Jim Siergey: Natty At Nat’s

December 9th, 2018

My hair was getting scraggly so I went over to Nat’s, a neighborhood barber shop that I had been to once before.

On that initial visit I nearly drove through the big front window as I mistakenly thought the tiny bit of concrete in front of the joint was big enough in which to park. It wasn’t.

I have a tendency to make a first impression that smacks of buffoonery and danger.

I consequently learned that there was a parking lot in the back with a rear entry. I also learned that the guy cutting my hair was not Nat. Nat was the woman working the chair next to us.


This time, feeling like an old pro, I parked in the back, which was void of other cars, and accessed Nat’s establishment through the rear door.

As I entered the emporium I was faced with an empty shop except for Nat and another woman. They were sweeping and straightening up.

“Are you open for business?” I thoughtfully inquired.

“Oh, yes, we are.” Nat replied, “We were so busy yesterday, even past closing hours that we didn’t feel like cleaning up. So we’re doing it now.”

Using my arcane knowledge of facts and figures I offered, “Aren’t barber shops usually closed on Mondays?”

“Today is Wednesday.”

I need to get more arcanely involved with the calendar.

Seated with the big barber bib draped over me, I told Nat that I was interested in a trim. Nothing too severe, I added.

She asked if I wanted to keep the hair on my ears.

I thought to myself, “Well, jeeze. I do the best that I can but, unfortunately, excess ear hair comes along at the same time as fading eyesight. So, no, I don’t w…”

Then I realized she was talking about the hair on my head that was touching my ears.

“Oh, no.” I spoke with a hint of embarrassment.” Not necessarily.”


Barber at work…


As she fluffed my hair fenders, which she referred to as “wings”, she said “I mean, I’m not gonna give you White Walls.”

“White Walls?” I repeated and then immediately realizing what she meant, added, “I never heard that term before.”

“That’s what the old guys call it.”

She proceeded to snip and clip and when she had finished she handed me my glasses and held up the giant hand mirror so I could inspect her handiwork. It looked fabulous. I felt fabulous.

Then she asked, “Shall I trim your beard?”

A lump formed in my throat. This was really getting invasive now. This could be worse than letting someone else pour milk into your cup of coffee. How could someone know how much is enough or too much?

As I began to Kramden (“homina, homina, homina”) she pounced upon my tentativeness and said with soft assurance, “Y’know, just get rid of these stray hairs and stuff.”

So I relented and consented.

She produced a large electric clipper with an angled attachment that resembled a locomotive’s “cow catcher” and proceeded to run it though my beard like she was mowing a lawn.

It felt like she was shaving off my beard but, yet at the same time, didn’t feel that way. It was a facial dichotomy.

She finished and brought out the giant mirror again. OMG, my beard never looked so well-trimmed before. This tool she brandished sure could do a lot more than the tools I use, pinking shears and tweezers.

As I paid her asking fee to which I added a healthy tip, I proclaimed to Nat, “I feel like I’ve been to a tonsorial spa!”

My comment was met in the same way most of my comments are met—with a pause and a hesitant chortle.

I wouldn’t have it any differently. It’s the way I roll.

Sometimes right through the front window.


Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Almost Like Tom Thumb’s Blues


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