I love going to the barber's, especially when it's an old school shop like Bridge Square Barbers in Northfield. There's never a wait, and the vibe is very small-town 1950s, right down to the case full of Clubman brand "men's grooming products." The regular barber's a genial older guy, a lifelong Northfielder, who wears a funny maroon tunic and rocks the shears. For whatever reason, he thinks I work at St. Olaf, so he's always asking me if I know this guy or that "gal" there. I never do.

Today, though, we got to talking about having kids, and he mentioned that he and "the wife" had just had their fifth grandchild. "Boy or girl?" I asked. "Girl." "What's her name?" I asked. He stammered for a few seconds, then said, "Geez louise, you weren't supposed to ask me that. You know, I can't remember. Lise? Lisa? Something 'long those lines." I was awed. His grandpaternal ignorance perfectly complemented the napalmish aftershave he slapped on my shorn neck a few minutes later: two facets of the aloof, alcohol-scented 1950s father.

My experiences at Bridge Square Barbers contrast sharply with a first-time/last-time sort of episode I had at an erstwhile favorite barber shop in the Foshay Tower in Minneapolis. It's not family friendly, but if you want to read about it (and you don't, Mom), click here.

email: christopher at tassava dot com