"The Blacks" and other barbershop conversations you don't want to have

Have you ever had this happen:

I walked over for a haircut today. I get in the chair, tell the old guy what I want done, and then start talking about the weather. I don’t want to talk Seahawks anymore. From the weather we go to the civil war, poverty, and then Saudi oil. I am not really paying too much attention, but somehow I look up and the barber has dropped to a conspiratorial tone and is telling something about “The Blacks.” I’m like WTF? Did I hit the way back machine here? I change the subject. Next thing I know he’s talking about “The Mexicans.” I change the subject again. Now he is talking about bird flu and accusing THEM of sleeping with chickens. I am not even sure who they are. Now I am just grunting responses and hoping he finishes fast. No tip from me pop. It’s just so annoying. It’s a discount joint, so I hate to make a scene, get out of the chair, or risk having my hair come out screwy. I just noticed he didn’t even bother to match up my sideburns. I wonder if there is some way they can label the racist barbers.

Has this ever happened to you? What did you do?

I hate those haircut converstations. I don’t tend to have much in common with barbers.

BTW, is it rude to bring a paper and read while you’re getting your hair cut? How about if I read out loud so the barber doesn’t feel left out?


I see it as you’re there to get your hair cut not chat. The hair dressers I go to generally ask how I am, what I want done and then get to work. It might appear rude but I’ve generally got nothing to talk about. For some reason I do a similar thing in cabs, though I generally tip them depending on how friendly they are.

There used to be this barber shop near my house in Kansas City that I would visit every couple of weeks to get a cut and a shave, because the guy that owned the place would actually pull out a straight razor and the hot foam and give you a close one.

His dirty Cocker Spaniel and his dirty child – who I thought was his granddaughter at first, because his wife was so young – would run around the place, exchanging toys and knocking over magazines that were always months out of date. He never talked much to me while he was shaving, but instead talked to his brother, who only worked when the owner was busy with another client.

The guy would hardly ever talk to me, but he’d occasionally casually bust out of a few slurs, which would have been more menacing if he was more than a hundred pounds wet and, you know, actually the least bit intelligent.

I stopped going there after a while, because I realized that for as well as he gave a shave, he couldn’t cut hair for shit. He closed up shop a couple years later.

His family orbited around him because he was obviously the successful one, but they were a strange mix of old and new Missouri poor, like taking the males from an Ozark mountain clan and glomming on to them a typical, pale-legged suburban dropout.

I later found a barber who raced turbo-charged Zs. He was much more fun to talk to, but he couldn’t cut hair worth a damn, either.

My barber mostly just talks about how thankful he is not to be in Russia. His catchphrases include “A professional haircut for a professional man!” and “Never go back to Russia!” These lead to great jokes, such as when he says he’s going on vacation, you can say “I know where you’re not going… Russia!”.

He cuts my hair in 6 minutes flat and is always ready exactly when the appointment is set. I tip $20 on the $14 haircut, and I’m on the low side. I’ve seen him get slipped hundreds.

My barber runs his own shop with his son and his buddy. Only $12 for a haircut, and they use hot foam and a straightedge to give you a shave, included in the price. He has pics hanging up of his old man, who was a professional boxer way back when. Great place. Everyone pays $20 and asks for $5 back.

The worst one those conversations I had was at an escrow company recently. Our escrow officer was too busy to help us, so we were sat with an incredibly ancient guy (turned out to be her dad), who appeared totally clueless about the paperwork and any questions we had. After we finished signing, and were waiting on somebody with a clue to check the papers over, he asks us why we aren’t married. Unwilling to get into such a personal conversation with a slightly weird stranger, my SO tries to head it off at the pass by saying “oh we aren’t religious”. Wrong answer, as the guy immediately launches into a “I really think you need god in your lives!”. We politely decline several times, and he muses that we “sound like his son-in-law, who believes that we all evolved from those… what are they called… placebos!” (I’m thinking he meant amoebas). Unable to see the humor in this, since I’m now totally stressed out, worried that our loan papers are going to be sabotaged by a vengeful creationist, angry at the godless heathens in his office. Eventually he realises that the conversion isn’t going to work, so he switches to asking us why we left the UK to live in the USA, and wonders if it is because we came seeking “more freedom?”. I’m curious what he imagines the repressive regime of the UK is like, but didn’t ask for details.

My barber’s a gamer. We talk counterstrike, Final Fantasy, whatever we’re playing at the time.

My stylist is a golfer with great tits.

Don’t they get in the way of his swings?

You guys could solve all these problems with a nice electric razor and a #2 guard.


And get what, a buzzcut? You could also stay alive by eating only rice and vitamins.


I used to take these multi-vitamins in college. They always made my stomach hurt. One day, I had to pull over and puke immediately after taking a vitamin with my Gorditas. No more vitamins for me.

In that picture, I don’t think it’s the vitamin that was most likely the cause of the vomiting, Ace.

I had the same thing with the woman who cuts my hair and had to get a new one. She’s going on about her night out on the town a couple weeks:

“So we went to this sushi place where everything goes around on a conveyor belt. It was great! It’s totally cheesy though; none of the asian people go there. Us Americans do though!”

That doesn’t sound like anything particularly offensive to me, just valley girl babble.

Isn’t that just the sort of thing that a ditz would say, though? It’s dumb, but it’s not in the same racist league as “blacks are spreading bird flu.”

I guess. The particular way it is phrased may make it babble, but I’ve always found it hilarious that I rarely see a Mexican in a Taco Bell (as opposed to a more authentic Mexican restaurant). I don’t think it is particularly racist to find it amusing that a place supplying purportedly “ethnic” food seems to never get that ethnicity as its customers.

In college my gordita consumption outpaced my vitamin consumption by several orders of magnitude.

Maybe it was a horrible synergy, but gorditas never hurt my stomach and the vitamins always did.

That’s what I do. Usually if they see you’re reading they don’t talk to you.