A memory of a barber

Perhaps it is my age, and it is arguable that I am being nostalgic, but indulge me for a moment, if you please. Growing up, I remember my first trips to a barber; a small little shop filled with the smell of apple flavored tobacco’s and Birchwood soaps. The chairs were fine carved oak and decked out in worn red leather.  You could see about a hundred pictures on the wall, of old cars, and men in chairs getting a fresh lathered shave. These were masculine moments, where being a man was not only accepted but expected. Men came into this place and I would hear them mutter about the local ball club favorite, or brashly curse about something that was irritating them. These were the moments as I sat in the chair quietly, that brought a smile and a slight scolding while Vern, my barber, was trimming down my sideburns.

Today, finding a man’s barber is like finding a gold vein in a long abandoned mine, but you can find hair cutting Crapdonald’s just about on every street corner. Perhaps even worse, there is a beauty spa named “Utopia” or some such fucking place that bleeds those poor male slaves of half the paycheck they handed over to their feminist masters. It begs the question of what one of the most important things has been taken from men today. Perhaps we could sum it up in one phrase, the pride of being a man.

Because in the end, when you walk out of there, you will remember what it was like to feel good being a man.
Men have been told they are manipulative and selfish, that they are, in essence, raping, lying, cheating bastards, incapable of any compassion without a woman’s guidance. Alright, so maybe we bought into the lie, but more likely it was beaten into us by our master to which we foolishly said “I do.”  Hindsight being 20/20, you should have gotten into that sports car your buddy had waiting on you, when he hoped you would change your mind.  Because you never really thought about what would happen to you in ten years, when she “rediscovered” herself.

When dealing with the courts, the part time fatherhood, struggling to pay child support while slumping into depression over not seeing your children, it’s a miracle more men have not ended their lives over the trials this corrupt system has forced them to endure.

Yet men endure it, they take it, like they have hundreds of times over in man’s history.  Maybe it is because at the end of their enslavement, they find their balls again. Maybe they remember what it was like to stand on their own through the hard times, and find out that being who they are is good and decent and is worth being. Maybe they take a look around and found an old buddy who went through their experience too, and they realize the injustices being perpetrated on them by a misandric society.  Then they take a bigger look around, to shows of men being portrayed as idiots and buffoons on television, to being inundated with pink ribbons, while their father dies of prostate cancer – with no marches for their struggle. With that much misandry, and that much money backing it, how much more can a man do to fight that? He cannot even get a decent shave anymore.

Hey, I understand, it was easy to go spend a few bucks on a disposable razor, and a few more on some white shit in a can. “Real” men do not go for shaves when their masters need their nails done and we do not want to short the grocery bill. Real men do not object when those same masters tell them, barber shops are only for men, and therefore, sexist. You chauvinistic bastard, what were you thinking when you wanted your beard trimmed? I know, it was all about being the superior over women and keeping them down. That was what you thought. Something along those lines. Ya. Sure.

Alright, so maybe we bought into the lie, but more likely it was beaten into us by our master to which we foolishly said “I do.” 
 Or maybe, you just want to find a place where a man could be a man again. A place where it was alright to curse about your favorite ball club playing like hell. A place where you could walk in looking like hell and smell like a man when you walked out. Perhaps it was a camaraderie, or maybe it was the old pictures, hell, maybe it was the fact that you did not have to worry about a judge taking away 75 percent of your check, or how you were going to get that toy for the holidays for your child.  It was a place where you had to trust another man who was holding a razor to your neck. The good part about that, was that you could trust him. He had your back, because you were on the same side. You were both men.  We have to remember that when we look around, at other men, and watch them get dragged through hell. We have to remember our camaraderie in this fight against misandry.

