Sunday, December 22, 2013

Shave On

I put it off for three whole days, but today I finally gave in.

I shaved.

I hadn’t touched my face for most of the week after deciding that I'd go to a barbershop on 74th Street and let Garry, the man with the razor, work his tonsorial magic.

And be advised that I didn’t go for some run-of-the-mill whisker wipe. Oh, heavens no. I ordered up the royal shave for both my magnificent mug and my beautiful hairless head.

It was decadent, selfish, a ridiculous waste of money—and I loved every second of it.

Hell, I haven’t gotten a shave from a barber since the Reagan Administration. That was back when I went to Leo, a little old Italian man who had a small shop on 68th Street.

Leo used to wave to me every morning as I walked to the subway station-even before I became a customer—and one of the first articles I ever did as a reporter was about Leo for a now defunct publication called Bay Ridge Life.

Then Leo closed his store and for some reason I stopped getting shaves. I’m not sure why, but I suspect I felt guilty paying for something that I could clearly do myself. Whatever the reason, I decided that the dry spell had to end.

Getting a barber’s shave to is like going back in time to the days of spats, speakeasies and bootleggers. I felt like Al Capone sitting in that chair, though I had no plans of beating anyone to death with a baseball bat…yet.

I’m glad I had the day off because the royal shave takes a princely amount of time. I sat there for more than hour. But if you're going to do something then take the time to do it right.

Garry told me that a prospective customer once came into his place and asked for a “quick shave.”

"I told him no," Garry said.

Slow Hand

Good move. In this age of instant everything, it’s nice to see someone rejecting the unhealthy need for speed that’s infecting a society with no particular place to go.

Once he was done shaving my head, Garry rubbed my gleaming pate with an electric massager that had my teeth happily rattling away. It was a like a giant joy buzzer for my skull.

And then came the hot towel.

Garry swathed my face in steaming fabric, leaving my nose exposed like a periscope poking out of the Artic Ocean. I tried to not to think about Albert Anastasia, the head of Murder Incorporated, who met his end in a barber chair at the Park Sheraton Hotel.

Fortunately we weren’t interrupted by gun-toting assassins and Garry was able to send me out into the world as smooth as a newborn baby.

“You won’t have to shave for three days,” he said with uncanny accuracy.

My head felt so shiny I could’ve taken a seat on top of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. It was shame that I didn’t have anyplace to go. I was looking so sharp I thought about logging on to a dating website and setting up a last-minute rendezvous. You should never waste a good shave.

The experience cost me $40 plus tip, which my sister assures is nothing compared with what women shell out for a trip to the salon.

But still I felt guilty. I could’ve put that money toward theater tickets, or clothes, or maybe I could’ve given it to one of the many charities that send me appeals in the mail. No, I decided, no more barber shaves for me.

And there I was this morning in my bathroom, dragging a plastic razor across my face. It was so tedious and inefficient. And I was cutting myself to pieces. My sister encouraged me to go to Garry once a month and I’m thinking she might be right.

I feel better about myself and the world in general when I get a shave. So why not take a little time and money and make myself look even more handsome than I already am?

I’m sure Al would have wanted it that way.


Ron said...

Hi Rob!!!!

I just wanted to stop by and say that I LOVED this post! And it's funny because I used to work for a men's shaving product company (The Art of Shaving) which goes back to the old-fashioned way of shaving (with a brush and razor) and totally fell in love with it. In fact, I STILL use their products!

"I feel better about myself and the world in general when I get a shave. So why not take a little time and money and make myself look even more handsome than I already am?"

Exactly! I mean many women (and some men) get monthly facials, so why not treat yourself to a shave?

And hey, the whole experience you described (about the royal shave) sounded AWESOME! And I think the price is very reasonable.

Hope you're having a wonderful Christmas holiday, buddy!

Looking forward to getting back to blogging and catching up with you in the next week!

Have a super week!

Rob K said...

Hey, Ron, how's it going?

I just saw an ad for the Art of Shaving on the subway. I made a mental note to check out their website.

The royal shave was indeed an awesome experience and I confess I'm a bit spoiled now.

Hope you're surviving the holiday madness down there in Philly. Have a great Christmas and we'll see you soon!

Bijoux said...

I don't think my husband has ever had a shave done at the barber, but he does INSIST on going to a barber for a haircut. Sadly, there are very few shops left around here.

Rob K said...

We're losing them, Bijoux, that's for sure. We have hair stylists now, but so few old timey barbers.

Not that need one anymore...

Rob K said...

Take care, btw!

Anonymous said...

I gotta say there are some things in life that might seem unnecessary but they just make us feel good and we should do that. For me that would be getting my nails done. Although its been awhile when I have them done I just feel better. Sure, I could just paint my own nails but the salon just does them better and they last longer. Might sound silly but its something that makes me happy and thats all that matters right?

Rob K said...

"I gotta say there are some things in life that might seem unnecessary but they just make us feel good and we should do that."

Yes, exactly! We all need to be pampered in some way every so often. Happy people spread the happy, so we should be happy as much as possible.

See you at the salon!

v said...

rob, sounds like a good shave, shoot i even enjoyed it and i didn't get a shave. lol. i wish i could have seen a photo of you unshaven. next time, post one.

nothing wrong with a little indulgence once in a while. i used to go just get my hair washed every sunday morning. i could do it myself, but it felt better when someone else scratched my scalp.

Rob K said...

Hey, Val!

Yes, it was quite a shave indeed! Good idea about the "before" photo. I'll make sure to post one if I do this again.

The Sunday morning hair wash sounds cool--you deserve it!

Take care.