J.R. Barber Shop is good times. But good times are not always easy to find. Unless you live in the area or get lost looking for the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center, you probably won’t run across the place. That would be a shame. The area is about as remote and unspoiled as one can find in San Antonio. The barbershop is a small wooden building prominently marked with the universal poles hidden along Pleasanton Road, about four miles south of 410.
It was a stretch for me to go to a barbershop because I’m bald, but my editor suggested I go in for a shave. A shave? Do people still do that? I let my beard grow out to a nice four-day thickness and headed south.
Barbershops seem to be either modern/metrosexual/chic or old-school/hyper-masculine/hunter’s lodge-esque. I’m reducing clip joints to extremes, but J.R. Barber Shop was much closer to the latter. I wore an old hunter’s vest to try and look less out of place, which was as laughable as my beard.
I sat in one of a line of chairs on the left and waited for my turn, in one of three well-used barber chairs — one for each of the Rodriguezes (It’s a family business.). A Spanish-language program played on an old television.
Once I was in the chair I requested a shave, giving the lame excuse that my beard is too thick for normal razors. Mr. Rodriguez went to the closet to look for a neck brace for the chair so I could lean back and get the full treatment. He couldn’t find the brace so we decided to switch chairs with the guy getting his hair cut at the next station.
I next learned that the water heater had just gone down so there would be no hot towels, a crucial aspect to getting a proper shave. Out of professional concerns, Mr. Rodriguez didn’t want to proceed but I convinced him it would still work. Right as Mr. Rodriguez began applying a minty, pore-opening lotion to my face, the elder Mr. Rodriguez needed his chair back, so we switched stations, again.
I tried to keep my neck hyper-extended as I asked the subtle details of a professional shave. I’ve been told that in the women’s world of hair- cutting, conversation is an informal requirement for a quality cut. In the men’s world, I have to wonder if the opposite is true. Nonetheless, Mr. Rodriguez was a great sport for putting up with my questions and comments, especially considering the shave lasted about 45 minutes.
He probably thought I was a spy from the Metro Health Department. I was only the third person in the last seven years to request a shave, and on the day the hot water goes down, no less. I figure since I received good service and treatment under the worst of circumstances, everyone else who goes there should be just fine. But if you are looking for a shave, I would call first before heading down. •
J.R. Barber Shop
16886 Pleasanton Rd.
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