Beards are “in” right now. Mustaches are all over stickers, duct tape, lollipops, the front of cars and most importantly upper lips. Ive seen beard enthusiast facebook groups, facial hair grooming supplies and of course there are the reality shows. Today I want to cross the grain and talk about the antithesis to those macho magnificent man manes, specifically shaving.
You see my father never taught me to shave. I remember being in my early teen years in front of the bathroom mirror with a fresh bic razor procured from the linen closet. Firing half that barbasol can into my hand produced a huge tangible white cloud. The sweet musky smell filled my nostrils as I gently lathed my upper lip. The menthol was tingling on my neck as I slopped the excess shaving creme, giving myself the appearance of a certain red capped, white bearded saint I stopped believing in only a few years earlier. The blade slid across my cheeks for the first time leaving the cold wintery chill of exposed skin. Of course the burning of million tiny cuts filled with aftershave was a definite contrast.
By the time I was sixteen my widows peak had become an eroded beach. By eighteen I decided to shave my head. When some people say they shave their head they use clippers and take the hair very short. This is not my definition. I took a razor to my head. The first time you completely shave down to nothing is akin to doing a polar bear plunge with your scalp. I have always kept an abundance of sideburns on my cheeks as long as I have been able to grow them. I feel a kinship with General Burnsides in this regard. The best aspect of mutten chops is the gratification of having a beard combined with the pleasure of shaving. I know what your thinking. Pleasure of shaving? You must be crazy! Well you must not be learned in the way of straight razor shaving.
I received a straight razor as a gift from my wife. It came with all the trappings of a 18th century man’s bathroom, barber strop, shave cup and soap puck. The problem is that honing a straight razor takes patience, time and skill. All three of which I have none of.
Not to say I don’t know how to sharpen a knife. I was a boyscout and I did have my tote and chip. I’m fairly sure I only had one corner taken off. Sharpning a pen knife and sharpning a three inch razorblade are two slighty different things.
Luckily I found a compromise and it’s called a shavette. This razor is similar to a straight razor but it has a removable blade like those double sided butterfly razors your grandpa used to use. So when it gets dull you just swap it out. All of the majesty of shaving like Sweeny Todd with out all that stropping.
Although I was never formally introduced to shaving by my father he did teach me how to shine my own shoes. I’ve always said a man should know how to shine his shoes or boots. When you finish and look down and see them gleaming in black you can hold you head high knowing you’ve make yourself proud. Shaving with a straight razor be it an heirloom or a shavete gives you the same feeling.
So men and bearded ladies go out and get yourselves a straight razor you’ll thank me for it.