The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

A Close Shave.

Posted by Exile on June 16, 2007

I use a razor almost every day. Because I have to shave almost every day. I have been doing so more or less since I was sixteen when my father first put the open razor in my hand and said “Now draw it gently down your face and keep your hand steady “. I’ll never forget the feel of that super sharp, newly stropped razor on my skin or the intense fear that came with it.

I bought my first razor the following day. Not an open type but one of those with a screw off top and a blade which had to be inserted, exposing two cutting edges, one on each side of the razor. I used it for years.

Technology improved. Suddenly I found myself using a plastic affair with two parallel blades in a plastic disposable head. Now I didn’t have to change blades every week. I could just clip off the entire head and put a fresh one on without risking to cut my fingers.

That technology was improved again. Now I shave with a razor with three blades in one head. It doesn’t shave me any better than my old razor did but hey, it’s a cool design and my wife borrows it once in a while to get her legs all smooth and shiny. She buys her own blades.

Now the thing is, that one can only take this so far. I mean, we have gone from one blade to three. How much closer to the skin do we have to go? Apparently, a lot closer. The new thing Gillette is peddling has five blades in one head plus a seperate “trimmer blade” on the flip side of the head. Why? What’s the point?  One blade is enough to shave with, so why on earth should any man, even with a beard as tough as mine, need five blades?  Where do we stop this madness?  I can see the day where the new razor will have twenty seven blades in a clip on head that takes two men to lift and requires a resident surgeon to perform the job. Not merely shaving you, it will remove a layer of skin to keep you baby-faced for life. Not so much a razor, more a facial carpenter’s plane. I need shaving. Not being scraped skinless to the bone.

I long for the old days. Once, a long time ago, I returned home from active service to south east England. Having six months wages in my bank account, I was a pretty rich young man. I decided to take some down time before going home to my parents place and shot off to London for a long-needed weekend of relaxing debauchery. Booking into the Hilton, I had a great weekend of booze, good food and nightclubs. Before checking out, I decided to look in on the resident barber. Haircut and a shave please. Hot towels and the open razor treatment. I have never been so well shaved in my life. Watching that barber strop the blade brought back memories of home and my seemingly distant youth. I made a point of going to the barber every weekend for years after.

Shaving has gotten to be a daily chore. It should be a pleasure. The barber shops are gone now. The gentlemen’s salon died a long time ago. Nobody uses open razors any more. Try to buy one. All but impossible. And I wouldn’t trust a woman at the local coiffure to shave me with anything, let alone a four inch long, lethal, piece of surgical steel that is honed to a tee. Even if she could find out how to strop it and had a doctor’s certificate saying she wasn’t suffering from PMS, particularly on the day that I was there.

Damn. I miss the barber shop.

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