Toronto – I was in desperate need of a haircut. I grabbed my associate, "Quick, take me to that barber shop we saw down on Dundas, the one that serves drinks; we can get cleaned up and messed up at the same time." While she parked the car I went in to see about an appointment. "I'm in dire need of a haircut," I told the man at the counter, "can you help?" He looked at the calendar on his computer and then at the people in the store. "Jack will be able to help you in about 20 minutes," he said.
"Sounds good, can we get a drink?" I said, setting down at the bar. I looked over at my Jack, he was nervously circling what appeared to be Cousin Itt. I could see my associate was uneasy, the place looked like the Addams Family home: animal heads mounted on the wall, barbers dressed like Gomez, crossbows, guns, fishing rods, and certainly a hand scuttling around on the floor somewhere .
I tried to reassure her, explaining these are trained professionals. People that know the importance of the enduring traditions that compliment a gentleman's nature–a wet shave, a bourbon, a Cuban cigar.
Seemingly convinced she looked at her phone, "I'll find you a good hairstyle." Moments later she showed me a picture of some ridiculous hipster. "I have no intention of looking like one of those crazed hipsters!" I told her. She put down her phone and began to flip through a Playboy from the 80s. No good could come of this, there was more bush than brain in those magazines. "Stop drinking and go home to your family you deranged woman." I said, pulling her from the chair and pushing her toward the door.
On the way out she flashed her phone at Jack, who, now knee deep in hair, was finishing up with the Itt man. I had come to the right place; if Jack could find a human under all that hair, he could help me.
"Give me 30 seconds," he said, disappearing into some back room. I assumed to clean the Itt's hair from his eyes and sharpen his tools. Five minutes later he emerged, and beckoned me over to his chair.
"The lady showed me what you want," he said.
"Forget that deranged Asian woman, she's been drinking. Make me look like Daniel Craig from head to toe, " I told him.
"Sorry man, I only work from the shoulders up," he replied.
"What are you waiting for then. Make me look like Daniel Craig from the shoulders up."
Jack went to work."Where you from?" he asked. "London, England." I replied.
"Really?" he replied, "I'll be visiting there soon. My wife is pregnant and craving buttermilk."
"What? Can't you find buttermilk here?" I replied.
"She's Polish," he replied, as if craving buttermilk were a typically Polish thing. "When the baby comes we need to visit Poland to show the family."
I warned him to be careful with the child. I had experience with East Europeans, they have an affinity for pickling things. He should keep the child nearby, at all costs.
"How does London fit in then?" I asked.
"My family is from Belfast, a godforsaken place. There is no way I can take a child there, instead we all agreed to meet in London." I could see the sense in this arrangement, after all, Belfast is well know for it's child eating Leprechauns.
"Besides," he continued, "I've always wanted to visit Mr. Ducktail."
"What? London's self-proclaimed 'rock 'n' roll motherkutter? The barber of Carnaby Street? I've heard that man cuts hair with a switchblade. You'd do good to stay away."
"I know, I want him to cut my hair," he said, a twisted look in his eye. He squirted some hot foam into the palm of his hand, rubbed it on my neck, and reached for his own switchblade. I watched nervously as he shaved the back of my neck and finished off by rubbing on some aftershave–that distinctive Pinaud-Clubman stuff. You’d think smelling like rubbing alcohol would be a bad thing, but somehow it makes the perfect, manly end, to the whole barber experience.