The Star Late Edition - - METRO - JAPHET NCUBE japhet.ncube@inl.co.za

TWO weeks ago, I did some­thing I haven’t done be­fore: I went for my first ever male groom­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

I don’t drink much, so I am not sure about cham­pagne so early in the morn­ing, but it was the best love I have given my­self in decades.

The gen­tle­men’s groom­ing ex­pe­ri­ence at Sor­bet Man Cresta changed how I felt about men and groom­ing. What made it even more un­for­get­table is that I won a ham­per, which comes in handy in these times of a re­ces­sion.

It has been two weeks since I broke my male groom­ing vir­gin­ity, and I wish I had known what I know now about taking care of my­self when I was a teenager. My skin would be much health­ier.

Please don’t tell my cousins down in KwaMh­lab’uyalin­gana and Mpophoma, they will think I am com­ing out of the closet. Why else would a man be spend­ing hours – and hun­dreds of rand – in a salon? They would ask, dis­gusted: “Abafazi ben­zeni bona?” (what then should the women do?)

This is usu­ally fol­lowed by the speaker spit­ting on the dry earth to show their dis­ap­proval.

For many African men of my gen­er­a­tion, es­pe­cially us Ngu­nis, male groom­ing is a swear word. They will tell you that a man must not look beau­ti­ful. He should be “manly”.

I know some chaps who don’t use roll-on or per­fume at all. That’s for women and gay men, they will say. A man must smell of sweat and must not shave his armpits and the re­gion to the south.

Grow­ing up, male groom­ing wasn’t an op­tion. You all used a slab of Sun­light soap to wash clothes and to bath, us­ing a rough orange sack to reach all the dirty ar­eas.

No mat­ter your skin type, you used the same soap and same body lo­tion. Vase­line Blue Seal was the ob­vi­ous choice. When your hair had over­grown and you looked like Khaphela from Gen­er­a­tions, you walked to Njab­ulo, who ran a side­walk “salon” and got your box cut and your beard shaved off. He ap­plied methy­lated spirit as af­ter­shave and off you went.

I have dry lips and dry skin. Thanks to the ham­per I won, I now have suit­able hand and nail lo­tion. They are go­ing to breathe for a while.

I shud­der to think how much it will cost me to re­place when the free­bie runs out, but there is go­ing to be a few drinks sac­ri­ficed.

But male groom­ing is more than just shav­ing and hair­cuts. I now know about treat­ments such as Manli-Cure, Pedi­cure and MediPedi. These are hands and feet treat­ments that cost be­tween R130 and R435.

It’s a lot of money, yes, but let’s talk when you have tried them out and you have sobered up from wast­ing hun­dreds of rand on a week­end of end­less booz­ing. It will make sense.

I haven’t done the man­scap­ing (waxes) yet, but I am go­ing in soon for a der­ma­log­ica fa­cial. Don’t worry about the big English, these are just fa­cial treat­ments to deal with skin prob­lems while one re­laxes. I will also go for a bat­tery booster mas­sage.

I have come to know that you can spend less on look­ing af­ter your skin than you spend on booze and mean­ing­less dates.

I never knew there was some­thing called a healthy beard. Un­til my first ex­pe­ri­ence at Sor­bet Man Cresta, I sim­ply just asked my bar­ber Wale to trim and shape it. No oils were used and I didn’t worry about treat­ment.

On Mon­day, I went back to use a voucher I won dur­ing the groom­ing break­fast two weeks ago.

A hair­cut and shave sets you back R200, but you get royal treat­ment. I was shocked when the re­cep­tion­ist of­fered me a choice of sin­gle malt whisky, beer, cap­puc­cino, cof­fee or wa­ter – all com­ple­men­tary.

My cousins in KwaMh­lab’uyalin­gana would have set­tled for a beer and ditched the groom­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The “abafazi ben­zeni bona” men­tal­ity runs skin deep. They are prob­a­bly dis­gusted just read­ing this col­umn. Ba­zoba strong.

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