Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Field Trip; "Gabriel's Touch Barbershop"
We've discussed how neurotic I am, so anything I say now will just reiterate that point. Prepare yourself.
I don't like being touched.
I know it can seem kind of weird too, particularly in the fashion industry where the majority of services being offered require some type of physical contact; fittings, manicures,... makeup. Weird, I know. Plus there's all the hugging and air-smooches that go along with introductions to other fashion professionals. Particularly with all the French clients. I understand they even have a kiss named after them!
But, when I was contemplating changing my beard I also started feeling like it was time to change the hair on my head as well. Usually, I cut it myself and do a pretty decent job. But there really is nothing like having a professional take care of a job that requires a certain kind of perspective. After all, that's why I even have a job in the first place.
My brother is a barber. Really good one, too. As a matter of fact, in the odd times that I did have my hair cut by someone else, he'd be my guy. But since he lives on the other side of the country, this means that that was usually only when I made it back home. Once or twice a year. Sometimes not even that frequent.
Seeing as how a trip to California wouldn't get me back in time for Fashion Week, I opted to head over to Gabriel's Touch Barbershop as per the recommendation of multiple friends of mine. With first-hand experience of my "no-touch" policy, I had the utmost trust of their recommendation.
The shop was clean and unobtrusive. There were no excessive declarations of opulence or even a fancy reception area. It was a medium size room with multiple barber chairs and a flat screen tv set to the Discovery Channel. A stout Russian man greeted me at the door and shouted down to another who motioned me to have a seat in his chair and asked me what I wanted to have done. I told him;
"Really short on the sides and back, faded up with the top pretty much untouched. Something easily combed over to the side."
He started in by shaving the sides of my head with a clipper and asked me if that was short enough. I told him "shorter". He changed attachments and asked again. I responded, "shorter. Almost bald. Like my chin (stubble)" Once we decided on the length, he began to shape my head with careful precision. Very careful...
For someone to be handling any part of me, I have to prepare myself. Just ask my dentist. I want to be sure of what we're going to be doing and just how long it's going to take so I don't start becoming too uncomfortable during the process. I know, weird. I came in thinking it would be like when my brother hooks me up and take about 20-30 minutes at the most.
20-30 minutes later and this barber was barely starting to clipper the back of my head. Meanwhile, customers were flying in and out of the other barber's chairs. Some coming in with heads of hair fuller than my own and leaving with clean, precise cuts mine still didn't come close to resembling.
After another 15 minutes, he began working on the sides, tapering with a comb and scissors. Another 15 minutes later, he began cleaning up the sides with a clipper and comb. Another 15 minutes later, he went back to using the scissors.
Finally, an hour and a half since I came into the joint, he sprayed a cloth with a solution of water and rubbing alchohol and began wiping down my head including behind my ears and along where my sideburns used to be. Then a dusting with a bit of baby powder to pick up any stray hairs that had fallen down my neck.
Although an arduous process, I suspect that the barber I had was probably new and a little inexperienced. Especially considering there were times when other barbers would come over to give their advice on the direction the cut was going. But, as I look over my cut from every angle in the bathroom mirror, he did do a pretty good job. My lines are all diffused, the tapering along the sides is inperceptible and there are no nics or stray hairs along the hairline. Even when examined with the aide of a hand-held mirror, the view from the back shows no signs of inconsistencies.
I'm a little surprised I managed to extend my comfort level to accomodate an over 90 minute haircut. Maybe I will head back to Gabriel's Touch Barbershop the next time I need a cut. I may even be willing to use the same barber. I'll just make sure I don't have any place important I have to be afterwards.
Gabriel's Touch Barbershop
400 W.50th Street
@ 9th Avenue
New York, NY. 10019
Men's haircut; $20