From the blog For God, For Country, and For Yale, I discovered the website The Art of Manliness. One of the articles there "Rediscovering the Barbershop" describes my exact situation. Snip:
"Every time I go to the barber shop I just feel manlier. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps it’s the combination of the smell of hair tonics and the all-man atmosphere. But more so, it’s the awareness of the tradition of barbershops. Barbershops are places of continuity; they don’t change with the shifts in culture. The places and barbers look the same as they did when your dad got his hair cut. It’s a straightforward experience with none of the foofoo accouterments of the modern age. There are no waxings, facials, highlights, or appointments. Just great haircuts and great conversation."
I went to a barbershop with my Dad when I was a kid. I am not sure why but at some point I started going to a chain unisex salon and was usually unhappy with my cut. There was always a long wait, usually with few choices in reading material to pass the time -most of the magazines were for women, and the haircuts ranged from bad to ok, depending on what woman cut my hair, all for a high price. A couple of times I got my hair washed in a sink by a woman who had "European Style" armpits. Finally, I looked around and settled on a barbershop that turned out to be right down the block from where my grandparents used to live. What a difference! The magazines were for men, the guys doing the cutting were manly men, all from some indeterminate country where men are still men (I still can't figure out what country it is and don't really care). They shave my neck with a straight razor, trim my eyebrows so I can see, and slap a hot towel on my face which is awesome. Someday I will get up the nerve to have a real shave with a straight razor, which is a specialty of theirs. At Christmas time there was a small table set up with some complementary cookies, wine, and vodka! I will never go back to a salon.