So maybe it’s time to look up an old barber, and throw the fucking Gillette five razor disposable out the damned window. You do know that five razors is not good for your face when just one good sharp one will do, right? I guess that is my point. So much of man’s pride has been stripped from him because he was just a man, that we do not even remember how to shave properly anymore. So when your buddy just lost half his paycheck to child support over false domestic violence accusations, and cannot make the rent because the other half of his check is still going to the mortgage for the house he cannot live in? Call him up, and take him to a barber shop and get him a good shave and haircut. While you’re at it, get one for yourself, and ask the man shaving you for good tips on shaving for men.

Because in the end, when you walk out of there, you will remember what it was like to feel good being a man. Then maybe you will feel strong enough to begin to help your brothers fight back against what made them feel badly in the first place. Because in the long haul we are going to need every good man we can get. The way I see it, might as well look sharp getting there.

About Matthew Steele

Matthew Steele is a software engineer in the mountains of Colorado. He is a writer and a poet that enjoys martial arts with his child and playing old guitars.

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  • Paul Elam

    Another new VOICE at A Voice for Men. And what a voice it is. Welcome, Matthew and thank you for this poignant account of our lives.

  • Hayden Hanna

    I really enjoyed this piece. It is, like you say, a rare find to locate a place that is truly a men’s place. Women seem obsessed with never allowing men to gather and have something that is just for them. We can’t have places, schools, or rites of passage that are for men only. However, women can have everything for women only, and men rarely object. Hell, the gym I am joining has half the gym walled off behind a women-only sign. I see men here in the south running for hunting and fishing camps with smiles on there faces because those are the only places left that are just men enjoying each other’s company. Anyway, you have written a fine article, and I thank you for it.

    • Mr. J

      Just a thought on that………Aren’t there a lot of women/girls in favor of single-gender schools?
      Isn’t it just politicians and crooks at the top opposed to it?

  • Atlas Reloaded

    Amazing Matthew. And yeah welcome. You got me thinking about a man I often end up thinking (and talking) about on this site: Yep, my Granddad. My Grandad went to a barber all the time. He only had a tuft of hair on the back of his head when I knew him. But that is where he got it trimmed, and that is where he got the shave he didn’t feel like doing himself.

    And a bunch of the other guys who frquented the place were WWII vets and former Marines like himself. The barber himself was an old sailor. Shop full of ol’ slaty dogs. Like that scene out of Gran Torrino.And hell yeah, there was cussin left and right! I got my haircut there a few times. But my Grandad would cut it himself for me too.

    After reading this I am not joking, I am going to search for a good, real and bona fide barber shop somewhere here in West L.A.

  • Sean in the 313

    Some of my favorite memories consist of me and my grandfather fishing or watching older television programs (he loves “All In The Family” and he has forgotten more about fishing than I currently know). I grew up in a single-mother household, so I spent most of my childhood raising myself on garbage television and TV dinners. I feel fortunate to have had a strong male role model whom I could spend time with, even if it was not very often. Those were great times, me and my grandfather on the lake and in his living room listening to him tell stories during the commercial breaks of older shows.

    There are a lot of men who don’t get any time to just be themselves. There is this notion in our culture that states men should never be allowed to enjoy their masculinity or that men in groups is a bad thing. This notion is beaten into the heads of men of all ages, but I see it put into practice in a more prevalent manner with married men and their wives. I will never get married because there are too many women who will not let their men have “man time.” In these marriages, the wives must have attention focused on them 100% of the time. I have no interest in being a beaten dog who became emasculated upon saying “I do.”

    I enjoy my freedom and peace and quiet too much to push all my chips into the center of the table and take a gamble on whether or not my wife will become abusive or a drain after the wedding ring is put on her finger.

  • Paragon of Animals

    About two or three years ago I saw a Supercunts commercial that had a female receptionist calling up male customers to the next available haircutter. She would describe the men by some type of Freudian psycho-babble in particular feminist fashion,”Committment-phobic with mother issues.”

    Since then I had stopped going to Supercunts and have been going to a good ol’ barbershop.

    It seems I was a boycotting MRA even before I knew there was a men’s rights movement.

