barber for more than 10 years. I followed him from his own humble shop to his chair in an equally humble store front. He is always prepared with interesting conversation, insights and philosophy and most importantly he gives a good cut. I was happy.

In an effort to, in his words, reach for something higher, he recently upgraded into his own shop that is decidedly less humble and, well, less of a barbershop. Instead of the familiar “man cave”, he has opted for a haven of metro-sexuality. He still gives a good cut, but the jury is still out on the new digs.

Gone are the metal folding chairs. Gone is the linoleum tile floor. Gone is the 19 inch color television perched tenuously on top of the soda machine that rarely worked. And gone is the aura of manly camaraderie that was so much a part of my trips to the barbershop.

Instead of the down scale furnishings I have grown to know and love in my more than 40 years of getting my hair cut, this new shop is outfitted with leather seating, polished wood floors, designer lighting fixtures, plasma televisions and pretty young female hostesses that offer clients complimentary champagne. There are also more PYT’s (pretty young things) that wash and condition the clients’ hair prior to the cut and a masseuse parked in a corner to relieve any stress. Don’t get me wrong. I love pretty women as much as the next guy. I love them so much that I married one! And I am struggling to recall if even she – my wife of 15 years and the mother of my children — has ever washed my hair. I have been washing my own hair for more than 40 years. Is all of this really necessary?

I am not the only client in a state of confusion. To a person, all of the men I have seen enter the shop and stand – bewildered, unsure of what to do or who to talk to and of course, finally, wondering how much all of this pretty, young female attention is going to cost.

It is not that we men are in love with hard metal chairs or old linoleum tile. And of course, any real man loves big screen televisions. But that is not why we men go to the barbershop and not why once we have found one we like we will drive for miles rather than go to one much closer.

The barbershop has traditionally been the black man’s “man cave” — a place that black men regardless of economic status congregated. Professors mingle with postmen, doctors converse with factory workers and city planners back slap with the unemployed. It is a place of unabashed manhood – that is to say the part of manhood that is brazen, filled with boisterous laughter and a surety of opinion on everything regardless of the facts. It is the place where all men are scholars and philosophers — experts on everything from sports to women. We go to the barbershop to share in a ritual of male bonding. It is not the décor but the camaraderie that brings us back week after week. We go to hear our barber greet us with a hearty, “hey man, what’s happening!” We go to laugh at the lies, to argue sports and to catch up with gossip. And if that atmosphere is enjoyable enough (and the cut is good), we will sit on metal chairs, watch black and white television and of course, wash our own hair.

Of course I wish my barber all the luck in the world in this endeavor. All of us should reach higher. However, for all its prettiness, this new shop seems to inhibit rather than encourage that boisterousness and conversation. One reason is that the new décor attracts too many women. In addition to the masseuse, the hostess and the woman that washes the hair, there are now wives and mothers lounging around sipping free champagne and watching television. As much as men love women, their presence in a barbershop turns the shop into a salon. And the problem with salons is that while they are comfortable, there is not a Jet magazine Beauty of the Week in sight.

Written By Joseph C. Phillips


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