Social Norms

I accepted that I was weird long ago. Accepting and embracing are two separate actions, though, and I'm actively working on embracing it in every possible way. I've always considered myself as one who does his own thing, often at the risk of social acceptance. A good example is taking pictures. I would much rather spend time alone self-reflecting on little nothings that I can keep my eye on than talking about sports or going out getting drinks. It makes me happy, but it doesn't help me become a great conversationalist, and I personally think it makes me a little more difficult to live with.

I've just always preferred drumming to a different beat. 

Thursday night, I had a dream that I actually remembered. The last time I actually remembered a dream was due to the fact that it was such a horribly vivid nightmare, it caused me to wake up screaming, so recalling a peaceful dream is the first in a few years. One of the other students at school, Hayden, is a girl I have never talked to. It's not that I dislike her as a person, I've just simply never run into a situation that would require us to meet. We follow each other on Instagram, and up until today that had literally been the extent of our interactions. Having seen her profile page, though, I knew she has a blog ( that hadn't been updated in a long time.

In this dream that I was able to recall, Hayden and I talked about blogging and how we outline and prepare posts. Weird, right?

So today, I went up and told her about the dream. Now, if I was on the receiving end of this message I would naturally think, "Who the hell is this crazy person, and do I need a restraining order?" But instead, we actually talked about blogging, why we do it, and what we want to get out of it. It helped me realize that I'm not alone in my feeling of being lost in my own thoughts. We also talked about the challenge of putting our thoughts onto paper, regardless of how clear those thoughts are in my mind. Knowing I have been slacking off on updates this month, it got me really motivated to come home tonight and update the barber story. I'm hopeful that  she will use the conversation as encouragement for her to continue updating her blog because I could tell it was something she enjoys as much as I do.

A few months back, I read an article in The New York Times about women who shave on a regular basis. Not because they have an obscene amount of hair on their face, but as a normal part of their beauty regimen. It helps exfoliate their skin, as well as removing vellus hair (peach fuzz or baby hair) to provide a more even surface for makeup application. It's far more common in Hollywood and the fashion industry than what is publically talked about. It made sense to me, but as I shared the article with various people, there were naturally a few lifted eyebrows. It didn't take much to see it from their perspective, though. As a barber, if I were to ask a man if he needed a shave, it's simply viewed as me offering my professional services. But on the other side of the coin, as a man, if I were to ask a woman if she'd like me to shave her face, I'd be fortunate to walk away with my balls intact. It's simply an awkward market to get into. Instead of pursuing it, I told one of the barber stylists that as a woman she could get into a niche market that I would have a difficult time with.

Waxless hair removal w/ facial massage, a.k.a. the hot towel shave for ladies.

By after only a few days of talking about it, I had accepted that this was something I wouldn't be able to do. But I still talked about it. And then the unexpected happened. "I'd totally do that," Julia told me. We both agreed on the fact that it would be just as relaxing for women as it is for men. The service is significantly less irritating/painful than getting your lip waxed or bleached, and if there was no other reason, it would be fun to try and a story to tell. One of the many things that I love about going to a fashion school is just how open a lot of the students are to step out of their comfort zone, all for the simple sake of experience.

So for the past month, we have been playing tag with our schedules trying to make time for it to happen, and we always seem to just miss each other, or a walk-in comes in and we have to change our plans. In the meantime, I was showing the rest of the group how my shave service differs from what the school curriculum teaches. I add a few extra steps for client relaxation and comfort, and I focus more time on the facial massage than just a shave by itself. I feel if I'm charging for a service and my time, I need to be giving at least 110%. One of the other barbers, who happens to be a licensed esthetician outside of going to school volunteered her face for the demonstration. After the service, she gave me one of the most meaningful compliments I have received, because it was on my massage technique. But even more importantly, she told me she couldn't understand why women hadn't been pursuing that service over waxing earlier. This coming from a woman who gives facial massages and waxes as part of her existing career. This was a huge burst of encouragement and a fair amount of reassurance. Even though I may follow the beat of a different drummer, I'm not entirely crazy.

So back to today, we finally found time to make the service happen. I genuinely love shaving, I've said it before and I'll say it again. This is jazz to me. It's knowing that I made someone relax to a level that they do. It's discovering different ways that I can incorporate pressure into my massage. It's the fact that every time I complete a shave, it was better than the last time. Getting to try something new with something I love this much is the art of living. Karlo was nice enough to get a few pictures of me having one of the best times since starting school.

I'm rambling at 1 in the morning, and I've been working on this post for far too many hours. So I guess the point that I'm trying to get at is this.

Stay weird, speak your mind, and never say no. Life is too short, and you can always find more room for fun, so why waste your efforts on falling in line and doing what's expected of you?

Chris BentleyComment