Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cat's Barber Shop and the Yadkin 500


There's this strip right outside of Fort Bragg that back in the day was called the Yadkin 500. Not sure if it still goes by that name, but the 2 mile stretch of Yadkin Road immediately outside of Bragg is one of the quintisential Army post strips in the entire world. It has everything--tattoo parlors, military gear stores, strip bars (though not nearly as many as on Bragg Blvd), pawn shops...and barber shops.

My buddies and I counted once, and I kid you not--there are 31 distinct establishments in a 2 mile stretch of the Yadkin 500 where one can get one's haircut for a reasonable price. Tonight, I had the distinct pleasure of patronizing one such establishment for the first time.

Up until now I've taken my haircuts on Fort Bragg, with decidedly mixed results. I never made the move to the Y500. Why? Because as anyone who is familiar with this type of strip can tell you, they can be a little on the sketchy side-and the Y500 sets the gold standard for sketch, at least for the live-ball (post 80's malaise) era. Haircuts haven't been a big deal anyways, and I've stretched the bounds of the Army's uniform and appearance standards by going 4 and 5 weeks between cuts. But that won't fly now that I'm with an actual unit, and need to set an example for the soldiers who I outrank.**

As such, I took some time during my free afternoon today to trim the old lettuce.
But when I got a bit behind schedule, there was no time to make it back to post for a mediocre cut with my local Army barber. The only thing I had time for was, you guessed it, the Y500.

Now, I didn't have a particular location on the Y500 in mind. I figured I'd just drive down the street, and choose the first barber shop I found that seemed to be open, well lighted, and in a high traffic area where the likelihood for Pulp Fiction-i-cation was as small as possible.

I found just such a location in the form of Cat's Barber Shop.

The nice fellows at Cat's were the type of older, southern gentlemen that you feel comfortable cutting your hair--Fox News on the TV, Army crap all over the walls, look like they're 60 but they're probably only 45--you all know the type. I got a good hair cut at a decent price, to include the straight razor treatment on my neck to wrap things up.

And the kicker was, this guy didn't even ask me how I wanted my hair cut. Literally, I walked into Cat's and sat down immediately. I made an apology for my hat head (we like our hats in the Army), and he said not to worry about it--he could fix me right up. And without any further ado, he did just that. He cut and trimmed and razored my lettuce, and he did a good job of it all. I briefly considered interrupting his cutting to let him know exactly what he was looking for...but considering that all Army haircuts are a little silly regardless, I might as well let the man do his thing and see what would happen.

What happened was a great haircut. And I owe it all to the Yadkin 500.

**I know that some of you will rightly point out that as a Captain in a Civil Affairs unit, I don't technically out rank that many people. As best as any of us can tell, the chain of command in CA goes roughly Private, Specialist, Captain, Sergeant, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel, Major. But there are still like 3 or 4 Specialists in my unit, so I have to be strong for them so that the rest of guys don't rag me too hard.

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