Choosing a place to live is never easy. You have to carefully choose based on culture, climate and of course proximity to your crazy ex. Restraining orders aside, “responsible adults” are going to tell you that your career and intangibles like “fit” are the most important considerations, but they are wrong. Finding (and loving) the 3 most important places in a man’s life should be atop that “pros” list …
Barber Shop. Sure you could go to SuperCuts for a haircut, but you could also go to Ruby Tuesday for a steak dinner. If you want the filet mignon of haircuts you have to go to a master chef. Finding a good barber is much more important than finding a good doctor or dentist. What the name Ray is to pizza, the name Tony is to haircutting. More likely than not his name is some variation of Tony (Anthony, Antonio etc.) and he is a sole proprietor of his eponymous barber shop. The aforementioned establishment will likely be between some variation of Asian establishments including but not limited to a Chinese restaurant or dry cleaner and a bodega in a part of the city that you wouldn’t frequent at night. A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t feel a bit nervous pulling up, you’re in the wrong place. You’ll see a barber pole and a discrete sign that looks about as old as the man who is about to have a straight razor centimeters from your jugular. If you see barber chairs that don’t look like they belong in Mad Men or any women, you’re not in the right place.
Dive Bar. I’m not talking about the place where you make bad decisions on Saturday night or even your favorite happy hour spot, I am taking about the “roll in on random Tuesday at 11 AM and they have a draft beer and shot of Jack waiting for you.” The beer will be distinctly skunked since the keg is well past its “best by” date as only you and other neighborhood alcoholics frequent this establishment. You hate when non-regulars find their way here and you wouldn’t eat the food if it were the last morsel on earth. The unisex bathroom is covered in some variation of soft to hardcore pornographic reading material and or carvings of names, dates and “call x for a good time.” The bartender is the owner, janitor and tenant of the apartment above the bar and his breath smells distinctly of cheap whiskey and failure. It likely has some Irish name, a video poker machine that is always occupied by the same person and a cigarette vending machine despite them being outlawed since the 90’s. Due to abysmal sales, health code violations or both, this place will likely shut down during your stint. But have no fear, your favorite watering hole was built on an Indian burial ground and this land will forever be cursed with sad pathetic bars until it’s finally condemned. So saddle up at the new McSomethingOrOthers and enjoy the ride.
Deli. As important as a local dive bar is to your ease of inebriation in a neighborhood, a deli is important for your sustenance. This 1000 square foot space will act as supermarket with it’s slightly better than a gas station snack selection, a bank with it’s $9.75 fee, non descript ATM, coffeehouse with it’s oft burnt brew and liquor store for it’s overpriced beer. Seventy five percent of the food you consume will come from this store and includes a daily egg sandwich, beef jerky and a chicken bacon ranch sub/hoagie/wedge/grinder for dinner. The other 25 percent of your food comes from Happy Hours and your mom’s care packages. Criteria for selecting a deli includes owners who speak little to no English but are from one of the big sandwich making powerhouse countries (Italy, Poland, Israel), at least a C health score rating (because who are you to judge) and serving of Boar Heads deli meat. Bonus points are awarded for establishments that sell lotto tickets, tobacco products and adult magazines, since this will make it a one stop shop for all of your vices. Equally, if not more important than any of this are the actual sandwiches coming out of this place. Inclusion of chips or a side (read: potato salad or coleslaw) baked into the price is an instant game changer. A good deli proprietor like a good bartender will know your name, know your sandwich and every once and a while charge you for a hard roll when you got a sub. If you pay him in cash, your relationship will grow exponentially despite the language barrier. After all, every body understand the power of green.