A lesson in fatherhood

The Progress – Index, Petersburg, Va., Jun 21, 2009 | by MARKUS SCHMIDT

PETERSBURG — It’s no secret that men don’t like to show their feelings. They hate to cry and they hate to show weakness, especially in front of their wives and children. That’s why many fathers never get to tell their children that they love them — because they don’t know how.

The only place where men open up, at least sometimes, is when they are among other men who feel like they do. And what environment wouldn’t be more suitable for some good old honest man talk than a barber shop?

Some time in February, Calvin McIntyre, owner of Styles & Beyond on South Crater Road, felt it was time to give other men the chance to do just that — open up. Every third Thursday of the month, he invites other men to join the Men’s Forum, where a man can speak his true feelings, even cry, and still be a man.

Last Thursday, the topic was the one day out of the year when every family honors the man of the house. “Fathers Day is celebrated in many countries worldwide,” McIntyre said to the attending men. “Although origins, activities, and actual day of observance differ widely, they all share the common thread of honoring fathers for their role as parents.”

The 13 men in the barber shop nod in agreement. McIntyre stands behind a lectern with a picture of President Obama and his family taped to the front. On a table behind him, chicken wings and juice, for a snack after a tiring, yet energizing debate.

The men sitting in a half circle around him are all neatly groomed. Some wear dress shirts, some just T-shirts. Some are younger, in their 30s, others are in their 60s. Some are broke, some are well off. But they left all of that behind when they came through the door.

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