D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - I've been seeing a guy about every other month for the 21 years I've lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We have a good relationship and enjoy one another's company. He charges a fair rate for his services.
And before your mind starts racing, I should tell you I'm talking about my barber.
Yeah, that's right. I'm a haircut-from-a-barber kinda guy. Always have been.
Well, not always. When I was very young, my dad cut my hair. In fact, he cut quite a lot of hair in our basement. Though dad wasn't a full time barber, he had more than enough heads to buzz with my many cousins alone. (My dad is one of 12 kids.)
Growing up in the 60s, my haircut was short. Crew cut short. That's the way dad cut it and I liked it. Most of my buddies had crew cuts also.
Of course, that was way before the day of men's hair gel. They did have Brylcreem (a little dab 'ill do ya') but that was for sissies.
Our hair was short. No fuss, no mess.
Sure, I did go through my long hair days. (You should see my college pics.) But I've always been a short hair guy at heart.
Shortly after moving to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I tried one of those national salon places for a haircut. (You know what I mean.) I told the lady I wanted it cut short. But guess what? Her idea of short wasn't even close to barber cut short.
The next time I needed a haircut, I went looking for a barber.
At the time, I was working for K-99 Radio and our studio was in D'Iberville. So, I went looking down the street and stumbled into an old time barber shop.
It was there that my barber buddy, Shag Webster, first cut my hair. He cut my hair short. Barber short. I immediately found a new friend.
More than 20 years later, I'm still a loyal "Shag" customer. He's moved twice since that first haircut of mine, but still has a shop in D'Iberville. He cuts hair in a small barber shop just behind the Kangaroo gas station, just off the I-110.
Shag Webster has become more than my barber. I consider him a friend and a news source of sorts. Want to know what folks in the community are talking about? Duck into a barber shop on a Saturday morning.
Whether politics, high school football, traffic troubles or when will D'Iberville ever get a casino; my barber visits have yielded story ideas and critique.
I'll often ask Shag about what folks are talking about and ask for his input/advice on any number of topics.
Shag raised seven children, so I've also gotten child-rearing advice from him.
I love hearing his stories from "back in the day." He was a Biloxi boy who tells me tales about swimming to Deer Island, catching fish or shucking oysters.
His barber shop is decorated like one should be; from the John Wayne picture on the wall, to the photograph of Shag and his fellow football players on the Perk team from several decades ago. He played ball with the likes of Coach George Sekul, I believe.
Shag is a solid bowler and still bowls leagues a couple times a week at Ocean Springs Lanes.
Yeah, I'm proud to be a barber shop kinda guy. I like short hair. And Shag knows exactly how short. He can watch the TV news and tell about when I'm due for a visit.
These days, Shag jokes that while my hair is fast turning gray, at least it's not turning loose.
Shag finishes the cut with hot shaving cream and a barber's razor on the back of the neck. I always cringe a little, knowing that with a slip of the barber's wrist, that moment could be deadly. But after fifty plus years of cutting hair, my guy Shag has a steady hand. He's a pro.
Thanks Shag, for the years of short hair cuts and interesting conversation. I'll see ya' in a few weeks.