During the ten years that I lived in Boston, I got my hair cut at the same place for seven years. I made it a ritual to get my haircut on Saturdays, every third week. My barber was Anthony, who works at La Flamme in Harvard Square.

In spite of its name, La Flamme is a very down-to-earth barber shop. It’s owned by George, whose regular customers all seem to be the older patrons. There are a number of photos on the walls featuring George with various customers like Yo-Yo Ma, and Michael Dukakis. George is the older Greek man who always cuts hair at the first chair on the left, right behind the cash register. Personally, I never liked the haircuts I got from him. I’m sure he doesn’t mind, though — he has enough regular customers as it is.

George’s brother-in-law, Bill, used to also cut hair at La Flamme, and was very popular among the young children getting their hair cut. He worked at the first chair on the right. I liked getting my hair cut with Bill, but a couple of years ago, he retired and went back to live in Greece.

Anthony is in his mid-30’s and has been cutting hair at La Flamme since he got out of barber school with George’s son (who also works there, in Bill’s old chair). Anthony is the tall guy at the second chair on the right. When I enter the place, Anthony and I just give each other a nod. Then, when it’s my turn, he asks, "The usual?" and gets to work.

Anthony is pretty talkative while he’s working, but it’s in a pleasant way. He’s told me about his family — his two daughters, his father who also was a barber, his sister who lives in Florida. In spite of our many conversations, I don’t think he knows my name; it just has never came up.

Albert had his hair cut by Anthony, once. It was during one of his visits to Boston, and Albert was in desperate need for a cut. Afterwards, Albert said it was okay, "but it looks like your haircut."

When La Flamme gets busy, they start to use their ticket number system. Everyone takes a ticket and waits for their number to be called. When your number does come up, you can get your hair cut by the barber who’s available, or you can say, "I’m waiting" and wait for the barber you prefer. At that point, it’s up to you to remember where you stand relative to the other customers waiting for the same barber.

There are always a few barbers to avoid. You can tell who they are because all of the regular customers will avoid them. In particular, there’s one older barber named Peter who cuts hair in the back of the shop. He can be quick, but his haircuts are definitely all over the place.

La Flamme is at 21 Dunster street, just a block from Au Bon Pain. They are closed on Sundays and Wednesdays. They cut mostly men’s hair, and if you need a haircut, check it out. I try to go back there whenever I’m in town.