Adventures of an Exceptional Man: The Act of Shaving

I am an exceptional man. These are my adventures . . .

I have always been fascinated with shaving. As a boy growing up in a household with a mother, three sisters and a father who was rarely home, shaving was one of the things that gave me a chance to have my “own thing.” Lathering up with a can of aerosol shaving cream and a disposable Bic razor set me apart, made me feel exceptional, if you will allow me the conceit. (I’m sure you will.) Regardless of the fact my sisters would steal my razors to shave their legs, shaving was my thing, and the fact that the blades — dulled by my sisters’ Brillo-like leg hairs — cut the fuck out of my face just made me feel manlier!! Nothing says manlier then a face covered in bits of toilet paper with a drop of blood at the center, right? Damn right.

As I grew older, I still got pleasure from a good shave, in fact most of my career choices required that I be clean shaven. As a soldier I would sometime have to shave twice a day to keep my squad leader from ripping me a new one! At various times I tried using an electric razor but I was never able to get that really close shave that I could get from using a blade. As time went on I religiously upgraded to various Gillette products. You know, where the handle and a blade cartridge are a dollar and the separate four replacement blades are six hundred dollars a pack. Buying replacement blades became so expensive I found it more economical to buy the handles with the one included blade because it was cheaper than buying replacement blades.

One day, not too long ago my long suffering wife (from here on out I will just refer to her as my wife, it will be assumed that she is suffering) found my cabinet of handles. She did so while trying to find room for her million bottles of beauty products that she managed to acquire over the years. For some reason, she got really pissed at me because I was taking up valuable space in my under sink cabinet that she could be using to store her sundries. She suggested that maybe I was deranged and needed to get some help. Either that or bite the bullet throw out the handles and start buying the replacement cartridges.  Since at some point I would like to afford to retire – and I enjoy being married — I decided to look for some other options and it was by a happy chance, and Google, that I discovered an upscale shaving website.

For an exceptional man, the site was shaving porn, not only can you buy a real beaver (immature giggle) shaving brush but they had products that a man can use with no shame. That’s not baby oil, it is pre-shave oil. Don’t you dare call that moisturizer it is aftershave balm. But the joy I felt when I saw their straight razor selection knew no bounds. A straight razor is the ultimate manly man implement. Not only can you shave with it but it’s also is a deadly weapon. (As a digression . . . you will find that I digress a lot, and spoil movie endings in italics, so don’t say I didn’t warn you… I’m trying to figure out why Brian De Palma chose a straight razor as Michael Caine’s weapon of choice in the early 80’s classic “Dressed to Kill.” Was it because Michael’s character was so conflicted about his feelings of gender confusion? “I’m dressed as a really ugly women but I’m using this deadly manly-man weapon of shaving to attack the sexy Angie Dickson and the adorable Nancy Allen because they turned me on sort-of-thing or was it I’m a psychiatrist and I like to have my straight razor here so I can shave before my sexy patients come on to me? “ I don’t know, but the movie had some really good nude scenes and seeing Michael Caine in drag is fun and the movie had some really good nude scenes.)

Now you are probably thinking that I threw all caution to the wind and immediately bought a steel-handled straight razor forged by Thiers-Issard from France. You would be wrong, I immediately went to their nearest shop, got a shave and then had the helpful sales person show me how to shave with one and strop it. It was only then that I had him convince me to buy the steel-handled straight razor forged by Thiers-Issard from France, a strop, a real beaver (immature giggle) shaving brush, lavender-scented shaving cream, pre-shave oil and moisturizer, sorry, I mean after shave balm. To show you that I was not completely oblivious to scraping a wickedly sharp deadly instruments across my face I also bought an alum block, which according to the sales person was perfect for stopping bleeding from small nicks and scratches that inevitably happen when you are scraping a wickedly sharp deadly instrument across your face! All this, for the price of six hundred dollars – which is like three replacement blade cartridge four packs.

