I NOW know how old age is defined. In blokes, anyway.
It has nothing to do with how often you have sex, or whether you sit down for a wee.
It depends on whether you go to a barber.
I told my 23-year-old daughter I was going to the barber.
She asked: “What’s a barber?”
When I told her she said: “Oh, you mean a hairdresser.”
But a barber is not a hairdresser.
As I understand it, a hairdresser is where you go when you want streaks in your hair. It’s where you go when you want loud music and a monologue from a Cool Chick about what she said to Monica when she broke up with her boyfriend.
It’s where they stick your hair together with something called gel.
But I already have streaks in my hair. I have so many streaks it’s been mostly streaks for years. In those places, that is, where I have hair at all.
And I don’t want gel in my hair. If I wanted anything at all in my hair it would be Brylcreem, but why would you draw attention to a scalp as smooth and hairless as mine.
And I do not want loud music and a monologue about Monica.
My barber talks about the weather. He talks about politics. He’ll tell me a dirty joke that won’t be funny. When I don’t laugh he’ll tell me he didn’t think it was funny either, when it was told to him.
And he’ll ask me slyly if I need anything for the weekend. It’s a lost art, asking this question. Only barbers can do it. As they brush the bits off your collar they’ll say: “Anything for the Weekend, sir?” with a capital W. And they manage to make it sound as lascivious as a Roman orgy.
In case you don’t know, this is a reference to the days when barbers were the only reliable source of condoms. (Chemists sold them, too, but would ask you loudly and with shock, “Does you mother know you’re buying these?”).
I always refuse, of course, because it’s none of his business. But I was demoralised when I discovered he only ever asks his older customers because they find it flattering.
He doesn’t sell the bloody things any more, anyway!
Barbers are an anachronism. When I first had to go to them they used to shave you, too. Steaming towels and lashings of lather and a man with a cut-throat razor. When you walked out (if you walked out… a cut-throat razor needs a lot of skill) you felt like a million dollars. And very cool.
You can’t feel cool walking away from my barber. He has bad teeth and a glass eye.
And he only has one style. If you ask for a businessman’s haircut, you get the same thing as if you asked for a Tony Curtis.
And what’s more, if you did ask for a Tony Curtis he would know what you meant!
I don’t want to be old. I want to be cool. I am going to try the uni-sex hairdresser my daughter goes to.
If they tell me they don’t do pensioner rates they’re going to find out how cut-throat razors got their name.