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As featured on National Public Radio, Car Talk has become America's most popular puzzle game
Tom: I didn't know you could find yourself in urgent need of a haircut.... What, he's just driving along, when suddenly he realizes, "Geez, I really need a haircut?"
Ray: Yes. Something like that. Actually, he said, "I need to take a haircut."
Tom: Right! "I gotta take a wicked haircut. I'll never make it to the next exit."
Ray: Exactly. So he finds himself in desperate need of a haircut, and he takes the next exit: Exit 411, a little one-horse town named One Horse, Nevada. And, as luck would have it, in One Horse, Nevada, there are two barbershops so he has to decide which one to go to for a haircut. Our traveler goes to barbershop number one, and he looks in the window. There are no customers in that barbershop.
The barbershop is kind of messy, and even the barber -- who is the only one in the place -- is kind of messy, too. He's unshaven and has a lousy shirt on. There's hair on the floor, and even his haircut is lousy. So this fellow says to himself, "Maybe I should check out the other barbershop in One Horse." He moseys along, which is what you would do in One Horse, Nevada, if you were there.
He arrives at barbershop number two, and he looks in the window. It looks terrific. It's nice, and neat and clean. The mirrors are clean and shiny. Even the barber himself looks neat and well-groomed, with a great haircut.
Tom: Is he wearing one of those white jackets?
Ray: Of course -- with the comb and the scissors in the pocket.
Tom: His name wasn't Mr. Gigi?
Ray: No. I think it was Bruno. As a matter of fact, the other guy's name was Bruno, too. So there it is. Barbershop number one: a pig sty and crummy-looking barber with a lousy haircut. Barbershop number two: neat place, well-groomed barber, nice white shop coat, comb in the pocket, and a great haircut. This is a two-part question.
Part A: Which barbershop does he choose?
Part II: How come he chooses the messy one?
Ray: The answer is very simple. Tom didn't get it, but like I said, the answer is very simple. In One Horse, Nevada, there are only two barbershops, and it's perfectly logical that one barber must get his hair cut --
Tom: From the other barber! Like if there were two dentists. Hey, we could use this puzzler again with dentists. We can use it every week!
Ray: Two mechanics!
Tom: Two tailors!
Ray: Our traveler has to go to the barber with the lousy haircut, because he's the guy who cut the neat-looking barber's hair.
Tom: He got that haircut from the sloppy guy! Of course! Who else would he get it from?
Ray: The barber with the neat-looking shop is the lousy barber. Why is his shop so neat? He has no customers.
Tom: Neat, huh?