  • Kimski

    You wouldn’t believe how happy and content a couple of guys can be, when they get set ashore after some of the fishingtrips I set up quite often. Or the worried look on their faces, when they realize that they have to ask their Masters permission, and might risk missing out, when I start talking about taking another one.

    Sometimes the amount of hoops they have to jump to get that permission is staggering, and mostly totally without reason or rhyme. It seems like it’s more just a way of making them remember their place, than anything else.

    Or the transformation appearing in front of your eyes, when a perfectly normal guy get that feared phonecall from home, demanding whatever. That is one of the rare occasions where I never get asked, why I’m not married. Should a newbie ask, I usually reply with the words of Zed:-You might believe you’re equal, but if she wants you out,-you’re gone. If she doesn’t want you to see your kids,-you won’t. You better take that call and do your thing.

    Very well written, Matthew. I have never actually been in a barbershop like the one you describe, but I swear I could almost smell the place and hear the cussin.

  • MSFM

    Amen brother!
    Thank you for writing this.

    A buddy and I were talking last night about how great it is to be single and free.
    Neither of us have been married. We both live alone and make no apologies.


    Saturday morning fixed bacon and eggs with a pot of black coffee.
    Talked to buddy on the phone, worked out, wrenched on the car.

    Sunday; got up around 9:30, enjoyed watching the birds outside the kitchen window.
    Worked in the yard, took the car for a drive, relaxed.

    My house, my rules.
    The entire place is “man space”
    Seat stays up


    “Honey do” list
    Trip to the shopping mall
    Petty arguments
    Rolled eyes
    Shaming language

    Works for me. 😉

    I know a guy who told me a friend of his installed a urinal in his home after the divorce.
    Right next to the new pool table.
    Gotta love that.

    • Kimski

      I have only one houserule, and it only applies to women:
      ‘When you’re done, leave the seat up, or don’t expect the same courtesy from me.” 😀

  • BeijaFlor

    I’ve been going to the Hair Cuntery around the corner, for the past twenty years, just because it’s two hundred yards from my front door.

    There’s a self-proclaimed Barber Shop that’s opened up about a block past it, in another strip-mall. I’m going there tomorrow. I’m worth it.

    And I’m printing out this article for their wall.

  • Matthew Steele

    Gentlemen,Thank you for the warm welcome and may I say its a positive thing to be able to contribute, and it brings a smile to my face. If I can bring one man back to that space, then I have done my job, and that makes the work worth it. My thanks again, and hopefully, this will be the first of many.

    • Fidelbogen

      “The way I see it, might as well look sharp getting there.”

      That is sharp. It made me smile.

      I keep myself generously whiskered around the chin and moustache — not the fashionable, barely-etched lines of hair you see on a lot of guys nowadays, but a good burly crop that will double as a soup strainer. Cheeks and sideburns I keep baby-smooth.

      Well, I gotta run along now and have me a self-administered shave! 😉

  • Roland3337

    I think its time to stop getting my hair cut at Walmart, and find a real barber shop.

    Never knew what I’d missed out on until I read this. The last time for me was probably when I was 9 years old.

    Prior to that, I think my Dad did it in the bathroom with an electric clipper.

  • Hayden Hanna

    All the comments posted here are making me nostalgic for a time when I was not bald so that I would have a reason to search out an old shop.

  • operationoptout

    Way to go!!! Man I loved those visits to the barber shop. Real men who had an old shotguns on the wall. Not that anyone would dare loot the place anyway, everyone knew Rick. He was also the town vet, LOL. I remember my first visit. I asked granddad what it was like to be bald. Instead he decided to let Rick show me. Mom was pissed but I have kept my hair that way every since. It’s funny how much of an impact “real men” can have on a young mans life. Every young man deserves to have that experience. Thank you Mr. Steele, love the memories.

  • Stu

    The last time I was in a barber shop was about 5 years ago. I came across it and thought, you don’t see many of them around anymore. I needed cut, so I went in for a haircut.

