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English for Everyday Living
At the Barbershop
|A barber chair goes up and down and swivels around.||This red and white pole is the common symbol for a barbershop.||This woman is having her hair styled.||Little boys are not always happy to have their hair cut.|
The traditional barbershop was a place where men gathered to relax and socialize while they waited for their turns in the comfortable, leather-cushioned barber chairs. The barbers cut and trimmed hair, trimmed beards and mustaches, and shaved those customers who wanted that service and were not afraid of the very sharp straight razors that were used. Sometimes fathers brought their sons to the shop for haircuts. Sometimes mothers brought their sons, but they often just dropped them off and came back for them later. The barbershop I went to as a child had a large, brightly-painted wooden horse, the type found on merry-go-rounds, standing by the front window. It was a great treat for young boys to sit on the horse holding the reins as the barber cut their hair. Of course, when the boys felt they were too old to sit on the horse, they moved to the regular barber chairs that the men used.
|A barber's most useful tools - a comb and a pair of scissors||Women often go to a beauty shop to get a manicure.||It is a woman wearing a mudpack to reduce the wrinkles on her face.||Some men read the newspaper or a magazine while getting a haircut.|
As I am writing this, many memories are crowding into my mind. I remember the smell of Lilac water and talcum powder. I remember the slight sting of the witch hazel the barber patted onto the newly-shaved back of my neck. I remember the snick-snick-snick of the scissors and the buzzzzz of the electric clippers. I remember walking through the little piles of hair that had fallen to the floor and noticing the many different shades of hair all jumbled together. The barbershop also sold personal grooming products such as safety razors, shaving mugs and brushes, shaving soap in round cakes that fit into the mugs, shaving cream in tubes, various brands of facial astringents and hair tonics, combs and brushes in several shapes and sizes. I remember using Hopalong Cassidy Hair Trainer when I was young. It was a thick, grayish slimy-looking liquid that you worked into unruly hair with your fingertips. You then combed the hair into whatever shape you (or your mother) wanted and waited. Within 30 minutes, the hair trainer dried, cementing your hair in the decided-on shape. It would withstand running, playing, blazing sun and hurricane-force winds. Only large amounts of water or combing with a strong arm could break up the petrified clumps of hair. It did the job.
|Many shops today employ female barbers or hair stylists.||This woman is relaxing while her hair is being dried.||This is a modern version of a traditional shaving brush and razor.||Here is a modern hair styling shop for men.|
Some men have a lot of hair and some men have no hair. A man with no hair is bald. A man can be bald because his hair has naturally fallen out over a period of time or because he has had his head shaved. Many men are bald on the tops of their heads but have a fringe of hair around the sides and back. Some men let the hair on the sides of their head grow long and then comb those long hairs over the top to cover the bald place. Men's hair can be blond, brown, black, reddish, gray or white. Middle-aged or old men may have white or gray hairs mixed in with their regular-colored hair.
Although one can still find these old-fashioned barbershops from time to time, especially in smaller towns, much of the business has changed. Today, many shops employ hair stylists, not barbers. Sometimes these stylists are even female. You are as likely to see them using a hair blower and styling brush as the traditional scissors and comb. Some barbershops call themselves Uni-sex shops , meaning that they cater to women as well as men. There are even shops that provide manicures, facial treatments and massages for their male customers. What is this world coming to?
Expressions heard or used in a barbershop:
Exercise A: In the spaces below, write the meaning of each word and use each word in a sentence that you make up. Verbs will include their principle parts. Use a dictionary to find the meanings of the words.
|Word||Meaning||Use in a sentence|
|trim, trims, trimmed, trimming, trimmed|
|nick, nicks, nicked, nicking, nicked|
|dye, dyes, dyed, dyeing, dyed|
|curl, curls, curled, curling, curled|
|style, styles, styled, styling, styled|
|style (a noun)|
|curl (a noun)|
|shave (a noun)|
|shave, shaves, shaved, shaving, shaved|
Exercise B: Use words from the sections above to fill in the blanks in the following sentences.
1. Jim went to the ____________ to get a _____________.
2. When Martha saw the gray hairs on her head, she went to the _____________ to have her hair _____________.
3. Mark decided to let the barber _____________ his beard.
4. The barber used ____________ and ___________ to cut the little boy's hair.
5. When very curly hair was the style, many men and women decided to get a ______________ at the ____________ or ________________.
Answers to Exercise B:
1. barbershop, haircut
2. beauty shop, dyed
3. trim (shave, dye, cut)
4. a comb, scissors (clippers)
5. permanent, barbershop, beauty shop
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