From 2000 – 2010, I’ve had my hair cut in one place: Astor Place Hairstylists. You descend the stairs into the basement of a building at 2 Astor Place, you tell the guy at the front desk you want a haircut, he looks around the large room for an open seat, points you in the right direction, you sit down and listen to the buzz of the hair trimmer for ten minutes while your locks fall to the floor, then you get a paper receipt that you bring to the front, and they charge you $15 bucks. It’s efficient, it’s cheap, it’s easy.
In contrast, my friend recently took the subway uptown and spent $80 at a trendy salon to get his head shaved. Shaved! I would have gladly done it for $40. Then again, I would have probably buzzed a funny word into the back of his head.
But last weekend, my girlfriend told me about a little place she’d heard good things about, somewhere between the chop shop and the palace of hair. Neighborhood Barbers, a men’s hair only joint on 9th street in the East Village. We walked up to it and I peered inside. Only a few chairs lined up in a place the size of a boxcar.
Normally, trusting my hair to somebody new would make me more nervous than a cat in a cactus patch, but the kudos posted on their window, from Playboy magazine and other respected men’s publications, gave me confidence. I felt even more at home when I discovered the latest Playboy magazine among their reading material. Kelly Brook = Hot. Although she’s way hotter in the movie Survival Island.
I felt so comfortable, in fact, that when I sat down in the barber chair and saw the guy next to me getting a shave with a straight razor… I asked my barber, Mike, for one too.
If you’ve never had another man’s soft, smooth fingers massage your face, you’re really missing out (this is not a sentence I thought I would ever type). I could feel years of tension melting away as the barber wrapped a hot towel around my face, took it off, and rubbed a cool shaving cream all over my furry chin. This must be the pleasure that women feel when they get a nice hot wax.*
*Update: I’m told that female hair removal is not as pleasant.
The idea of the barber holding the straight razor against my neck, having the power over my life, made my heart race, but eventually, I let the fear go, feeling a sense of peace overcome me after I finally trusted freely.
Mike did offer up a “facial massage machine,” for extra, but I thought that sounded a little sci-fi for my tastes. I’m just not comfortable with robots touching my face for some reason.
About the only thing I did wonder was how much everything would cost. I didn’t ask at the beginning.
I was shocked when the barber said $24 bucks. $24, for all that? Suddenly, Astor Place seemed expensive. Indeed, a regular cut was only $14 dollars here.
I was left with a good haircut and a chin as smooth as the day I was born, both things the girlfriend appreciated.
I think I found a new barber.