êShave offers professional shaves at its Rock Center store, and I wanted to get one in order to learn about the business. But there was just one problem: I hate haircuts. Being semi-restrained in a prone position while someone else wields sharp objects mere inches from my head is distressing to say the least. The same goes for massages and dentist appointments. They creep me out. Sometimes, I would rather let my hair grow out and resolve to be completely ignored by women (which, honestly, is not too different from normal) rather than suffer through a fifteen-minute procedure.
So the concept of a professional shave—done by a trained barber in a public setting—was not high on my bucket list. Sure, I had heard that they were incredibly relaxing, and the reviews I had found online lamented the lost art of the pro trim. I had no firsthand experience, of course, so my only references were Sweeney Todd’s pie shop and Bugs Bunny as the Barber of Seville. While musically pleasing, these pieces did little to allay my fears.
Still, the more I read and asked around, the more people sang the praises of the barber’s trade. As the hype grew, I began to be swayed, but I still asked myself, how good could it really be? After all, it’s just a shave.
On my first day of work at the store, I met the barber, Said, a Moroccan immigrant and the Rock Center êShave’s resident hair expert. Jovial and smiling, he greeted me when he walked in the door and began arranging his tools. As customers arrived and received his shaves, I was almost hypnotized by the skill of his hands and the precision of his motions. He had been a barber in his home country for years before coming to America, and in his short time (less than one year) with êShave, he had already established himself as a master and a valuable asset to the team. I enjoyed watching him, but I still had my doubts.
During a lull in business, my coworker, Chris, persuaded me to get shaved at least once to find out what it was all about. I had already changed my daily routine with êShave’s products at home, and Said seemed to know what he was doing, so I took the bait. Said sat me down, tilted me back, and covered me with the sheet. I could have sworn he whispered “My lucky friend” to his razor before he started.
The process was like nothing I had experienced before. First, he rubbed some pre-shave oil on my face. The fruity smell indicated it was either White Tea or Verbena Lime scent, but to be honest, the feeling of his large, soft hands massaging oil into my cheeks made it difficult to concentrate. Then, he covered my face in a hot towel, letting the steam open my pores and preparing my skin for the blade. He covered my mouth and nose a little bit, making it difficult to breathe, but the heat calmed me, and, combined with the lack of oxygen, I found myself gently nodding off to sleep.
Of course, if I slept, I would have missed the most exciting part. From a machine on his stand, Said took a small handful of warm, pre-lathered shave cream and smoothed it over my face with his hand. I wondered why he did not use a brush, but he was so skilled at spreading the cream with his fingers that it was effective nonetheless. As he reached over for his razor, I stole a look at myself in the mirror with my white, fluffy beard of foam, and for a second I considered not shaving at all and letting me mane bloom, but I intended to see this out until the end.
I had never used a straight razor—I had rarely even seen them in person—so when Said approached with the cutthroat in hand, aiming for the soft, defenseless skin on my skin, it was all I could do not to leap out of the chair, face still lathered, and run for my life. But I persevered. He carefully scraped the stubble, starting under my right ear and moving across my face. His movements were so minute that I could almost feel each individual hair being cut. The oils and lathers protected my skin from the sharp blade, and Said’s dexterity ensured my protection. In a few minutes, my face felt smooth, and while I find the comparison to a “baby’s bottom” exceedingly creepy, here it worked.
Then, to my surprise, he started over. Pre-shave oil, shave cream, shave, as if he could have missed something the first time around, when I was almost certain he had not. In his quest for the smoothest possible shave, Said left no follicle untrimmed. Finally, he applied the post-shave soother and shocked me with a cold towel. While before I had been relaxed almost to the point of sleep, these last steps rejuvenated me. He was like a hypnotist, putting me to sleep and waking me with a snap of his fingers. I made a mental note to check to see if he had a pocket watch later.
As I stood up from the chair, I felt my face, smoother and softer than it had ever been. The creams moisturized it, and I saw no nicks or scratches in the mirror. I thanked Said profusely, as I had never experienced anything like what had just happened. I am hesitant to call it a religious experience, but I now think that heaven has a fairly busy angel barber.
Today I went from scared to relaxed to inspired. With the rollercoaster of emotions finally over, I realized what I must do: I am now accepting applications for my own in-house barber, to shave me everyday. Experience preferred but not necessary. Salary: appreciation.