In light of my new endeavor, I decided a certain rite of passage was in order to launch my new venture into the Travis series. It wasn’t a complicated ceremony, no, I simply got up, threw a leg over the Harley, and headed down to the local barber, the kind with the traditional peppermint candy pole. It was the first time I’d been to this little shop here in this quaint town. So after hearing the little bell ding above the wooden door, I took a seat and waited on a vinyl-covered chair that must have been fifty years old, all polished and gleaming to match everything else in the room. The experience was like being thrown into an old picture show, and the smells, ah, the smells. Old men sat in wait, wearing genteel scowls, the years etched into the thick hides below their piercing gazes. Yeh, those were the men of the past, and I had found where they gather like a tribe, telling stories with their gravelly voices, and letting their eyes reflect the moral of the tale … with maybe a hint of a grin for those not yet wise enough to understand. In silence lives wisdom. Then there was the old barber; a master at this craft, a good talker, a very amiable fellow. His name was Gus (of course it was). I call him ole Gus now. Anyway, he took the paper bills from a customer, told him to give Janet his best and thank her for the cookies. He then gave me a wary look, lifted the apron like a bullfighter challenging, and said, “Well what you waitin’ for, young man? That stuff ain’t gonna cut itself.” A few old-laden chuckles sprinkled the room. So I respectfully strode over to take my station on the supple leather chair. He didn’t ask me what I wanted. And I didn’t bother telling him. So while he began scraping stubble off my jaw with one of those straight razors that could split the hairs of an atom, I got to thinking, and we got to talking. These days men seem to think that more blades will give a better shave. Marketing has fooled the masses of males who walk around around all plastic and pretty, unbeknownst that they are being swayed to open their wallets. Then there are all those fancy-smelling schemes that the TV says will have the ladies jumping all over, falling to their backs with legs in the air, drooling in wont of that man who carries that aroma. “Boys, boys, boys,” said Gus with a couple dejected shakes of his head. Then, with another scrape of my jaw, he asked the air, “What happened to the men?” I didn’t respond, just looked about the shop, pulled the musk of traditional aftershave into my nostrils, and thought: They’re right here, Gus. They’re right here. Men do not need more. It seems that less is best. After pushing from the chair, I paid the Man with a ten spot and a smile, told Gus it was nice to meet him and that I’d be seeing him soon. I went out to the sidewalk, listened the last dings of the door bell behind me, smoothed a hand over my jaw, threw a leg over the Harley, fired it up and sat listening to the grumble of my heart. I took the long way home. Then I stood before my gleaming-restored 1920’s Underwood typewriter, with my smooth face emitting a hint of musky splash, and I was thankful that there are still little places like Gus’s to remind me of what being a man is. I perched my hands over the keys. Here we go, Trevor. Get ready to breathe. One blade and two wheels, brother, that’s all we need. One blade and two wheels….
–Parts of this musing of mine belong to an article that is now under consideration for publication in EasyRider magazine