I received one of those group deal emails that advertised a special discount for a new men’s barbershop: Two haircuts and a shave for a great price. It seemed like quite a bargain. I was interested, I was enticed, I wanted to buy it. At that price, even if it wasn’t great, how bad could it be?
I really need to stop saying that because I have had more near death experiences in barbershops than any other location.
And regarding the discounted haircut and shave I should have known better. I have made enough poor decisions in my life to know when things are a bad idea.
Things like free shaves.
Had I actually known better, I might have avoided the worst 20 minutes of my life. But I was so blinded by the discount I couldn’t think logically.
After reading some reviews online I decided to purchase the deal. I then went to the barbershop and requested the specific gentleman who got the best reviews online halfway thinking that he would be good at what he did.
It’s amazing who can get licensed to wield scissors these days.
In fact, it is actually interesting how the words Barber and Butcher are just a few letters off. I wonder if they have their beginnings in a similar location. Perhaps there is an institute that screens people for professions by asking a series of questions.
All right so I see here that you want to use a knife. OK how would you like to hack away at a dead piece of meat? No? How about a human head?
Now that I think about it, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the barber shops I’ve been in also had animal carcasses in the back.
So I go to the barber shop for my first haircut. I sit down in my chair and my barber, (we’ll call him Hernando) Hernando asks me (I think) what I would like to have done. So I tell him, and he kind of does what I want, though not without abusing me.
For instance, some barbers, when they comb through your hair and find a knot, will relax and try again slower. Not Hernando, he took that as a reason to demonstrate his wrist strength, which while impressive, did not impress me. And when he ran the electric clippers along the back of my neck I began to wonder if whether or not he’s actually using an electric knife.
So despite the minor violence, I depart mildly satisfied and a little red.
Six weeks later I return for a haircut AND a shave. Again, I see Hernando. Again he beats up my head while cutting off my hairs. And then he tips back my chair so he can destroy my face.
I tell him very clearly (because I’m almost sure he doesn’t speak perfect English) that my face is VERY sensitive so please don’t shave against the grain and don’t shave it twice. Just go once with the grain.
No worries. I’ll take good care of you.
I laugh because that is what I do when catastrophe is at hand.
As soon as Hernando starts, I realize, he is not a barber. He is a barbarian. Conan with clippers. Attila with a straight backed razor.
Had my face been made of sun weathered leather, his treatment might not have been so bad. But sadly my face is made of skin. Baby soft tender skin with emotions.
I can’t tell you exactly what he did because my eyes were closed so tightly I think I could actually see the past.
There are certain rules about shaving that ensure that the recipient of the shave do not end up dead. One of these rules includes not stretching the skin while shaving the face to avoid irritation. Granted this is something the old barbershops used to do. And since this barbershop was in the "old style" apparently it meant "anti-evolution."
So... Herando is dragging this razor back and forth back and forth across the same swatch of skin of my face like he is raking a rock garden. MY face is not a rock garden. My face is a marshmallow garden that needs to be tended by delicate flocks of feather carrying underweight butterflies.
He shaved with the grain, against the grain, above the grain, below the grain, into the grain, through the grain. And I’m not sure about this, but I’m pretty sure at one point he used sandpaper.
I kept praying for it to be over but it wouldn’t stop. He couldn’t stop!
Finally there was a pause and I was almost positive it was over. But not quite. No it was time for the powder. He put powder on my face the same way Animal from the Muppets would.
The whole purpose of me warning him before the shave was to prevent the pain, distress, and more pain I faced over the course of 20 minutes. I really thought that my warning would have been enough to prevent such a massacre, but not even close.
Now you’re probably wondering why I didn’t stop him. Well I am an optimist and I kept thinking it might get better. I kept thinking surely the pain must be over.
And also I figured it was better that he did his damage to my whole face, so I didn’t have half a swollen face.
At least the good news is I won't have to have my face exfoliated until.. well until my face grows back.
When my shave was finally over, as I stood up out of the chair Hernando looked at me with a face of I told you so and said without a trace of irony, humor, or sarcasm in his voice:
You're very sensitive.