It is one of man’s great pleasures to get a close shave.
Nowadays we are using electric or the cheap Bic shavers. Only the older ones remember going not only for a shave, but for a social time at the local barber shop where all the world’s problems were solved by the men gathered. Sports arguments could leave a poor guy sitting in his chair, covered in soap, waiting for the barber’s point of argument to be completed; happy memories for the older generation.
I, needing a daily shave, make it a habit visiting a barber shop in any new place I visit in Thailand. My travels took me to Nong Khai, the northern border town on the Mekong River; Laos on the opposite side. I soon found a barber shop with four chairs in the neighborhood of my hotel. I must have been a rare foreigner finding my way into the shop because I received surprised but welcome looks. Soon I was reclining in an old style chair, a large towel covering my shirt to my throat. The middle-aged barber still used the old cut-throat shaver.
He had a weird way of performing his trade. He rubbed a bit of soap all over my facial hair with a brush not holding more than a dozen short bristly hairs. Then the barber went to ply his trade on my face in the most unusual way. He shaved a bit here, a bit there, moved from left to right and back, shaved at the throat, moved to my cheek, on and on and on, a bit here, a bit there until the shave was finally done to his satisfaction. He tested it by rubbing the back of his hand over the shaved areas.
He then continued to shave my forehead, my nose and ears, even underneath my eyes. If I have many shaves this way over the next six months I may end up with hair growing all over my face.
I wasn’t done yet; a warm, moist, jasmine scented towel was placed over my face. Then the barber massaged my arms from shoulder down to my fingers, then my neck and shoulders. He finished by gently wiping my face with the wet jasmine scented cloth.
Finally he removed the towel from around my neck, snapped it with flair, making the sound of a whip, set my chair into the upright position and….smiling at me told me with pride ‘Finished’.
Did I enjoy my shave? You bet I did. The cost was less than the price of a cup of coffee at home. A generous tip made him walk me to the door, giving his thanks repeatedly. This wonderful shaving experience is one I’ll enjoy over and over again.
Have I ever had a bad shave? Yes I did experience one here in the seaside town where I live. I do not choose my barber once I enter a shop; they take their turns. I ended up the victim of a young lady barber. I could see from her heavy breathing through the surgical face mask that she was petrified of having to shave me, the foreigner. It was probably her first time.
I finished the shave to my satisfaction at home in my Condo by the beach.
Have I ever had a bad experience? Yes! Although the prices for various barber service were posted on the wall my barber in Phuket Town not only performed a poor shave but charged me triple the rate with a smile. With a smile on my own I palmed him the correct amount of money and left the shop.
He must have cursed me to his peers because I was not gone far from the shop when I heard the loud laughter.