Really, this isn’t anything new. Since I graduated from Columbia in 2006, I haven’t come across a barber that was my regular guy for more than a year.
While at school, I basically had 2 barbers during my 4 year span on campus. At the outset of my collegiate career, I went to 125th Street, where at levels, I had my hair cut by a Jamaican with some real talent. It was great, and quite frankly, he ranks among the top 3 barbers I have ever had, easily.
Then, one of my friends on my football team put me on to a guy giving haircuts on 116th for a lot cheaper than what I was paying on 125th. While I loved my barber at 125th, being on a student’s income had limited my haircuts to once a month. By making the switch to the guy on 116th, who was charging $8 less per cut, it was a lot easier for me stay fresh, and get fresh every 2 weeks. So I made the switch.
When I moved to Brooklyn after graduation, the search began. Actually, the first barber I went to, on Kingston Avenue, would wind up becoming the guy I went to throughout my years in Brooklyn, but I was never 100% satisfied with the cut. He got better with each and every haircut, but it wasn’t until my 3rd year in Brooklyn that I really became comfortable with him cutting my hair on the regular basis. During those first years, however, I experimented with 2 or 3 other guys, none of which worked out, making the barber on Kingston my official go to guy. He wasn’t the best, but at least when I left his shop, my haircut was fresh and people knew I had a haircut, which is more than I can say about the people cutting my hair.
At the beginning of last summer, I moved back to Manhattan, back uptown, back to Harlem, and back near Morningside Heights, where the campus of my alma mater is located. Naturally, one would think that I could go to the same barber shops that I had frequented during my many years in the area. But one would be wrong.
Right from jump, abandoning any ties to my de-facto regular Barber in Brooklyn (hey, a 1 hour train ride will do that to you), I went to the barber on 116th Street with whom I had last cut my hair when I was in college. I asked him for skin fade, the same hair cut I always get, and the brother gave me little if any reason to believe that he was the same guy who had cut my hair all those times back in college. Seriously! This guy must have cut my hair at least 2 dozen times before, and I never recall walking away so disappointed with his work. But when I let him cut my hair on this occasion, I almost wanted to throw up in my mouth when I got a good look at it in the mirror.
So, I also tried going back to the spot on 125th Street. As expected, the same guy who had cut my hair all those times before was long gone. However, I had gotten my haircut from other people there prior to deciding on a regular barber, so I knew this spot had a reputation and a knack for cutting hair that was unparalleled to most places in Harlem.
I got my hair cut by some barber there that apparently had no idea what he was doing. His fade (or my fade) didn’t fade at all. His edge up was whack. And he had the audacity to try and charge me for trimming my goatee without even asking me if I wanted him to do that—of course, I didn’t pay him for that. I walked out angry and frustrated, and couldn’t believe that neither of the two establishments I had went to were viable options for getting my haircut.
So I tried other spots.
And spot after spot—from the one right my own apartment building, to places too far to walk, but too short for a subway ride—I was disappointed by each and every haircut I got. This went on from May to where we stand now, here in December. In total, I have had 10 haircuts in 7 months time, which is far below my usual rate, but it’s hard to pony up that money with so much uncertainty hanging in the balance. I was so desperate for a good, decent, worthwhile haircut, that I actually let the guy from 116th give me simple Caesar cut, and he even messed that up.
Yes, he couldn’t get the Caesar right!
Now maybe it’s me. Maybe, I’m losing my hair and haircuts will never be the same. But there’s no evidence of that. I have yet to have someone tell me that my hair is thinning, nor has a barber told me that my cut is going to look a little uneven because of my hair. Not to mention, when ever I grow my hair (which has happened a lot over the past 7 months), my hair looks as full and robust as it usually does, so I have no reason to believe that hair is the issue.
So I move forward, continuing my quest for a regular barber that can give me the simple, skin fade that I want and used to attain so easily. So if you live in or near Central Harlem, and you know a barber that can cut a nice fade, holla at your boy! Because I can only go through so many more bad haircuts before that 1 hour subway ride back to Brooklyn starts to look a little less wearisome.