I just found out that my barber, Al, has recently retired from his trade. Al was as traditional and professional a barber as I've ever found. He and his family immigrated from Italy, starting out in Montreal. Al cut the hair of Maurice "Rocket" Richard ("Hey, Richard! Two minutes for looking so good!") as well as his team-mates on the Canadiens. In the 1970's, Al moved to Burnaby, British Columbia, where he and his two buddies also named Al set up a barber shop.
I suppose they had been in the same building for thirty years before I met The Three Als. I've never know Al to do anything in his shop but cut mens' hair. He was not a stylist, certainly not a hairdresser, beautician, or coiffeur. I can only think of one woman that ever ventured into his shop, and she was my wife. The moment she stepped across the threshold, everybody stopped completely what they were doing, like she was Medusa and The Three Al's were statuary. Except that they were very polite to her, of course.
For ten years after that, I was the fellow known as "that guy with the wife".
Al must be well into his eighties by now. What a kind and talented barber he was! His hands, rough, gnarled, and even a bit trembly, cut hair as precisely as those of a master craftsman. I was lucky to be his customer for a decade. Al will be a tough act to follow, as I once again with long hair and grim determination seek out a barber who cuts strictly for gentlemen only.
So long, Al, and the best of luck to you!