Barrier between the modern world and me: No man in my family has ever dared shave his beard — until now

(Credit: Illustration by George Mager)

I handed the barber a twenty-dollar bill and asked him to trim my beard. I was 26 years old, and the hairs on my chin had never been touched by a blade. The barber, a middle-aged Chinese man with long wavy hair, strong hands and a no-nonsense demeanor, took out a large electric razor and began hacking away as if he was clearing a path through a forest.

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