The longest relationship I’ve had since moving to Indianapolis is with my barber. It was love at first sight. I was on campus heading to class when I saw two guys handing out flyers. I usually ignore flyer jockeys but I was new in town and figured there might be some worthwhile information. I was right. Turns out the guys were barbers who had just opened up a shop not too far from campus. I was ecstatic. I’ve moved around a lot and have discovered finding a good barber is a difficult task. I can’t just go to Great Clips and ask for a fade. I get strange looks.
I kept the flyer and about a week later headed to the address on the paper. It was a couple miles down the road in a part of town known as Haughville. Being new to the area, I wasn’t aware of Haughville’s reputation. Apparently it’s a good place to get shot. I arrive at the shop and tell the barber what I want: a simple bald fade. The barber’s name is Lazzy, which I assume is short for Lazarus or a nickname because he enjoys listening to lazy jazz. Lazzy is in his late 30’s, early 40’s. He has a salt and pepper afro and what I refer to as free spirited teeth: they sort go in whatever direction they want. Lazzy proceeds to give me one the best haircuts ever. I wish I could explain what constitutes the perfect fade but I can’t. It’s sort of like that old Potter Stewart quote about pornography: “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.”
Getting my haircut at Lazzy’s shop was never an issue when I was in school. I lived within walking distance for a while. After about a year, I moved to the suburbs which made things difficult but not impossible. I just had to make sure I left home early enough to squeeze in a trim before class. After I graduated, going to Lazzy’s shop became a chore. It was about a 30 mile drive from home to his shop. It seemed silly to drive 30 minutes for a 15 minute haircut but I did it anyway.
About a year ago I decided that it might be time to look for a new barber. Not because I was unhappy, but because gas was getting expensive and I was trying to shorten all my commutes. Unfortunately, I didn’t know where to turn. I didn’t like the idea of walking into a random barbershop, but I didn’t have a lot of chocolate friends to steer me in another direction. I wound upon going to a shop near my house on the advice of a friend of a friend. Big mistake.
I get to the shop, wait my turn and eventually receive what can be best described as a prison haircut. It was rough, painful, and resulted in uncomfortable bumps around the base of my head.
Another friend told me about a nice barbershop in a part of town known as Carmel. I was skeptical. Carmel is one of those nice parts of town where anyone driving a car more than five years old gets pulled over for looking suspicious. Generally speaking, quality haircuts don’t come from those kinds of areas.
I decide to go there anyway. It was a few days before Christmas and I needed a haircut ASAP. I go in and this place is like nothing I’ve ever seen. The barbershop had a receptionist who accepted credit card payments. They served beer while you wait. Typically, when I go to a barbershop I need to carry exact change and watch The Maury Povich Show while I wait. I sit in the chair and wait for the next available barber. A woman named Carrie informs me she has an opening. She’s nice enough but I know I’m in trouble when she asks me what blade setting my usual barber uses. She didn’t give me a bad haircut, but it wasn’t what I wanted.
I decide I did’t want to approach strike three and so I went back to Lazzy. Lazzy moved to a new location on the west side of town. Not a bad part, but not a great part either. He is in a shop with four other guys and a woman. They all seem like decent of enough people. I decide that the haircut is worth the drive. Besides, gas is getting cheaper.
Then one day a few months back I notice something strange. As I am getting a haircut, one of the other barbers says he is going out for lunch. I can’t help but notice he’s packing heat. I think to myself: “Why is he carrying a gun to lunch? Is he hunting his lunch? He must have not seen the Taco Bell across the street.” I figure it’s none of my business and pretend I don’t see anything.
Fast forward to earlier this week. I am sitting in Lazzy’s chair getting my usual fade when I notice the barber on my right finishing up with his customer. This barber, is wearing a white tee that is a little too small. As he holds his clippers up, his shirt rises above his belly button. Being the observant chap I am, I notice this guy is carrying a gun. Again, I am confused. I understand this isn’t the greatest neighborhood, but why on earth does one need to carry a gun while cutting hair?
Now I find myself in a jam. I have had the same barber for six years, with a few minor affairs on the side. I don’t want to leave, but at the same time I feel like I should move on. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer to not get my hair cut in a place where the barber’s feel the need to carry a gun. I pretty sure that doesn’t happen at Super Cuts. Decisions, decisions….