Once Upon A Time: The Barber

Barber pole, ca. 1938. Before barbers limited ...
Barber pole, ca. 1938. Before barbers limited themselves to cutting hair and shaving beards, they performed surgery. Since the 1700s, the spiraling red and white stripes of the barber pole have symbolized the blood and bandages that were once part of the barber’s trade. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(A story idea hijacked by the true story of hair salons).

Once upon a time there was a barber. In the olden days, barbers did things like bleeding people, which was supposed to be good for you. The only time it was good for you was if you had something like gout, in which case the bleeding let out some of the uric acid and made you feel better. But because gout was a disease of the rich who ate meat and drank red wine, everyone thought that bleeding would be good for everyone else. Medicine, like fashion, tends to trickle down from the wealthy.
So this barber had a barber’s pole, with its red and white lines showing the blood and the bandages he used every day. He also cut hair and shaved people, because at this time they didn’t have little disposable safety razors. They had big, sharp razors that a man could really do a number on himself if he wasn’t careful. So having a good barber was a great idea, as was letting your whiskers grow.
One day as the barber was setting up buckets and bowls for the day’s labors, he thought just how much he didn’t like what he did every day. He wanted to design hair, to give people a new look on life, not cut them and scrape them the same way every day. So the barber went down the street to one of the Harper salons, where women went to get their hair done. He knew there were many salons, but this happened to be the original, where Ms. Harper worked. She had built up the business from nothing to more than five hundred salons, and had created the first reclining shampoo chair. The barber was most impressed by her floor length hair. When they started talking, Ms. Harper told the barber about how nutrition, hygiene and exercise all affected how well the hair looked. The barber saw many clients and asked Ms. Harper about her background. She’d been bound into service as an indentured servant when she was seven, and had worked until she could be free of the place. The barber shared his own servitude to the local barber and found he was able to make her laugh.
Despite their difference in ages, the barber and Ms. Harper were married that year. On her death, Ms. Harper left the barber all her salon franchise. But what he treasured most was the time they had together.
Moral: Sometimes your future is just down the street.


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