Monday, June 21, 2010

The Perfect Shave

Ever since my mom started called me “Prince” when I was 13 and sprouted some dark fuzz on my upper lip, I’ve been obsessed with shaving. My stubble has always been a prevalent facial feature, which is why people have always thought I looked older than I was. This made me very popular as a college freshman because I was able to buy beer without an ID. It feels like shaving has always been something I’ve just had to do, like showering and wearing clothes.

There was one summer when I actually got paid to shave. I was a test subject for Gillette. Two or three times a week, I would make a 10 minute drive to a testing facility—a plain, white science lab looking room filled with individual sink basins. Me and about a dozen other guys would shave half our faces with one product, the other half with another and take a quick survey afterward where we would have to count any nicks and cuts. They paid 15 bucks a shave. A great deal for something I was doing for free every day. Suckers.

About six years ago, I grew a beard as a way to save my face from the torture I must inflict courtesy of micro thin steel blades scraping its surface. For I have the unlucky combination of a thick beard and super sensitive skin that bleeds every time I shave. No matter what product I use or how I wield my razor. Thankfully I like the look of my facial fuzz and based on the compliments I often receive, others do too. My beard now feels as much a part of my identity as my hair color or my name.

A few years ago, my curiosity with shaving led me to stumble into an upscale barbershop in Beverly Hills. I mention that it was in Beverly Hills only in order to conjure up the very image you have in your head right now. The place was new and immaculate, with a row of shiny old-fashioned barber chairs the back, a crew of sharply dressed barbers and a waiting room with fancy leather couches and a big flat screen TV. It was like a day spa for men. I couldn't resist it for long and soon went in for a trim and a shave.

You know the opening shot of The Untouchables, where Robert DeNiro as Capone is leaning back in a barber chair with a hot towel on his face while people scurry around pampering him? That’s exactly what it’s like getting a professional shave. It’s taking something that I do nearly every day and making it luxurious, like getting a massage while you shower.

The barber is a pro with a straight blade, and is able to get a much closer shave than I’ve ever been able to while making sure that both sides of my beard are straight and level. (You'd be surprised how difficult this can be.) During the shave you’re treated to hot towels, hot lather, oils, cold towels, talc and a head and scalp massage at the end. It’s bliss.

Paying for a shave is an indulgence that I don’t treat myself too very often but every once in a while I will take some time to relax and get a professional shave. Guys, as a general rule, don't tend to pamper ourselves very much. It's usually women who get the manicures or get hot rock treatments at the spa. But this is something that's just for us. And if you ever have the opportunity to get a professional shave, I say take it. You won't be disappointed.



SciFi Dad said...

When you say, "barber shave" you think "Al Capone in the Untouchables".

I think "Sweeney Todd".

... said...

"Ever since my mom started called me “Prince” when I was 13 and sprouted some dark fuzz on my upper lip"

Haven't read the rest of the post. Laughing too hard.

Your escalator operator said...

Sounds pretty luxe. Taking off on SciFi Dad's tangent, my memorable barbershop scenes: Coming to America and Chinatown.

ZenMom said...

Sounds like it's worth it.

As long as you don't have the nice barber shave the beard ALL off. I am firmly on the "Beard Fan Club" side of the line. It looks great on you!

Andrea said...

"like getting a massage while you shower."

Can't say I've ever heard of that one but then again, I've never been to a spa either...

Daddy Geek Boy said...

SciFi...Well, you do have a bloody good imagination. (Get it? Bloody? Oh nevermind.)

... ...I wish I could tell you that I was embellishing that for the sake of comedy. But no, it's all true.

YEO...Rocky Marciano was good, but compared to Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano ain't shit.

Zen...My Father's Day shave, the attendant asked me if I was going to lose the beard and then called me a wimp when I said "no." I'm like, 'Dude, I like my beard!"

Andrea...I haven't either. Closest I've come is a spa that had three shower heads, one for the head, body and legs. I never wanted to leave.

Vancetastic said...

Sometimes at regular barber shops, they whip out a little warm foam and a straight blade just to even things up, and I'm transported to that place in Beverly Hills just for a moment. (I have not been to the actual place -- I am using it metaphorically.)

Also like the fact that more and more regular barber shops -- I'm thinking the Floyd's chain here in LA -- have taken to giving you a 30-second massage with one of those electric dealies before you stand up. Your hair always looks a little better when your legs are a little wobbly.

Lucasb said...

That's awesome! I keep talking about trying to find a good old timey barber shop here in Indy to get a good straight razor shave. I think I found one but haven't gotten in yet. For Father's Day this year I was given a double edge razor, brush, shave cream. Best. Shave. Ever!