Friday, January 18, 2008


I went and got a much needed haircut this past week.

Such events are usually pretty routine. I am a guy, after all, and there's just not much exciting anyone does with my hair. I actually prefer it that way.

However, this past week I splurged a little, and visited a place in McKinney almost totally because of the experience it advertised.

Declare Your Men-dependence

That's their tagline. I was intrigued - at least in part because it sounded like something Stephen would say, and Stephen rarely allows himself to be associated with low-quality experiences. Stephen also takes his hair more seriously than any guy I know, which definitely added some subliminal credibility to this "Rooster's" place.

The biggest draw, though, was that they use a straight-razor and hot shaving soap on your neck and around your ears. There was a place in Albuquerque that used to do this - a couple old guys in a shop adorned with faded black-and-white photos of famous athletes and venues, and which always smelled of that hot shaving soap. It was a true barber shop - no "product" lining the windows and no glamour shots on the walls. Just some old Sports Illustrateds and a couple Field and Stream magazines. Since then, I've been willing to settle for the "unisex salon" because the price was the part of the haircut that I was most interested in, and because it's so hard to find an actual barber shop, much less one where the barber uses a straight-razor.

Rooster's was not cheap - $24 is about twice what I usually pay. Inflation's been a beast on the ol' "two bits" I guess. But I fell for the tag line and the memory of that barber shop in Albuquerque, and made my appointment.

Oh wow was I glad I did.

The environment was very man-friendly, to say the least. There's no "product" sitting around or celebrity gossip magazines in the waiting area. Just lots of dark wood, some sports and hunting magazines... and a massive plasma tv permanently tuned to ESPN. In place of outdated glamor shots, they had a few large mounted heads of elk and moose. Yeah, they knew their target audience, I'd say.

Yvonne took me to my chair, sat me down, and after some brief introductory questions (a haircut as simple as mine shouldn't take much explanation), she quietly proceeded to give me one of the better haircuts I've had in a while - which was a good start. As she tucked the towel in the collar of my shirt and lathered up the back of my neck, I smiled a little - this was what I'd come for, and in this all-important skill, Yvonne was a surgeon. Too good, in fact. I was a little disappointed when she finished so quickly. I wanted to savor the experience, and the sandalwood aftershave was small consolation.

But that's actually when it got really good.

She leaned that awesome leather chair back (picture the ideal post-Thanksgiving position for falling into a tryptophan-induced coma while watching football) and then covered my face with hot towels. I had read that a hairwashing was included, but I was expecting the kind of perfunctory rinse that simply keeps those little hairs from falling on your keyboard when you get back to work. This was nothing like that.

I want to say Yvonne used some kind of scrubber to massage my scalp, but that gives the wrong mental image. When Kristin and I were on our honeymoon, she discovered I'd never had a true massage before, and signed me up. The incense was subtle, the soft music was relaxing - pretty much what you'd expect. But before we got to the backrub part, the masseuse warned me that she was about to "exfoliate" me. I had no idea what it meant to be "exfoliated" and was a little concerned that there was any foliage on me to "ex" - but I went along because I thought this was normal. There was nothing normal about it. The nice lady took industrial-grade sandpaper and scraped the top three layers of skin off my legs and back. So when I refer to what Yvonne used as a "scrubber," don't think of something you'd "exfoliate" with. Whatever she used (I still have no idea - remember, my face was happily hidden under a mound of steaming, moist towels), I was just about as relaxed as I can remember being in some time.

When a haircut is remarkable for me, that's generally not a good thing. This was clearly a happy exception. If this is what "declaring my men-dependence" feels like, I may be making such a declaration more frequently.


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