    I’m going to try and never go to a hairdresser again. Support your local barber, and if you don’t have a local barber, support one that is far away.

    Funny you should mention this, because I was thinking about it the other day, and I decided I wanted to get a cut throat razor and strap and learn to shave properly……like my grandfather.

  • orry

    Welcome Matthew,

    Thank you, thank you, and, might I say again, thank you for this article.

    You took me back to one of a handful of early, good memories for me. I was fortunate enough to accompany my grandfather to a barbershop when I was a wee lad of 4 or 5 years old (1975). When grandpa was done, it was my turn and I still remember the “jump board” that the barber had to lay across the seat as I was still too small for the big, red leather, chair. I would stare, not at pictures on the wall, but rather at the dual mirrors(front and back) and trying to count how many different “me’s” there were. (mirrors on the wall in front and behind the chair keep reflecting your image over and over again). I don’t remember how high I counted but it was always fun to wave with 5-10 arms and make funny faces. It was so cool.

    Then afterwards looking forward to that strawberry, cherry, grape or root beer sucker that the barber always handed to me with a smile.

    Fortunately for me I still use a local barber. Yes, I have gotten a shave a few times, although not regularly, and it is a great experience with a skilled barber. That warm shaving cream from the dispenser (modern I know) on your face to expand the facial hair and then it turns cold as ice. Aaaahhhh a good shave on the face and the back of your neck after a haircut. Nothing quite like it.

    Thank you Michael.Thank you.


  • Paul Elam

    Man, almost bummed out here. I spent quite a while going through Google returns for “Barbers” in Houston. Most of them were salons. I even found one that was an actual barber shop, but with all female barbers.


    But in the end it looks like I scored. I am going in for a shave and a haircut on Tuesday. I want to look and feel good for the show. :)

    • scatmaster

      Be careful Paul. When I was in Orlando I went looking for a barber shop online. Thought I had found one. Ya, they had the pole outside, the chair,etc. The “barber” was of middle eastern descent, could barely speak English. No hot towels or salve, Just edge shave gel rubbed onto my face and then he used a Bic disposable razor. WTF.

      • scatmaster

        Not that the ancestry mattered just wasn’t what I remembered in my barber shop growing up.

  • JinnBottle

    Remember when the Barber would finish with that 80 year old guy who hardly had a hair left anyway? He’d always call them “Young man” – “All right, young man…”

    Then, as the next man, some 40 year old in green work trousers, was sitting down, the Barber would shake out his customer-apron, and throw you a wink over his shoulder.

    Try as we might to simulate the Iron Days, ain’t a barber in America left who’s going to risk man-to-boy affinity like *that*! NAMBLA, say the feminists, well, maybe, if you keep it on the QT. But a sign of *social* bonding between men – or *boys*?? Hell no!

    Nevertheless a nice trip down back to the Old Reliable Days. Thank you, Matthew.

  • gwallan

    Ah, Matthew thanks for reminding me that I’m truly a dinosaur.

    Those were the sixties and on. When it came time dad would take my brother and I to the shop in the arcade. We’d take it in turns on the board straddling the arms of the barbers’ chairs(and quietly long for the day when we could sit properly in the seat).

    They sold all the limited range of smokes available in the day, pipes, tobacco and cigars from all sorts of exotic climes. The walls were plastered with sports images and memorabilia several layers deep. If we were careful we might snag a look at some of the Pix or People magazines amongst the stacks of dog-eared readables. For the articles of course. Only ever for the articles.

    From about twenty I went off to prosper elsewhere for a couple of decades. I tried to continue to use barbers. Frankly I don’t want a “hair dresser”. I just want someone to cut my hair so it doesn’t get in the darned way. Unfortunately I’ve been in the big city mostly and sometimes the barber simply wasn’t there. I’ve been to unisex(ughh) salons, a “barbiere” who genuinely was the wanker the title implies, hairdressing schools where the cheap fare equates to the product. Even used my mum’s hairdresser on weekends up home a couple of times. The occasional barber along the way I stuck to like a limpet.

