Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Today's fortune: March 23, 2011

Use your abilities at this time to stay focused on your goal. You will succeed.

Nothing like spending a day thinking about your abilities - or your lack thereof - to make you good and depressed.

While pondering this fortune, I realized I don't have many abilities. I can write a little. I cook a mean hamburger. I'm becoming a fairly proficient widget-maker.

And sadly, that's about it.

I don't play a musical instrument. I can't skin a deer or gut a fish, or even catch a fish. I'm unable fix or maintain cars. I'm not very good at fixing stuff around the house, although I give it the ol' college try, and beyond plunging a toilet or changing a light bulb, I stay away from plumbing and electricity.

But you know what? I'm a learned, 21st-Century man, and I'm comfortable with the fact that I can't do those things. Even though I can't do those traditional manly things, I think there's something manly in the ability to make money in this world using the few finely-honed talents I have. And with that money I can pay people to do the other things I'm not so good at.

I left work early today to do just that. I was badly in need of a service I can't perform for myself.

I needed a haircut.

For a short while, during a stretch of unemployment, I suckered Jamie into cutting my hair. We even purchased an electric clipper. I was trying to be frugal, but what I didn't count on was that Jamie would become easily frustrated with me during these haircuts, and then I'd have an angry woman with a pair of scissors inches from my throat. Eventually, Jamie made it clear she would never ever ever ever ever ever cut my hair again, and that was that. The clippers have found a new use, though: we use them to cut the dingleberries off the cats.

Now, I get my hair cut by a barber. Not a hairdresser or a stylist: a barber. I don't go to a place where they look me up in a computer system to see if I've been there before and I pick my haircut out of a slick magazine. I don't go to a place where I pay seven dollars and a twentysomething girl named Christy makes my head look like a raw potato. I did that once, and all those things really happened.

I go to a place where they remember my name when I walk through the door. A place where the prices are written on a flimsy piece of cardboard taped to the wall. A place where they don't ask you what kind of haircut you want, they just start cutting, and it always looks right afterward. A place where I get my hair cut by a man older than my father, and if I asked him, he'd give me a shave, too. I go to a barber shop.

The shop I frequent is a three-chair place. I waited patiently for my turn. I've had my hair cut by all three of the barbers there, and I like all three, but one in particular is my favorite. He's the one I got today.

The old gentleman is my favorite because when he's done with the haircut, he trims my neck hairs and sideburns with a straight razor.

And every time I feel that warm lather being applied to my neck and I hear the scraping of the iron blade against my skin, I'm taken back to my parents' living room, where up on the wall there's a display case filled with straight razors, a strop and other barber paraphernalia, passed down from my grandfather on my mother's side.

Grandpa Henry, whom I never knew, was a turkey farmer and also a barber. He ran a little shop in the tiny town of Loose Creek, Missouri. The shop is still there, and it's smaller than the shed in my backyard where I keep my lawn mower.

Mom tells great stories about Grandpa Henry. He was enlisted to the Army during World War II, and he served in Europe as an Army barber. Everyone in the town of Loose Creek and the surrounding area called him, simply, "Barber." And my mom grew up being called "Barber's Daughter."

With a straight razor and a pair of shears, this man was able to support a family.

Talk about "ability."

It's good to know barber shops are still around. They're a link to the past, and a link to my own personal history. For thirteen bucks plus a two-dollar tip, I can experience first-hand an artist at work.


  1. okay, maybe you can't gut a deer or clean a fish, but you can make macaroni and cheese out of a box. Again, you made me cry with your article about the barber shop. It brought back so many memories. Thank you so much for a little trip down memory lane.

  2. I think you are looking to much at what you can't do and not at what your can do. This blog is awesome and you write so well. That is a real skill that is not to be ignored!!