- David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- I'm sitting in a leather chair, a cold beer in one hand and a manicurist on the other. A woman named Mint -- no, this is not a stage name -- is fluffing my hair with products she insists will make these thinning dirty blond locks look thicker.
Yes, products, a word I never use with lawn care much less in relation to my personal care.
Did I mention there also was a scalp massage, a facial with a hot towel and a shoe shine? And if there had been time there could have been a massage, a game of pool and a trip to the cigar room.
No, I am not a metrosexual as my boss now insists.
I am not trying to be Jeff Gordon, either.
OK, I'm sure this is how Gordon lives in New York City -- although he denies it. But he does have great hair -- dang, did I really say that? -- and the term metrosexual has been used to describe him a time or two.
But this is an assignment, a chance to give the 75 million fans NASCAR claims to have an inside look at all the options in New York City during banquet week.
So here I am in John Allan's Razor Club, a far cry from the Great Clips in Charlotte where I don't buy products and all you get is a shampoo and haircut. It's a men's salon, although the owner calls it a club because most guys don't like saying they go to a salon.
At least this non-metrosexual doesn't.
I was a bit wary of the experience initially, particularly when I noticed the first step is having a male employee tie the belt of a black robe around your waist. Unless there's a female involved, I prefer to tie my own belts.
But when in Rome well, you know.
Before the shampoo I am offered a choice of beverages, alcoholic and non. If you're a member, which you can become for $720 a year, they will store your personal liquor bottle at the bar so you're never without during a visit.
I figured the beer might take the edge off of any anxiety that remained when Julia began massaging my scalp. After a year of listening to loud engines and working in a garage, you tend to be edgy anyway.
Five minutes into the experience, I began wishing Charlotte was large enough -- and diverse enough -- to fit the demographics that have taken John Allan's vision to major markets around the world.
If you're going to get a haircut, why shouldn't it be at a place where local artists are featured on the walls and you can play a game of 8 ball while you wait?
I quickly was reminded of why Charlotte wasn't ready for this when I met Mint.
While Mint looks sophisticated and is all about the New York club scene, there was something very familiar about her. She sounded more like Elliott Sadler than Paris Hilton, and for good reason.
My stylist was from Raleigh, N.C.
She quickly recognized my Southern accent as well, calling me "homeboy" before her scissors made one trip around my head. This turned into almost a Mayberry reunion. She quoted Ricky Bobby from "Talladega Nights" like she wrote the script.
"If you're not first, you're last," she said repeatedly.
She almost moaned at the thought of Bojangles biscuits and seasoned fries, something she apparently can't get in this city that has everything.
"Oooh!" Mint said. "I like them with extra seasoning."
"Don't we all?" I replied.
Mint was so entertaining, as was everybody, that the fact that this was the first manicure of my 48 years went completely unnoticed. My cuticles do look nice, in case you're wondering.
Geez, what has happened to me?
Maybe I am a metrosexual. I did like the pampering. I did let Mint take my hair places it's never been before. She even convinced me to use a product called "Gelle X," which made my hair look thicker without that greasy, oily look.
I let the male employee untie my robe at the end of the experience as well.
Enough of such craziness. I cover NASCAR, where we go to places such as Bristol, Martinsville and Dover, places where pampering is a trip to the local barbecue joint or an afternoon in the inflatable pool-turned-spa if it's hot enough.
Then again, why not dare to dream. Bruton Smith did put a small massage spa in the infield at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
And if Mint can come to the big city, then maybe the big city could come to North Carolina.
I definitely could get used to this.
But I did not go to Barneys or Saks afterwards to shop for a man purse. OK, I went, only because the stores carry John Allan's products, which soon will include a roadster razor that is pretty cool. And I did glance at a man purse or two.
But I only looked.
Then it was back to the real world -- a party at Tiffany.
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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