We hear it from Ray – age 42, from Fourways, Johannesburg: a regular guy with regular fears. And maybe, just maybe, a new lease on the barber chair.
It all started off at my barbershop downtown, actually. Elli was giving me a shave and a buzz cut when he asked me a (random) question about my nose hairs and whether they were a little long. It’s not something I’d thought about – ever – but, looking in the mirror, I thought, ja sure, they could do with a little trim.
So I told him to go ahead and carried on texting. Next thing, before anybody could say “what the…” some hot toffee was in my nose and, as quick ‘n nasty as a chop from the Karate Kid, everything that had once lined my nasal cavities was yanked out like a rotten tooth – without anesthetics. You can imagine the word that came out my mouth next – and it wasn’t “thank you, dude.”
But, while it was no doubt a hairy experience, there was something about the new smooth lining of my nose that got me noticing other things about me that could have used some pruning and improving – and not by DIY (or Elli, who lacked finesse let alone forewarning). But where to go? A salon? Even the word sounded feminine to me. I mean, salons are for chicks, right? A place where they pretty themselves up, paint their nails and, for whatever reason, put tinfoil in their hair. WEIRD. And NOT FOR OKES.
Well, that’s what I had ass-used.
As happens in life, pretty much the next day, a friend of mine (a cyclist) had his legs waxed and, well-oiled, was showing off his calves to me over coffee – and on Instagram. I asked him where he’d had it done and he proudly stated, “At the salon, my guy.” When I teased him whether he had a pedicure too, he shook his head, and said, ”Those days of salons being taboo are over, dude. Get with it!” and he proceeded to tell me how his hot shave had come with a double whiskey, too. Enter Sorbet Man!
My nose hairs were growing back fast and furiously and it was getting time to man up: either by going back to Elli (eish) or braving somewhere that brought back memories of pink rooms, waiting for my mom to finish her facial or wax appointment after school (double eish). Needless to say, I couldn’t pluck up the courage to book an appointment over the phone, but one Saturday – wearing a cap (incognito, you check me) – I ventured into the most manly-looking salon I could find and, on being met with a room of dudes, breathed a sigh of… relief? Not only were they a normal-looking set, but not one bloke even bat an eyelid, nor the lady at reception when I booked.
Instead, everyone in there seemed to be actually enjoying himself – and were walking out with, I don’t know, an air of man pride? I had to admit: it looked good. And it wasn’t Jaws-like scary. Or pink. Or in any way frilly. And then it hit me: Man, where have I been?! Living under a rock? Thinking callous-free heels and hands are reserved only for the ladies and tiny feet? That it’s not beastly to rock a well-groomed beard, clean-shaven neck, if it makes you better – smooth arms, calves or, let’s just go there, butt cheeks too?! Suddenly, whiskey in one hand, paper in another, rugby on the big screen above, my feet being rubbed, the salon seemed like a secret retreat; an oasis of pleasure (and some degree of pain, I’ll admit) and a place where, afterwards, you just walk out feeling better; walking taller, looking prouder and, even, in some ways (and I’ll say it boet): more like a real man.
No wonder women have loved salons for so long. Go figure.