A Man’s Guide to Pampering

Guys deserve it, too, even if they hesitate to call it that.

As the new year began, I found myself a mess. My face hairs had gone months without attention and were growing every which way. My head hairs, which I normally use an electric shaver to crop close to my scalp every two weeks or so, had similarly sprouted to an unacceptable length. Off with it all! (Except the eyebrows.) 

To lose the beard, I went to The Boardroom, a wood-paneled man’s retreat with a pool table in the main room and complimentary beer at the front desk. I opted for Shiner (the selection could run wider) and met a dreadlocked barber named Ivy who was easy to talk to. Ivy used an electric razor to shave my beard down to a goatee. The goatee he shaved into a handlebar mustache. We shared a laugh at each step. Then it was off to a private room, where I sat nearly supine in a chair while Ivy went to work. The straight-razor shave ($55) took the better part of an hour and included three separate passes with the blade (two with the grain, one against) and too many hot and cold towel compresses to count. Ivy did fine work, shearing those tough whiskers under the nose with nary a nick. Before I left, I got a manicure ($30) from a young lady, which included a relaxing hand and forearm massage.

The following day, I made my way to the Frisco outpost of The Gent’s Place for what is billed as “the most comfortable head shave in the world” ($50). There, I was handed a gratis Maker’s Mark on the rocks, which neatly sums up the difference between these two men’s salons. I opted for a pre-shave pedicure ($65). It took place in a private room, where I sat on a “custom foot repair throne” as I alternately watched TV and chatted up a bubbly lady named Jay, who, it turned out, had been a grade-school student of my mother’s. Jay handed me off to Richard, a charmingly cantankerous barber. As Richard went to work on my head, I asked how long he’d been doing this. “Three years,” he answered. “Oh, what did you do before this?” I asked. “Tell lies,” Richard said. In truth, Richard has been wielding a straight razor for 54 years. As I worked my way through my second Maker’s, Richard made with the series of hot towels and the various lotions and unguents. We talked about golf and his third and current wife, whom he met when he was 10. When I left, my head was as smooth as my bottom, and I couldn’t keep my hands off of it.

Both outfits offer yearly membership packages at various price points so that a fellow can stop in regularly and have himself tidied up and fawned over. At The Gent’s Place, I met such a client, a man named John, who owns a firm that provides security services to the federal government. I envy John. While I make my living at a keyboard, he oversees a fleet of gunboats. Plus he has more hair than I do.