Over at The Art of Manliness blog, Brett & Kate McKay recently capped off their “30 Days to a Better Man” series with an article extolling the manly virtues of that tapped into a soft spot I’ve long since had.
Y’see, the day before my wedding, my brother Rich (whom I hadn’t seen for several years prior due to him being stationed at a USAF base in the Philippines) & I went to get haircuts together. We scoured the town trying to find a barbershop that offered old-fashioned straight razor shaves but we were advised that (at that time) nobody was doing them out of fear of AIDS. So I just kinda dismissed the notion and never really looked back.
That was 13 years ago…
On a whim last week, I phoned around to see if I could find a barbershop that does this now and on Saturday, I took the plunge and finally got that elusive straight razor shave I had backburnered for so long.
Was it everything I’d thought it might be? Well, my usually-stubbly face felt as soft & smooth as a baby’s bottom and my moustache & goatee has never looked more neatly & precisely trimmed. And to be sure, it was a distinctly masculine-feeling thing to do. But…
I’m not sure I chose the right barber to do the task.
There were no hot, moist cotton towels or fancy facial prepwork to soften my whiskers. No ceremonial stropping with that ominous schtick, schtick sound of the cold, glinty steel razor being dragged across a timeworn piece of leather to finely hone its edge. No bushy badger brush clinking in the old ceramic cup of soap to whisk up a warm soapy lather. Nope, my first ever old-fashioned straight razor shave sadly featured none of the quintessential rituals that would’ve made it so much more of a momentous venture.
There were, however, lots of nicks that stung like fierce little rattlesnake bites when the barber hit me (without warning!) with the thankfully unscented, but nonetheless very potent post-shave astringent.
Still, if you were to ask me if I’d get a straight razor shave again, I’d say “Yes!” Now that I know that some barbers do offer this service again and I’m past the initial apprehension of having someone come at my tender face with a big, gleaming piece of sharpened metal, I do think it’ll happen again — but with a different barber next time!