Men used to go in for ten minutes and were done and out. Not anymore. And its not what you are thinking. I am talking about a salon.
Something fundamentally changed about the salon. It’s no longer a place with mirrors, a shaving machine and an arsenal or Man U supporter grooming a bearded man. The salon has evolved into something more- akin to a hospital or church.
The salon was an innocent place, where one man, in pursuit of money, attends to another in an interaction that lasts no more than 15 minutes. It was simply a haircut. This went on for years until the arrival of the facial massage.
If you have never been to the modern men’s salon, I want to try to paint for you a picture of what it feels inside there.
Long long ago, When Ribena and Quencher still ruled, some Arsenal or Man U ardent fan grabbed our sand filled head and groomed our head in ways that mimic those black American celebrities whose photos were beautifully displayed on the wall.
Within 10 minutes, 15 at max, the whole hair cutting business was done. Today, it’s a long story- the minimum hair cut takes one hour. Ask me where the extra 50 minutes came from.
The salon operators learnt that in the absence of a woman, the man remains beastly and rough…and never parts with his money.
Borrowing from the book of the biblical Eve, they introduced the masseuse- those women with tender hands, and just like that, the man- and his money, were finished, completely. Today we pay a leg and an arm in the salon.
Let me tell you how they conquered the man. In many unprofessional salons (and they are many), after you have had your haircut, you are gently chauffeured into the mighty and electric hands of a masseuse. This is a usually a beautiful girl carefully chosen from a pool of other beautiful girls.
These girls have learnt from the best. First, they will gently pass their hands around your forehead, eye area, your cheeks…and rhythmically rotate their fingers around your eye socket- sending you into another dimension.
Wherever your mind was, whatever problem you had, you are made to forget those…with just that first touch. Remember this is just to clean and wipe off the remains of the hair that the blower never got off your head. But you are already in the fold. You are conquered.
Now, fully conquered and centered, they get some chemical (I don’t know its name but it’s a facial scrub)…its rough…they apply it- hard, on your body. They roughly scrub your face until that whitish chemical mops your face of all pimples and ‘stones’ that have gathered over the last week. You feel smooth and leveled.
All your stress, anger (even your debts) and whatever …is collected by that chemical and you start the journey to recovery.
After they are done with the scrub, they take you to a sink and wash your head. To ensure you feel the contrast, they apply a rough brush in your head, sending a trunch of pain into your scalp.
Then, they contrast that with a gentle soft touch that makes you feel the way we used to feel when our mother gave us a bath at the age of four. You feel the water running through your hair, and the hands moving with it. You feel like a baby- being given a hair wash.
Once the head has been cleaned with warm water and shampoo, they then deliver you to another seat where you get the thorough treatment.
At that point, if the lady working on you is unprofessional (which , I need to emphasise, many men have no problem with), she will gently move your head and rest it at the section between her boobs. I swear!
You feel your head rested on a soft twin pallet of soft body tissue- her breasts. Some men are uncomfortable with this and they make it clear that this shouldn’t be done- but these are the minority. Majority have no problem-in fact they love it.
Once your head is seated on her breasts, you are asked to close your eyes so that they apply the massage oil. By the time they apply the oil, you have already been mixed- you are literally, a baby. You are in the hands of Eve.
With sizzling fingers they start the facial massage. The man’s chest is also part of his face. So they also massage the breast area of the man…and if you are the type that doesn’t show reservation, the hands of the masseuse will even reach your stomach…and even further. Ehm. Ayiii
For up to an hour, the lady works on you…applying pressure in rhythmical fashion, driving blood to areas unreached. For the next one hour, you are taken on a journey- a journey into oneself. A journey where you are driven, simply feeling- but not seeing.
Some points of the body are hurtful…some drive you into transcendence- you feel as though you are out of your body. You feel a connection to parts of yourself you have never connected with- strangely, in the hands of a stranger.
As she applies pressure to the different points of thee head and face and in some cases your chest (if you don’t rule that out), you feel as though she was picking pieces of your emotions and thoughts and putting them in one place.
In some salons, they put soothing music that brings such warmth and relaxes your body- making you feel safe and loved- in the hands of a stranger. You feel broken and put back together.
If you entered a salon and found a man at this stage of the massage, you would think they have been sleeping for a week. People are totally conquered and absorbed.
People have opened up and released themselves. They are in the hands of a stranger- feeling totally relaxed and loved. Salons have become like meditation rooms, churches and hospitals.
The men no longer go there for just a haircut. The massage has become the defining feature of a salon experience. Some men ask the masseuse to work on them for ‘at least one and a half hours’. And they pay extra for that experience.
In Kampala men’s salon, if you are not very careful, someone’s hands may reach gazetted areas. I did not know that my face extends up to my chest. In Kampala it does! Kampala olemwa. You see things no osilika. Era nsirise.
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