    Today I’m blessed. Moved home about a decade ago and am now a regular at a joint on the same city block as my office. The bloke who cuts my hair today is the grandson/son/nephew of the blokes who cut my hair nearly half a century ago. The premises is different but the sign out the front is the same. There’s no smokes because of health regs and the place is much tidier. The barage of sports stuff has a distinctly motorised feel to it. The same old codgers are still coming and going. Form guides and debates over the weekend’s footy or the current test match are ever present. My dad never skipped a beat. Been to the same place his entire life. We attend independently these days of course but I admit to not looking forward to the day when I have to take my dad to the barber. Importantly the haircut is just as it’s ever been. The experience is different, and the same, all at once.

    Something my long absence taught me is that you can never really go home. I left a town and returned to a city. Virtually all the edifices and institutions of my childhood and youth are gone – all, of course, replaced by “bigger”, “niftier” and “glitzier”. If it wasn’t for family there’d be little to connect me to the place at all. Amongst a chaos of change that barbershop is a tiny sliver of ongoing normality.

  • DarkByke

    Bahahaha, the scene from “Gran Torino” is so fitting with this article! It’s where boys become men.

    There’s an interesting non-profit project in Australia that I heard about on CBC radio called The Men’s Shed or to that effect. It’s essentially a group of men who in their free time teach men the essential skills in life. So this would be for boys that otherwise don’t have the adult rolemodel in their life (no father figure, single mother, etc). This could be anything from fixing bicycles to lawnmowers, installing doors, driving, etc.

    You can bet that the feminists will find a way to infiltrate this as soon as they can! Especially when money becomes involved.

  • UKMan

    Another place to support is your local ‘meat-locker’ gym. No ‘illegal’ anti-women membership rules required; rusty machines, drab walls and too-heavy free weights mean women keep away in droves. Such utilitarian premises are beneath them (because they’re worth it etc.) A blissful sanctuary for men.

    • scatmaster

      You have given me an idea
      Now where to find the perfect building with drab walls, rusty pipes, and nary an exercise ball in sight except a medicine ball.

  • TDOM

    Wow! This is the second post in a row that has reminded me of my father, who was a barber. You’ve described his shop pretty well, though his walls were mostly mirrors, not pictures. There were three chairs. His was the first, his partner’s was the second, and the third belonged to one of a handful of employees they had over the years.

    One of those was a woman named Carol. They hired her because she could cut the longer hairstyles that were popular with the teenagers (like me) at the time. My dad and his partner were much better at cutting flat tops. I laugh at the “hairstylists” today who can’t cut a flat top without using a comb for a guide. My dad could cut a flat top freehand in just a couple of minutes. Hardly anyone ever spent more than 5-6 minutes in his chair unless they also wanted a shave.

    His shop was a great place to go and just hang out. His business was mostly factory workers and no conversation was off limits.

    After getting my driver’s license He got me a job cleaning a barn for an old farmer who had gout and couldn’t walk very well. The deal was that I would clean the barn for free, but I’d get to keep the manure. I’d have to go to his shop after school to get his pickup to haul the manure. I’d take it back to our place where I’d dump it onto a pile of leaves and grass clipping. By springtime it would be compost. We’d put up a sign in my dad’s shop and he’d have the orders for me when I arrived. Those old factory workers all had gardens. Working for free was never so profitable.

    Thanks for jogging my memory.


  • Jade Michael

    This is a great article! Thank you for this Mr. Steele and welcome aboard. You’ve really summed up why, in my post-Gothpunk era (adulthood), I have chosen to shave the hair right off of my head. I always HATED going to a salon where some cackling bimbo danced around my head for 15 minutes and charged me $50 (and still expected a tip). In my twenties I started wrecking my own hair and eventually after shaving it off, I never set foot in a salon ever again.

