One of the most enjoyable liberties from this semi-retirement phase of life is not shaving every day. It’s not that it takes much more than 5 or 6 minutes to execute. It’s just the mundane motions of the hot water, shaving cream and sharp razor that was a part of my daily routine for 40-plus years now seem so unnecessary.
I’ve never really been a fan of the electric shaver. Just didn’t cut it. Every time I would use one, my first impression was that I still needed a shave.
On those occasions in my younger years when I might skip a day or take the weekend off, so to speak, my father-in-law would always ask, “Is your razor broken?” He was retired U.S. Navy and a retired Navy Yard electrician, and he still shaved every morning. Of course, he also would cut the grass, wash his car, pressure wash the house and fix a leaky toilet before 10 a.m. so that the day wouldn’t get away from him. He has since passed away, and I miss him every day but could never keep up with him.
Anyway, back to shaving. While waiting on a car repair recently, I felt like it might be relaxing to find a barbershop that offered a shave.
There’s a chance I had romanticized the entire experience. After all, who seeks a perfect stranger to stand over them with a sharp razor in their hand?
The more I thought about it, the more I wanted it. Could I find a shop that still offered the experience? There were two barbershops within walking distance, so I was on my way.
I’m not sure what I wanted more. The shave or merely a hot, steamy towel draped around my face. With a three-day stubble working, the anticipation grew, though, quite frankly, I wasn’t entirely sure this was something barbers still offered.
As I walked into a traditional shop with the red, white and blue spinning pole on the outside and the sound of electric clippers on the inside, I thought my chances were pretty good.
“Can I get a shave here?”
The owner quickly replied, “Not anymore, too many liabilities because of blood issues and health concerns.”
This shop stopped shaving people a few years ago. It was probably just as well they didn’t offer this grooming service anymore. Not sure I’d want to put myself in the hands of somebody who hadn’t done it in a decade or so.
As I opened the door to leave, the bell above it rang, and I was told of another place not far away that did offer facial shaves, but it might cost an arm and a leg.
The next place was everything the other wasn’t. Upon entering, soft mood music played while the smell of various oils wafted around the room. There were three chairs, one was occupied and two other hair-cutters were awaiting their next customer. I knew this place was different because "shop" was spelled with two p’s and an e.
“Can I get a shave here?” I asked. “Absolutely, do you have an appointment?,” one of the non-busy barbers replied.
They offered me a card and asked if I’d like to make an appointment. I thanked them and wandered aimlessly back to the car repair shop, not far from this shoppe.
Lean back and relax
I’m not sure if I really wanted a shave that day or was just hoping for a nostalgic respite that included a hot towel, a soapy shave and a period of relaxation. I had definitely prepared myself, mentally, for a time-warped moment that’s not that easily achieved these days, at least not without an appointment.
I’m not really an appointment person. It doesn’t mean that I’m not on-time, I’m just a little more impulsive about some of my more perfunctory day-to-day duties.
Sitting in a barber’s chair for a shave, to me, is like being in the company of an artist. The closeness of razor to whisker along with that barber knowing the angle of best access to move both with and against the grain requires true skill and a steady hand.
When you cut to the chase, this is probably more about being pampered than anything else. For ladies, this is probably akin to having your nails done. It just makes you feel better.
I’m sure the mood to get a shave will strike me again. Will I eventually make an appointment? Probably not. The best remedy for scratching this itch might just be to drench a small towel in hot, steamy water and wrap it around my stubbly face.
Reach Warren Peper at email@example.com.