The old reliable safety razor (source: Wikimedia Commons)
It took a while to come up with the word I would use today. I had thought of “radar” and “rubber” and a few others, and Mary said “What about razor?” And I remembered, I had written a post about getting a close shave back in July of last year. It should be noted that since that time I’ve decided to grow a beard and dispense with taking a sharp object to my face. Anyway, here’s an encore presentation of “In Search of a Close Shave.”
I’ve been shaving since I started high school. I didn’t have much of a beard, but the Jesuits told us all that we had to start shaving because some of us were coming to school with a shadow. There weren’t many choices for shaving at the time; you had the safety razor, the injector razor, the straight razor, and the electric shaver.
Fortunately, we had never gotten around to getting rid of Dad’s shaving stuff after he died, and his razor and half a container of Gillette blue blades were still in the medicine cabinet, along with a can of Noxzema Medicated Comfort Shave (the one advertised by Gunilla Knutson) and an old bottle of English Leather after shave lotion.
Ad for Noxzema featuring Gunilla Knutson
So, that Saturday morning, I went into the bathroom, lathered up my face, and attempted to shave the way the guys in the commercials did.
And cut myself in several places. (At least I’d have no trouble proving to Fr. Mulhern that I had shaved over the weekend.) That’s when I learned what the after shave was for: to stop the bleeding. Stung like hell, but it did the trick.
Mom, of course, was beside herself, and asked her boyfriend at the time to show me how to shave. He and I stood in the bathroom and I showed him what I was doing, and he went out and reported that I was doing just fine. I still cut myself, but I learned that the guy in the commercial was using a razor without a blade, and that’s how he was able to shave the way he did without slicing his face to ribbons.
I shaved with a either a safety razor or an injector razor (it arrived in the mail one day, I tried it, and I liked it) until I started traveling. By that time, the disposable razors had come out, and it was just easier to use a disposable and throw it out at the end of a trip. Plus, I didn’t run the risk of forgetting it or damaging it in my luggage. Not long after moving to Atlanta, my trusty safety razor fell apart, and by that time razors and blades were as rare as hen’s teeth, so I said, “the hell with it,” and just started using the disposables every day.
They must be making them much cheaper these days, because for the first few months of this year I had been trying to get a decent shave with a disposable, and I’d end up just as hairy after I shave as I was before it. The disposables are so dull you couldn’t cut a fart with them. (I just had to use that joke.) Evidently this is a problem for a lot of guys, because I’ve started seeing the safety razors pop up in ads for Barbasol shave cream. I don’t know if it’s a nostalgia thing or just guys being frustrated with the whole shaving experience, but the safety razor is making a comeback. This is a commercial for one such razor that I’ve started seeing, featuring Rick Harrison from the TV show Pawn Stars:
A couple of months ago, I told Mary that I was going to order myself a razor and some blades. When the razor came, I shaved with it for the first time, and it was a bit of a bloodbath. I have had to make adjustments to the pressure that I use from the disposable, where I had to press hard to get it to cut anything, to the new razor, where I barely have to press to get it to remove the hair from my face. I also purchased a styptic pencil and a bottle of Aqua Velva, my favorite after shave from the old days. It soothes a raw face after a good shave, and Mary likes the scent.
I’m happy. Now, if I could only find menthol shave cream…
How do you (or the man in your life, if there is one) shave?