One day out of the blue, I suddenly wanted to shave using a straight blade rather than a safety razor I don’t know why, really, I cannot trace it completely in my head, I know I was tired of scraping a two, then later a three and now a five bladed disposable across my skin and, despite all of those blades, still left enough stubble to suggest that my shaving skills were no better than or less bloody than Jack the Ripper’s
Shaving for me was something I had a little choice in, I had to do it. That might sound strange in this time of lax personal grooming, where you now can go to a restaurant and be waited on by some lanky pimpled faced kid who has anything from colored spiked hair to a goatee that drags across your plate of food as he places it down in front of you.( I refuse to dwell the grooming habits of what is preparing my meal out of sight in the kitchen. I just pray that it is at least at the level of chimpanzees in the wild.) When I started out, working, first in Fast Food then later in Hotel Kitchens, we were told flatly to shave or look for work elsewhere. Later on, when I decided that my life needed a decidedly more spiritual direction, It was impressed on me that first impressions were the ones that mattered and I could not expect to be taken seriously until I maintained a clean shaven appearance. That is not to say I was not dragged kicking and screaming by both my occupation and my avocation. No, I rebeled long and hard. growing mutton chop sideburns that I kept trimmed below my ears. and kept them for years well into my twenties. just enough soft shell disobedience that went up to the line and glared over it, ready to cross it at the slightest hint of disapproval.
As we mature, most of us find that the energy expended to defend and heat all of our Castles of principles, far exceeds their real world value. So, one day while shaving, I cut off the sideburns of my discontent and watched them as they circled the bathroom drain. if I had any illusions that my act was ignoble, they were dashed later that day when I found myself in a group of acquittance’s and none of them even noticed that I had removed them from my face. So much for a principle. So now I find myself at the opposing side, where while my greying hair will elicit comments about dye or not to dye, (for now, I have chosen to embrace realism rather than some “impressionistic” illusion) I have this impulse to shave as close as I can short of removing layers of skin.
That brings me back to the straight razor. I have to admit that using a razor without any of the so-called protections that come with the common blades you find today, removes any cushion for error, and external bleeding, for some reason that adds to the allure. However I’m not stupid. in an effort to keep the blood loss low, I went right to the Internet to get some idea of what to expect. All the while I’m reconstructing why this has taken over my “to do list” Why did it elbow out other concerns and become the “Raison de facto” of the moment?
Maybe I’m making too much of this, can it really be as simple as wanting a cleaner shave? If I was a younger man, I would stop at that reason and move on. It just that the suddenness and It’s demand of immediacy, not unlike the cowcatcher of a runaway locomotive that barrels down the track pushing anything out of the way. I had no time to move. The pack of unused five blade cartridges suddenly became untouchable to me. I brought the new blades before my next shave was due. I’m now three shaves in, and frankly, it is better. however, closeness has it price, not just in blood but in time in front of the mirror. Still, as I get better at this, I have found that I cut myself less which each shave. Maybe it is, after all, it’s simplicity, it’s baseness, and forgive me ladies, it’s manliness, the need for 100 percent attention to the task at hand and the feeling that shaving should be nothing more than raking one very sharp blade across your face and living with the result.
That reason will suffice for now, if it changes, I will let you know