Shave: Reflections at the Razor’s Edge


I got a shave today. Everybody and I mean everybody was telling me that I was beginning to look like a wild animal. Truth be told I looked like a bear and I quite liked looking like a bear. I still got a shave, just to shut everyone up.

So earlier this morning,  I got up, drove myself to Felipe & Sons and sat down on the barber’s chair and told my barber to take it all off, my facial hair I mean.

Now this is probably your cue to ask me why do not I just shave myself. Why go to all this trouble to do something that you can do on your own? Well, a lot of the things we pay for are things we can do ourselves. We pay for somebody to cut our nails, massage our feet, cut our hair. Heck a lot of us can drive and yet we would prefer to be chauffered. We have things done to us that we can do ourselves because we damn well want it done for us. It is not a matter of laziness. It is a philosophical objection.

The other reason is that barbers are damned good at shaving people. You see those safety razors you see at the grocery counters right before you pay? The ones with the five blades and the rotating handles and the edging blades? Those are hella expensive yet they cannot quite get the consistency of single straight razor. With a straight razor,  you get silky smooth cheeks that are so perfect for dancing with your lady love as you whisper sweet nothings in her ear.

There is also the ritual involved a barbershop shave. In a way, it is like going to Church and your priest is your barber. First, the barber reclines that marvel of the 20th century, the second greatest invention known to man (the first being deep fried Twinkies) –  the barber’s chair. Then with a magician’s flourish he fishes out a wet hot towel which he slaps onto your face. The hot towel is just a bit below scalding which after a few minutes becomes a warm pleasant sensation that lulls you to a dreamlike state. During this time, your barber inevitably dissappears, doing some sort of ablution probably to keep his blade keen and true. He then proceeds to wipe away your face by vigorously rubbing all your features.

After which he slathers on some shaving cream using the hair of some dead animal. In other barber shops, they just use their fingers but now I quite prefer the dead animal hair brush. In circular motions, he applies the cream with a care that I associate with curators.

Then he gets out his straight razor and proceeds to remove all of my hard earned facial hair. The razor glides across my skin and I could feel it moving to and fro, again with an uncanny precision that could only be the result of years of experience.

The denouement is a massage that is at times far better than anything you will get from the spas. Then the barber props me up again and I get to see the stranger in the mirror. The same sad eyes are there, the scar on my eyebrow giving me a somewhat rogueish appearance. Without the facial hair, I have changed from grizzled scarer of children to a baby faced coño boy.

I stand up and I pay the cashier, making sure to tip my barber for a job well done. I get out of the shop, the sun on my pale face. I walk out looking like a different person yet feeling like the same person inside. I just changed my face, a chameleon that chooses to hide by being conspicuous.


Ang Huling Hugotero


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  1. It’s funny how changing one physical feature seem to make as look like a new person, outwardly. And how others care more about how we look than we do. Sure looking “presentable” or “good” should not be ignored since we live in such a society that appearance is always criticised, but it’s just frustrating sometimes how we need to fit a certain mould to look considerably “presentable”. #rantover haha


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