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Religion Column - Rev. James L. Snyder - My Barbershop Quandry

When someone looks at me, they might be tempted to assume that my relationship with my barber is a cordial one. This, however, would be a great error in assumption. I have not always harbored such ambivalent feelings towards my barber, but things have changed.

Once, in my more neophyte years, I trusted my barber with my pride and joy. Not only is my pride gone but also my joy has a different shine to it. In those days, I had plenty of hair, even on the top. Now, after a half-century of going to the barber, it is quite thin on the top and I blame my barber for that. It only makes sense. Before going to the barber, I had plenty of hair, now it is rather thin. Who would you blame?

Besides this, I have several issues with my barbershop.

First, I have a problem with the magazines. It used to be that the barbershop had a wonderful selection of outdoor and sports magazines. Sure, they were several years old but how can you date a classic? The ones now are usually ladies journals or those dreadful celebrity gossip magazines. Who cares who is doing what to whom? The only men that read these magazines are those held hostage in these newfangled barbershops.

In those good old barbershops of the past, you did not have to worry about how you dressed or even how you smelled when you went in. If the truth was known, most of us try ignoring this part of the truth, the barbers usually smelled worse than the customers did. But that did not matter in a man's world.

A man's world is full of odors while a woman's world is full of fragrance. If you know the difference between these two, it means you are a woman.

Now, the barbers are usually women and I always feel like I have to take a shower and dress up just to go and get a haircut.

I have nothing against women, even women barbers. But in the old barbershops where the barbers were men, all of us men could sit around grousing about women. There is something quite therapeutic about venting pent up anxieties. In those days, we did not need any group therapy sessions. We had the barbershop. And what harmony we made together. The consensus among the barbershop group was that all the problems in the world could be traced back to Eve. If we could control women, we surmised among ourselves, and keep them in their place, we could control the general trend of naughtiness in our world today. We all agreed and sat back in our chairs and enjoyed the moment.

Things have changed. Now, when I visit a barbershop the consensus is that all the problems in the world can be traced back to Adam. Imagine that! The one or two men sitting in the barbershop duly note the eloquence of this point. Being in the minority there is nothing to do but go along with it. The biggest reason to go along is when I set in the barber's chair the barber with the scissors and razor will be a woman.

As it stands now, when I am sitting in the barber chair I really do not know what to talk about. That old barber of mine used to know everything that was going on in a man's world. These new barbers, who are women, get all their information from Oprah Winfrey. What she knows about a man's world can be summed up in one word... Stedman.

My dilemma is this. If I am conversant on women's issues what kind of a man am I really? On the other hand, if my female barber is conversant on men's issues what does that mean?

All I need to know about women's issues is what the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage tells me. If I want to be conversant on women's issues, I just need to start paying attention to what she says. But, is it really worth it?

To meander my way through a barbershop session with a woman barber I have learned several phrases that have come into good stead. It is my privilege to pass this kind of woman lore on to other men who find themselves in a barber chair with a woman barber.

"Aw." (This is stretched out according to the situation.) "That's so cute." "That is just amazing." "You're right there, girl."

I do not understand all these phrases but it seems to get me through the ordeal of getting my hair cut at these newfangled barbershops. And, after all, that is all that really matters.

In my defense, I now pay $19.95 for a haircut that used to cost me five dollars.

A wise man once said, "In order to get along sometimes you have to go along."

The apostle Paul understood this quite well. "... I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you" (1 Corinthians 9:22b-23 KJV).

I must confess Paul's motives were much higher than mine. He was anxious for people, no matter who they were, to hear the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul was willing to be misunderstood by just about anybody as long as God got the glory.

The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.

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