Camilles: A Review

When i first walk in, it is silent. there is no smiling receptionist or superficial greeting. i see one man camille, cutting an old gent’s hair, a row of empty chairs with magazines and i immediately know where to go. i pick up a travel mag and survey the room: 2 chairs, pictures cut out of magazines collage the wall (only men mind you this is man’s spa), a jar of blue liquid sanitizing the combs and scissors. this place is clean and this is a man who is proud of his craft.

after camille is done, cutting the old man’s hair, he calls me over to sit in the same seat. he says one-thirty, while standing next to a white board with his appointments on it. no name just the time 1:30, 2:00, 2:30…. this guy is a one-man show.

i tell him that i read great reviews on yelp and that made him smile and he pats me on the back. as he puts the barber’s cape around me and snaps the collar, i ’m thinking what do i tell him; “i want a fauxhawk with side burns and a soul patch”. He asks me do you want medium short? I agree yes medium short. there aint no mixologist here!

this man is quick, cutting like ed scissorhands, using the electric shearer. minimal talk. an old woman shuffles out from the back, turns out it is his wife ida. camille shows me a picture of them, as a young couple in beirut next to a more recent photo of them from their fifty-year anniversary. i am impressed with the longevity. he mentions something about jesus and having a strong faith and i nod in agreement.

so he’s done with the hair and onto the shave.

he lathers my beard and then puts a hot towel over me for a bit and takes the straight razor and starts the shave.
it is meditative, a quality i can’t describe, maybe it is the combo of the sound, the warmth of the hot towel, the closeness of the razor, the trust, how close to danger this ritual actually is – one slit to the throat and it’s all over. he puts the hot towel over me again, more lather, more straight razor, a little clean up dusting, gel and we are done.

as i go to pay, he says i want you to look at this and he shows me what he normally charges which is listed on the wall, more because of my scraggly hair and beard, but he says i don’t want to charge you that much. he scribbles on a piece of old mail, instead of $70 turns out it is $58 for a cut and shave. i give him $70 anyways.

he wishes me a happy new year and ida offers me a cappucino. i decline, i walk out and the day seems clearer, cleaner, i’ve got the smoothest little baby face.