Today was the final Art of Manliness assignment, which was to get a straight razor shave from a barber.  It’s a pricey treatment ($22 shave + $3 for tip) that takes a while (mine took like 45 min), so definitely not something you’d want to do everyday, but it was a very fun and exciting first-time experience.

For years I have used the disposable Gillette dinky 2-blade razors that comes in 52 packs from Costco.  Not very good, but gets the job done decently enough.  Good razors are just ridiculously expensive.  Have you ever noticed how stores keep their razors locked up (like they do with highly desirable electronics)?  We live in a world where a poor man can’t afford to shave well.

Anyways, I went to Uptown Barber, which I pass by whenever I go to the movie theater near there.  As soon as I walked in I felt like this was a male zone, if that makes sense; it’s rare nowadays to find a place that is very exclusively male (except the bathroom, but guys don’t really bond in there).

Here is what happened:

  1. The barber put me on a leaning chair and trims my facial hair with an electric shaver.
  2. He slathers on hot shaving cream, which felt good… I need to figure out a way to heat mine up at home.
  3. He put a hot towel on my face to soften it up, leaving my nose exposed for survival purposes.  Repeated steps 2 and 3.  By the way, having another man touch my face was… actually kind of nice.  Maybe I’m just a very touchy-feely person, but I kind of wish more people would touch my face.
  4. He shaved me with a straight razor.  It was kind of scary, especially when he got close to my lips (that sounds awkward out of context, but whatever).  Towards the end I felt a substantial amount of razor burn.
  5. He put a cold towel on my face to clean off the cream and to close up my pores.
  6. He put aftershave moisturizer on my face, and it burned a lot!  But of course I acted completely unfazed because I needed to keep it cool.
  7. He put a mirror to my face so I could check myself out.

It was not comfortable to have my face repeatedly scraped with a dangerous weapon.  But I touched my face, and it was the most incredible feeling I have had in a long time.  My face was as smooth as a pre-puberty boy, and he had managed to get very-hard-to-shave places on the neck.  I wish I had a way to record and blog the sense of tactile touch; I just couldn’t stop touching my face.  And it was surprising how a hot towel shave puts one in a very good mood.  I drove home with the windows down, feeling the Autumn weather that was finally here, marveling at the beauty of California chaparrals, unable to stop smiling and … touching my face.

What was never possible with my dinky razors was done, and something in me wishes that I could have this everyday.  It’s a shame that my beard and mustache grows back so quickly.  Sigh.

Simeon Koh


Today’s post concludes my 30-days to a better man adventure pack!  I don’t know if I particularly feel “manly” now, but I think that just shows that it is not about a single act or a feeling of being manly, but the combination of the little things that make a man a true man.

Now that I’m done with this, I’ll go look for other exciting new adventures.  It just won’t be a daily thing like it has been for the last month.  Thanks for having read up to it so far, and be excited for more!