Neilly’s one-chair barbershop always had at least three magazines, including that one which advises young men on how to be at their best. Wearing $900 shoes is on the list.

Gi-Gi was on the chair undergoing a tune-up on his style of choice: the “Pietro Pistole,” inspired by the hero of the TV series “Peter Gunn.” While they waited, Joey and Eddie discussed the magazine’s list of the one-hundred best bars in America, and what was the best thing to drink in each of those bars.

The men in the barbershop considered themselves experts on the subject and agreed they would not be caught dead in any of those bars, while admitting the likelihood they might be found dead in some other one.

“In a good bar you should never be reminded that it might be day time outside,” said Eddie. “No windows looking out or people looking in.”

Agreed. What else?

“No drink should ever have more than three ingredients.”

“Except for a bloody mary, and nobody should be allowed to order a bloody mary after one p.m.”

“No live music.”

“No music of any kind.”

“And no food either.”

“Except for chips and pretzels.”

“The bartender should be named Dave or Kathy.”

“You lost me there. I don’t see how that makes any difference.”

“Would you be okay with a Jeffrey?”

“I see your point.”

“That would be wrong.”

Their favorite bartenders were already named Dave and Kathy.

“What about TV’s?”

“One on the game with the sound up.”

“Where they’ll call you a cab and put it on your  tab.”

“That’s asking a lot.”

“There’s precedent. And so’s there for dying in the right bar.”

They bowed for a moment of silence. The missing member of the gang had gone that way.

“No mirrors.”

Gi-Gi said, “What are you, a vampire?”

“Who wants to look at himself with half a heat on?”

“Maybe one framed photograph on the wall.”

“Like who?”

Neilly and his three clients pondered this for a long moment. No one was willing to risk making a fool of himself. It was Eddie who finally said, “Rocky Marciano,” and that nailed it, a unanimous choice.

“Reasonable prices and intelligent conversation.”

“Where everybody knows your name,” said Gi-Gi, putting a cap on it.

“I don’t know your name,” said Joey. “I know it ain’t Gi-Gi.”

When the last of them had his haircut, they walked together for a drink at the bowling alley. 

The one thing every bar should have? Proximity.