Today was haircut day, and I always get such a pleasure going to my barber. That's not only because I like the guy tremendously -- but how we crossed paths.
For years, I went to a barber in West L.A. named Meredith. Like me, she was from Chicago, so we always had good conversations. Then, one day I couldn't reach her store, drove by and saw it had been shut down. It was a shame. I needed to find somewhere else to go, had no idea and just flipped through the Yellow Pages. For reasons I can't remember why, I landed on a place in Santa Monica on Wilshire. I think it was because the place was reasonably close, and their ad looked low-key, which is what I want from a barber shop.
When I arrived, they could have stuck me in any chair. There were about a dozen, and they pointed me to one that was open. "Go over there to Don." When I reached his chair, I saw a handwritten sign he'd put on the mirror -- "Will be gone March 11-15 for Chicago Cubs Spring Training."
I knew I have found my new barber. I knew I had come home.
Don O'Hern was and is great. A real Chicagoan, he comes from a family of firemen, to boot. Just a wonderful guy (and terrific barber, which helps when you're a barber). Eventually, he left to start his own place, Don's Cutting Edge. It's only a few doors down, also on Wilshire in Santa Monica. I've been going to him for 20-25 years, and have yet to run out of wonderful conversation. Most especially during the baseball season, when Cubs talk rules the day. But he loves movie, literature, travel, photography and more.
Not long ago, on a whim I checked Yelp to see if Don was listed there. He is -- and he has a five star rating on 40 reviews. So, it's nice to know that I'm not blinded by Cubs Love. (Here's the start of the first comment there. "WOW. OK. I finally have a place to get my hair cut in Santa Monica that does not reach for the clippers right away and make me look like a marine!" What's funny about that is that Don himself looks like a Marine. Actually, he looks like a doppelganger for former Dodger Kirk Gibson...) It's a small, traditional barber shop, with the walls always changing with artwork (which he'll post from aspiring local artists and photographers), or movie posters from his personal collection, or even his own terrific, framed photos from his travels.
Over the years, we've become friends, even catching dinner on occasion after he shuts to shop down for the night. But mainly, I just like that he's such a good barber (especially for my admittedly simple needs). But mainly above even that, I just love how I happened on his Chicago Cubs-loving chair by total accident.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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