GULFPORT, Miss. – For sailors looking to maintain a clean-cut, professional image, there’s no better spot in the state of Mississippi than the barber shop at the Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, and no better barber than Hakeem Washington.
Just ask Washington himself.
“Man, I gets all kinds of raggedy-looking fools walking up in this biz, and when I’m through, you ain’t even gonna recognize the hard-charging, steely-eyed killers that walk out that door,” boasts Washington, a certified cosmetic follicle technician who learned his trade by shaving dogs at a local veterinary clinic.
“What can I do for you today?” he asks, addressing a customer. “Do you want a high and tight, or a high and tight?”
“Um, no, actually, I just need a little clean up around my ears and the back of my neck,” the sailor replies. “Just a low fade, and nothing off the top, please.”
Thirty seconds later, the mortified sailor stares blankly at his reflection, seemingly at a loss for words.
“There you go, my man, just like you said. High and tight, and nothing off the top,” says Washington, gesturing towards the man’s wavy, three-inch locks erupting at the crown from an otherwise completely bald head. “Next!”
As the apparently shaken sailor fumbles through his wallet, the next customer hesitantly looks at Washington, then at a group of sailors in the waiting area who have suddenly taken a keen interest in their phones or whatever publication they can get their hands on, before pointing to himself and silently mouthing, “Me?”
Washington nods, and the zombie-like sailor slowly walks towards the barber chair.
“I just need a one, all around,” the sailor stammers. “My chief said my hair is way out of regs.”
“One high and tight, coming right up,” Washington announces, rapidly shearing the man’s head before the sailor can protest.
The distraught sailor appears to fight back tears as he runs his fingers through a fresh Mohawk.
“Yeah, ain’t no doubt I’m the best there is at what I do,” Washington proudly states. “Next!”