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Not so happy endings at barbershops

Gone are the days when men had a shave under a tree. Now a visit to the barber comes with extra services, including facial scrub and massage. And wives can’t hold their peace

Sandra Wekesa @AndayiSandra

At a glance, Mike Orina has a clean shave—in fact, you can’t tell why he insists on visiting a barbershop. Well, he walks in to this posh barbershop. A female barber ushers him to a comfortable reclining chair. She gives him a beard shave before giving him a head and shoulder massage.

It is his weekly routine. To him, a visit to the barber is not just about getting a shave. “In as much as I can get a cheaper place to get my haircut at just Sh70, I prefer coming here, though at the end of it, I end up parting with Sh500. I love how the women handle men and how they pamper us with their soft hands,” he says.

Then vs now

Back in the day, a man would go to the local barber, who would often be found under a tree. Using an old manual clipper, or the good old pair of scissors, he would get on the job. The client would check on the progress by looking in a mirror hang on the tree, which more often than not would give the wrong perspective owing to the vertical crack that divided it into two halves. The entire job, lasting 10 minutes – would cost no more than Sh20.

From under a tree, the barbers moved to vibandas. And they graduated from using scissors to electric shavers. After the shave, a barber would wipe the head with a warm face towel and then apply disinfectant. Good progress, you may say.

That was then. Today, an average urban male needs no less than an hour-and-a-half for his hair beauty regime. First comes a meticulous haircut. Then the ladies of the house take over and wash your head, thereafter applying all manner of disinfectants, oils and facial scrubs.

They then use a head/spider massager that gives men a tingling sensation. A gentle neck and shoulder massage ends the treatment. However, some may graduate to intimate sessions at a separate room.

Lynda Mwikali, a masseuse at a barbershop, confirms men just like it when they get extra services. She knows this too well having been in the field for the last two years. “Before we started offering these services, a barber would attend to even five clients in a day. But when they got me on board, we manage over 30 clients who need to be massaged. It is even crazier during weekends when the barbershop is fully packed,” she explains.

It is these extra services that is driving women mad. Wives, girlfriends and mistresses now fear when their men going to the barber.

Breaking families

“One evening, my husband said he would pass by the barber. After I was done with the day’s work, I decided to wait for him at the barbershop so we could go home together. Shock on me! I found him having a shoulder and neck massage. The lady barber had a large bust and her twins danced on my husband’s back and chest as she went about her work.

My husband sat there, eyes closed, in dreamland, enjoying the services. I shook him to reality when I angrily shouted at him. The lady said there was nothing wrong with what she was doing, that it was a normal thing and I shouldn’t read much from it, ” recalls Mary Wairimu, who says she nowadays accompanies her husband to the barber.

Immaculate Mogeni, a psychologist, says many men love the feeling of being pampered and massaged. “They love it when they can get away from their problems to a place that they are comforted and treated like kings.

That is why most of them would rather not go with their wives to get a hair cut. It gets intense when the women relaxing you are a bevy of beauties who later comfort you and treat you so well that you just want to come back every now and then,” she says.

However, for men who would love to preserve their marriages, she advises them to draw the line. “If you really love your marriage and want to protect it, it’s best to just shield it from all forms of evil. It may mean switching the barber, or just getting your shave and leaving immediately without getting other services,” she says.

“I changed barbers after I wasn’t comfortable with how the women in those shops handled me. In fact, I would advise wives to learn how to shave their men so that they do it at home. These barbershops will be the end of marriages,” says John Otieno.

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