It is a fact that we visit our barbers more often than we do our doctors. We share more in the barbershop than with our spouses. The barbershop is for much more than a haircut. It’s by far one of the most relaxing places for any man and a place for honest conversation and trust. You may go for a shave but you often leave with a lot more.
The barbershop is never quiet. There is always a conversation brewing. No topic is unwelcomed and all persons can share their opinions. This freedom to express oneself is very vital for us men. Generally, men prefer to overthink and then keep a tight lid on what’s going on inside their heads. This action generates stress. On this premise is laid the significance of the free atmosphere within the barbershop. At home most men tend to be listeners. But here, people will listen to you rant about anything. It’s good to get it out and hear the sound of your voice. Sometimes we need an audience.
We aren’t so quick to see the doctor, worse a psychologist. Our proverbial couch is the barbershop. Here you will find men who speak authoritatively on issues they may have never experienced. Everyone is an expert with little to no training whatsoever. However, on occasions, you may receive some practical advice based on a shared experience. Remarkably, one guy suggested that a measure of your body’s good condition is whether or not you “strike the bishop” i.e. have wet dreams. Men tend to be brutally honest or extremely creative with their stories. You can tell by their passion. One thing I’ve learnt, passion can’t be faked.
There’s one thing you don’t want to happen in a barbershop – the revelation of a slightly funny story about you. First of all, try not to be seen in an awkward position by any of the barbers because they’ll remember and that story will be repeated when the shop is full. Then your story will achieve folklore status and you will always be remembered by it. In Jamaica we refer to this as mouthin’ which is really a form of teasing. When all the men in a room turn on one of their own and start cracking jokes about him, it can really get out of hand. If you find yourself in such a position, in a barbershop, get your haircut and leave asap!
I have heard just about every type of story from barbers and men visiting the shop. From what happened with an annoying girlfriend to a narrow escape from a suspicious boyfriend. You can get the inside scoop on the lastest news about anyone in the music industry. The lives of politicians and well to do persons are open secrets. All those mysterious robberies or murders are solved right there in the shop. Men will share personal details about every aspect of their lives. Now, of course there is a lot of embellishment because you want the audience to stick with you. Little things will be added or subtracted to cause the story teller to look like a genius.
The one recurring topic for which every man will participate in the discussion is “women”. Here, all men are connoisseurs with varying degrees of knowledge and understanding. There’s the little guy who’s quite inexperienced but speaks loudly. Then there’s the chap who’s been with just about every type of woman there is. The ones he doesn’t know personally, he knows someone who has been with them. He’s viewed as a sage. It’s fascinating to hear the various ideas of how to treat women. Want to know how to handle your woman? Visit the barbershop. They’ll tell you what to do when she’s annoying, rude, jealous, clingy, independent or a combination of all the above.
Very little is said about the girl of your dreams because most of these men have no desire to settle down. At least not quite yet. Raise the topic of marriage and majority of the comments are negative. Which is really sad, because marriage is beautiful when done right. This takes me to a serious point: what if we used the barbershop space to share information affecting men’s health and lifestyle? The probability for high impact is great. We are here almost every week, completely relaxed and honest about who we are and what we do. It’s the ideal place and I’m not alone in my view. Dr. Joseph Ravenell shares his idea at TED talk – How barbershops can keep men healthy.