They cut hair, and groom men.
I assume the grooming bit involves fancy shaving techniques and other things that I can’t quite visualise, and that’s fine by me. I don’t need the detail.
I’m not a grooming expert, but I’ve learnt that male grooming differs from dog grooming in that the male is encouraged not to lie on their back and kick their leg with pleasure in time with the hairbrush.
I learnt this by peering through the window and observing ‘The Man Cave.’ It’s possible there is a private room out back where the leg-kicking is encouraged, but I can live without seeing those four walls.
I’m pretty sure both varieties – the grooming of both male and dog – include a flea treatment as standard.
Just to be clear, I’m not against men wanting to look good. I can understand the appeal of a fancy haircut, though I’ve never had the urge to let another man shave me. I’m quite British in that way. And also nervous of sharp blades, against my neck, in the hands of other men.
I’ve always been clear on my personal man/knife/neck policy.
Also, at the age of forty, I mastered shaving over twenty years ago. I’ve really got the hang of it, and save myself a fortune by being able to do this myself every morning.
I’m very lucky – a quick learner, I guess.
For everyone else, there’s ‘The Man Cave.’
The bit that I have a problem with – and as I said, I’m not against men wanting to look good – is the men in ‘The Man Cave’ embodying a cliché so fully, and with such gusto, as to be almost parody.
If there were an internationally accepted standard for the classification of the young western male in 2017, the staff at ‘The Man Cave’ have every box ticked, including the optional extras.
They wear jeans so skinny as to need a dernier rating, and pad around in camp trainers and no socks. They have haircuts and vicious side-partings, they have tattoos, they have beards, of course, and they vape on their lunch break.
The parody continues with the actual things inside ‘The Man Cave’.
There’s a pool table, lager on tap, shelves of ‘product’ with ironic ‘man’ names, and a massive telly showing re-runs of Clarkson-era Top Gear. There’s also, despite the shiny chrome and gadget heavy environment, a sense that the whole place needs a bit of a clean.
What are we like?
I’ve deduced all this from peering through the window, having never actually entered ‘The Man Cave’. Not because I’m not enough of a man, but because the manliness is so contrived and self-referential that I fear my masculinity would collapse in on itself.
To the sound of hair clippers, and against the backdrop of a Clarkson commentary.
Let my guard down for a second and I could find myself necking a pint of Stella, on the receiving end of a Turkish shave, and leaving with a rosette pinned to my chest having been pampered like a Best of Breed contender on the eve of Crufts.
And the fact is, even at my age, my refusal to have a tattoo is bordering on a revolutionary act. I fully expect that my name appears on a government list somewhere along with other subversive counter-cultural types.
One look at me on entering ‘The Man Cave’ with my socks, my un-quaffed and product-free hair, and my ink-less arms, and they’d send me packing and report me to the authorities.