I like Antonio’s, mostly because it reminds me of all the other barber shops I’ve visited regularly. Not the mall-type franchise stores that I patronized in college–I never liked those–but the ones in Smalltown, U.S.A., where I got my hair trimmed in the company of older men who chatted pleasantly about matters of no interest as the radio purred softly in the background. I found a place like that when I first moved to New York twenty years ago, and last year I found another one in my own neighborhood. You don’t hear much English at Antonio’s, just the soothing murmur of Spanish-language conversations whose subject matter is scarcely less intelligible to me than the talk of business and sports that I recall from my Smalltown days….
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