Yin, Yang, Aggieville

Come with me on a quick tour. It won't take long. This place is not very big.

Enter from 12th Street just past the barber pole. The first thing that catches your eye is a stuffed pheasant perched high on the wall between of pair of mirrors. Next to the western-most mirror is a framed poster of the Almighty Bill Snyder.

The consensus emerges quickly with little dissent. We'll handle Kent State easily, provided the O-line shows up.

A magazine rack contains the usual masculine-leaning suspects: Field & Stream, Sports Illustrated, Popular Mechanics and their ilk.

Two barbers, one crusty/cynical, the other sunny/optimistic. Yin, Yang. Mine's Sunny. Tried Crusty once when Sunny was OTL. Moments into that haircut, I reached the inescapable conclusion that two cynics in the barber-customer relationship was exactly one too many, thank you very much.

A television is mounted high near the ceiling. Ben Cartwright's going to bat for a widder lady embroiled in a heated battle with a corrupt judge over ownership of a local newspaper, of all things.

I play my part: "Whaddaya bet Ben'll save the day?"

Crusty: "Yeah, but it'll take him 45 more minutes."

The clientele is a distinctly MHK-esque mix of lifers, college guys, Fort Riley soldiers ("Gimme the three fade..."), working stiffs and a handful of us precipice approaching professional types with increasingly enlarging foreheads and ever-dwindling creative 'do options.

In my life I've transitioned from a crew cut to the Brylcreemed pompadour to the Dry Look (Gillette's caps). Hair down to my shoulders, then back up over my ears. Now, back to the crew.

Full circle, follically speaking.

There's a doorway in the corner. Some of the lifers amble back there like they own the place. Not me. Not yet earned that right. I hear a toilet flush and these ol' boys amble back, hitchin' up their britches.

We don't take numbers or make appointments. We politely govern ourselves. You're in a hurry? A pressing post-haircut engagement? By all means, please go ahead of me. I insist.

No website. No groupons. No tweets. Especially not from the taxidermied ringneck.

The perfunctory black combs and scissors marinate in glass canisters of the mysterious blue fluid found only in barber shops. Shaving cream dispensed from a heater. Sunny uses it and a straight razor on the nape of my neck.

Were I to ask, he'd gladly release the catch on the chair, lather me up, whack the blade a few times on a leather strop and the close shave would commence.

Some of the amblers do that.

The weather's always safe ground. This one's right down my wheelhouse. Having spent the last eleven years of my life working side-by-side with farmers and ranchers, I've learned creative ways to talk about the weather.

Never seen a woman in here. Probably just as well. It can get pretty salty. And the p.c. envelope is often stretched. Today, Crusty was lamenting a recent business decision of a fellow Aggieville merchant.

He led with his fellow merchant's ethnicity and... well, you get the picture. 

Sorry, Crusty. Not takin' that bait.

A better man mighta called him on it. Play that one out to its logical conclusion. He'd have tried to walk back his lament and I'd have come across as Holier than Thou.

As much as I dislike this cliché, it is what it is.

If only Ben Cartwright had ambled in.