    But a few years ago when I bought my first house in a rural town outside of Nashville I ended up spending several months doing renovations on it, so vanity wasn’t at the top of my priority list. After a while, hair had sprouted but instead of shaving it off I figured I’d see how long I could stand having it again – so I went to the local barber shop for a ($10, mind you) trim.

    What a delight! I had never experienced anything like it before. I actually kept my hair for a while after, mainly because I enjoyed my trips to the barber. He was in his late 60’s and, to this day, effortlessly creates the same retro atmosphere described in Mr. Steele’s article. I was impressed to see how many young men chose to get their hair cut there as opposed to the unisex dive down the street. He kept cigar and vintage car magazines on the table, only took cash (no debit/credit machine), LET YOU SMOKE if you wanted to and talked to you about anything and everything you don’t talk about anywhere else but there. Very cool.

    I’ve since sold the house and moved back into town but I’m glad that (even though they are few and far between) a place like that still exists. At least until he retires, which according to him was going to be “next year”, for the past 10 years.

  • Ray

    Mr. Steele’s story brought back this childhood memory from the early days of TV, circa early 1950s – a time Mr. Steele eloquently brings to life.

  • giovannidannato

    I spent my entire childhood getting taken to chain chop shops and hair salons. And as a result I perpetually had bad haircuts.
    The employees at these places were women who didn’t have a good understanding of men’s hair. Worse they were just employees with no stake in the shop they were working at and under pressure to crank through customers on a conveyor belt.

    One day, once I’d become an adult, I felt that feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach once I realized a haircut could no longer be avoided.
    Except this time I went to a place with a candy cane pole out in front.
    I ended up getting a clean, no nonsense, sharp-looking men’s cut for the first time in years. And it wasn’t a cut from a random employee. The owner was the barber.

    I only go to real barbershops now.
    Though they’ve dwindled, every town seems to have a few and they always seem to do good business.
    I’d say these places are on the uptrend.

    The male only atmosphere is no small part of the appeal.
    No matter how bad things got in the past, men always had socially sanctioned hangouts in which to take a break from females and enjoy camaraderie.
    The modern culture has tried its best to deprive us of every possible sanctuary.

    Feminists, females in general have always understood that men with support networks and real friends are much harder to dominate and control.
    What is one of the first things brideZilla does once she has hubby in her clutches? She does her best to separate him from his male buddies until all he sees from them is Christmas cards.

    Not much has changed.
    Before prohibition in the states, bars were hangouts for men. Though some men certainly came home drunk or spent more money on drink then they should have, one has to wonder just what the real issue was that caused millions of women to periodically launch temperance movements and eventually push for prohibition…

  • Ray

    Of course, if you’re a real cheapskate and a loner like me, you haven’t had a real haircut from another human in years – – – just a guy, his Flobee, and his vacuum cleaner. …and never had a better, or cheaper, haircut. Six years without paying for a haircut (other than the initial $120.00 investment) must count for something. :-)

  • Rog

    this is so great i have no words for it i was about 14 and went to visit my dad he drove me home from the airport had a cot for me in the spare room for the summer and when i woke up the next morning we went out for coffee with his buddies at the local coffeeshop when we left from there he said he had someone he wanted me to meet…. it was his barber… and i went from a hippy kid to baldy in about 10 minutes i have never gone back and there was no argueing with my dad not even a question i was getting my haircut!

  • keyster

    It seems if you look hard enough there are still private men’s barber shops, off on side streets or ally-ways. I remember exactly what you mean as a kid though; going down with the old man on a Saturday morning to “John the Barber”, talk of sports mostly and sometimes politics. My father had installed the flooring several years before.

    Now I have so few hairs (but still get charged the same as men with flowing manes), so I bought my own Wahl clipper and do it myself, mostly to avoid the hassle of making the trip.

  • Jade Michael

    I’ve only briefly looked over this site but it appears to be another example of where men have moved to “be themselves” – the internet. I suppose an online barber shop makes sense now that there are so few of the real thing.

    May be a good place to enlighten some potential MRAs.