Monday, September 15, 2003

masquerade

Part of my weekly maintenance involves going to the barber’s for my usual shave or haircut. I have “my” barber, Raul, who is devoted to navigating the peculiar twists and turns of my facial hair. At the end of the process, I get a little massage to soothe the shoulder muscles.

Sounds just right, right?

But my barbershop is actually a salon in disguise, and all the manly men have taken to services once reserved for women like ducks to water.

In the barbershop where every single barber is straight (in contrast to the reverse in salons), we are offered manicures, pedicures, hot oil, eyebrow rethreading, foot spa, honey facials, whitehead removal, pore cleansing, a variety of massages and more.

Added to the roster of the macho Brut aftershaves are brands like L’Oreal, Body Shoppe, and other similar names. We have stuff for our face, our neck, our hair, our eyes, our ears, our nose, our hands, our feet and the rest of our body.

So “going to the barber’s” can no longer be interpreted as a quickie thing.

Once a month, for example, I get the royal treatment, and allow myself to breathe, in the company of men young and old who, like me, have wives and daughters waiting patiently on the sofa in the lobby – while our nails are buffed, our beards shorn and our pores rejuvenated.

Some of the women even prefer our barbershop. It’s no-nonsense, service-oriented, clean and bright.

When did this change happen? When did vanity become justified?

I really don’t know. But sometime in the recent past, the Filipino men got used to things like buying mineral water in bottles, drinking expensive coffee blends, going to the spa, and expecting more from their father’s barber.


more reading

I’m delighted that Cyan Abad-Jugo sent me a copy of Behind The Old Aparador, the story that won her her second Palanca Award this year. That, and some lovely pictures of us at the awards (made lovely because of Nikki, of course).

Hai’s winning stories were also great reads. I especially liked this year’s winning piece, The Greediest of Sultans and the Whitest of Clouds.

One of the great things about being directly in touch with writers is being able to read their work, before publication or whatever.

It is one of the best ways to learn skill, technique and feel the Zeitgeist pulse of things.

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