Fear the Beard No More

Okay, so I grew a goatee sort of thing starting when I didn’t shave for 4 days on our last trip with the delayed luggage.  I had a Mustache all through my 20’s, 30’s and early 40’s, back then I found the best way to make it grow fast.  In grad school I had a full beard.  I thought this would be a fun change, and maybe make me look a little more rakish.

The beard in all its glory

Unfortunately, Gail hated it.

To be fair, when I was young my beard came in soft and flexible, but now it is stiff and prickly.  I kept waiting for it to soften, and that didn’t happen.  So today, I indulged in one of the great male pleasures, the barbershop shave.  My electric razor does an excellent job day in and day out, but it isn’t the right tool to take off a beard.  That takes a cutthroat razor and a skilled hand.

I get my haircut in an old fashioned shop in the local shopping center.  My barber is Patrick, a guy who loves his work and is one of the few still willing to give a shave–most shops won’t do it anymore.


Patrick say that after a while barbering is just hanging out with your friends while cutting and styling their hair.  Life is good when that’s your outlook.

The shave is an old ritual, starting with the application of shaving foam, then hot towels to soften the beard, stropping the straight razor, first shave, more foam, more hot towels, second shave, cold towels, astringent, a touch of Bay Rum and out the door.  In the old days a man would get a barber shop shave often, even keeping his own mug, brush and shave soap in the local shop, but those days are long gone.

When a man has a straight razor to your neck, it’s best to sit still.  Fortunately there was an idle barber who turns out to be an excellent photographer, so here is the work of Vincent:

The process is exotic to a modern man, and as sybaritic as any spa day you could imagine.  It also provides an incredibly close shave–11 hours later and my face is still smoother than I can get it by myself.

Life’s pleasures don’t come cheap, of course.  A haircut costs me $17 (now that I’m 65), but a shave is $25, and the wise man gives a good tip.

Here’s what I look like now:


My face is smooth as a baby’s butt, and Gail will kiss me again.  I guess that’s a good trade.


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