Barbershop and Hockey Talk

She is far more important to me than a friend. She is my trusted, longtime barber at Barber’s

II. She has a remarkable ability to make me feel sexy and confident during the most vulnerable times: job interviews, break-ups, first dates and gender transitioning. Your everyday life stuff.

Tucked in beside the bustling Baked Café on Main Street is Barber’s II, locally owned and operated. Marked by a green canopy and a barber’s pole, it has checker board flooring and red trim accenting black and white walls. Everything about it just feels right.

A man needs a good barber. A place where he can go to get a good haircut at a respectable price. Clean lines. People appreciate clean lines.  

My relationship with my barber is sacred. It took me two and half years in the Yukon to find her. I tried on several stylists and barbers. She was the one who gave me the cut I wanted. I would never cheat on her with another barber – without her permission. I tell her my intimate truths in the 20 minutes I am in her chair and in those 20 minutes I feel as though I am the most important person in the world. Her focus intense, fluctuating between our conversations and my hair.

Often we laugh. Particularly at people who stroll by the one-way mirrored window of the shop and check themselves out in it. While they tuck things in, and pull things out and apply things in the mirror they see on their side, we can’t help but laugh on the other side of the window. They have no clue we can see them.

I have cheated on her only once. She was too pregnant to cut my hair and I was desperate. She gave me permission to see my back-up barber. Although my relationship with my barber is a sacred one, I still need to have a back-up barber. What if your barber has a family emergency when you need them most? You call in the back-up barber.

They’re as important as a back-up goalie in hockey. The key is that the back-up barber should not be related to your barber. Nor should they be best friends. That minimizes the likelihood of both of them being unavailable during the same time span.

In my case my backup barber is the chair next to my barbers. It is perfect, she has watched us fuss, witnessed what I like and heard my life tales. She is perfect to pick up right where I have left off. With the coaching of my barber she nailed my haircut, too. She is good enough to be my barber, but she’s not.

Last year I convinced my barber to play hockey. This decision has forever changed the culture of my barbershop visits. As a transman I play in the Whitehorse Women’s Hockey Association. As such, I drafted my barber for my own team. Our relationship was far too sacred to risk anything like being competitive and on opposite teams getting in the way of my haircuts. She has dutifully held space while I bore my soul in 20 minute sessions while cutting my hair for the past four years. That relationship is worth fighting for.

The barbershop has taken on a new life. Last week I got a text from one of the girls on our team: “Appointment with Kwok, Wed at 5:00.”

Once every month or so you might notice the light on after hours. A group of hockey women and one transman pour onto the checkerboard flooring of the barbershop, talk hockey, get a cut and drink a few beers.

Last week I finally had enough beard to get my very first beard trim. The cut and trim was on the house and my barber sent me home with a set of clippers to go along with our game strategy that we worked out. If you don’t have a barber like that you need one. Give mine a call or stop in to see my backup barber. They will fix you up right and make you feel like the most important person in the world.

In Midwestern Ohio in the quiet of the evening hours men still gather at the barbershop to discuss the local football program. In the Yukon it’s the women and a transman who have claimed this sacred ground and ritualistically dissect the game they live for.

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