Excerpts from “A Free Shave,” by Ernest Hemingway, from The Toronto Star Weekly, March 6, 1920:
If you want to save $5.60 a month on shaves and hair cuts go to the barber college, but take your courage with you.
For a visit to the barber college requires the cold, naked valor of the man who walks clear-eyed to death. If you don’t believe it, go to the beginner’s department of the barber’s college and offer yourself for a free shave. I did….
…Just then I noticed that my barber had his left hand bandaged.
“How did you do that?” I asked.
“Darn near sliced my thumb off with the razor this morning,” he replied amiably.
The shave wasn’t so bad. Scientists say that hanging is really a very pleasant death. The pressure of the rope on the nerves and arteries of the neck produces a sort of anesthesia. It is waiting to be hanged that bothers a man…
…Free barbering is not the only free service to be obtained in Toronto…
…If you wish to secure free board, free room, and free medical attention, there is one infallible way of obtaining it. Walk up to the biggest policeman you can find and hit him in the face.
The length of your period of free board and room will depend on how Colonel [George Taylor] Denison [police magistrate] is feeling. And the amount of your free medical attention will depend on the size of the policeman.