We live in stressful times. Between the rising costs of everything from gas to groceries to health insurance and the unstable economy leading to more job loss than ever before, most people are suffering the ill effects of stress with very few healthy outlets for it. Yet, for men, there is a healthy, relaxing option to release the stress of the week. It is a ritual that many men have forgotten in the hectic pace of today’s world – the Sunday shave.
While a comparison could be made to the typical “spa day” for women in that they are both relaxing personal care activities, the atmosphere of the barber shop is a far cry from the spa. It is more a place of camaraderie between men, filled with scents of shaving lather and old leather.
There is something almost homey about the place as you walk in. When your barber greets you, it feels like being welcomed into an old friend’s home. As he ushers you towards your chair, you are already starting to feel stress melt away.
Once in the chair, the magic begins. After placing a towel around your neck to protect the collar of your shirt, your barber then presses a warm, steaming towel against your face to soften your whiskers for shaving. Yet, it also seems to soften the hard edges of your stress as well as you inhale the steam and feel its warmth spread along the lines of your jaw and cheekbones.
As the towel is removed, you can feel the cooler air brush along your skin just before you are once again encapsulated in warmth from the hot foam that the barber meticulously spreads over your cheeks and jaw. The scent of the shaving cream permeates the air with a smell that reminds you of your father and grandfather, an unidentifiable smell that just says “man.” After the application of the foam, the barber pulls out his straight razor, the super sharp edge gleaming in the light.
The barber draws the blade against your skin in smooth, swift strokes, each rasping away the hair with a whisper of sound. Yet, it is not only the hair that those blade strokes remove. With each hiss of the blade against your skin, the stress of your life seems to be removed as well. In such a relaxed atmosphere, it is easy to lose track of time. The barber seems to be shaving you for an eternity, yet in reality, he works swiftly and cleanly while paying attention to every nook and cranny of your face. He even removes the fuzz from your earlobe.
After the shave is complete, the barber runs a warm towel over your skin to remove any excess shaving cream, then applies aftershave to your freshly-shaven skin. The scent and sting against your raw skin energizes you and jerks you from the relaxing stupor that the act of shaving had placed you in, similar to diving into n chilly pool after lounging in a hot tub for hours. You walk out of the shop energized and without stress, ready to face the challenges of your life with a refreshed sense of self.