I even managed to convince myself that my wife would be proud and grateful to me because no longer would I have a cabinet filled with shaving handles. I could even turn over some of our precious bathroom cabinet space to her so she could even have more room to store her moisturizers and other assorted goodies. In addition with the money I saved in shaving replacement blade cartridges, future social security checks, our daughters getting full academic or sports scholarships to college and selling a kidney we would be able to retire at some point in our 80s. With a happy glow because of the feeling of being such a selfless and loving husband I paid for my purchases with two separate credit cards (it is easier to hide major purchase from your wife if you use two separate cards, my wife rarely cross references them) I left the store and hurried home.

As you have probably gathered by now I am cautious by nature so I did not immediately take out my steel-handled straight razor forged by Thiers-Issard from France and shave. I had just had a professional shave so I would be good for at least a day. Instead I went to the garage, got one of my favorite tools (soon to be a subject of another column), and installed a hook next to my bathroom sink. From the hook I hung my strop. I then found a very large garbage bag and threw out all my handles. I placed my real beaver (immature giggle) shaving brush next to my bathroom sink. I also couldn’t resist showing off my brand new steel-handled straight razor forged by Thiers-Issard from France to my wife. With her ringing endorsement still echoing in my ears (“No, I haven’t seen Dressed to Kill.” Followed by, “Stop swinging that thing around like a fucking sword you nut, If you come near me with that I will shove it up your ass, you are going to cut your throat if you try and shave with that and keep that as high on the medicine cabinet shelf as you can before the girls find it and hurt themselves and if you think we can afford to retire in our 80s you are seriously deluded”) I waited for my facial hair to grow.

After two days I was ready, I had just the right amount of facial hair to test out my steel-handled straight razor forged by Thiers-Issard from France. I followed the helpful sales person’s instructions to the letter. I took the strop, placed the blade on it at and began moving it along the leather. Contrary to popular belief the strop does not sharpen the blade, instead it brings the cutting edge in to straight alignment so there are no bumps or folds in the cutting edge which can cause cuts. After two strokes of the blade on the strop I started to get cocky and did something I had seen done a hundred times in the movies. You know, where the barber takes the razor and strops the blade vigorously back and forth across the leather, usually with a cheerful song issuing from his lips. After the first vigorous strop the only thing that escaped my lips was a loud curse. Apparently the blade of my brand new steel-handled straight razor forged by Thiers-Issard from France was sharp enough to shave off long slivers of leather. I continued stropping but with a disquieting thought growing in my brain, if this blade can cut dried leather like a hot knife through butter, what would it do to my far from silky soft skin (but still silkier then leather)?

Putting aside disquieting thoughts is a particular skill of the exceptional men, no pain no gain right? Damn right. So I finished stropping, placed the blade down on the counter and stepped in the extremely hot shower. The hot shower softens the hair on the face and opens the pores allowing for a closer shave. After washing, rinsing and repeating for a little while I stepped out of the shower patted dry my face and body and began applying the pre-shave lotion to help the blade move across my less than silky smooth skin and steam softened facial hair. Next I put hot water on the real beaver (immature giggle, saying it never gets old) shaving brush and lathering up with a dollop of lavender smelling shaving cream.

After getting all a lather I was ready to shave! I picked up the brand new steel handled straight razor forged by Thiers-Issard from France and held it to the light. I enjoyed the play of light across the blade, the way it reflected, with its deadly glow. It seemed to whisper to me, “Respect me or I’ll cut you like a piece of cheese.” (It was at this point I realized why Brian De Palma used a straight razor, nothing to do with gender issues or getting a quick shave before come-ons, simply put, nothing looks as deadly as a straight razor held aloft with light reflecting off it.)

Using my skill to put aside disquieting thoughts I held the blade against my skin at a 45 degree angle, going with the grain of my steam softened facial hair. To say I used a delicate stroke would be an understatement. I can say with absolute certainty that no stroke was lighter than mine as I guided the blade around my right cheek. Taking extra care around my jaw, I wiped the blade on a towel, took a deep breath, steeled my heart and placed the blade on my neck. Using a touch that would do a butterfly proud I moved the blade down my neck with no mishaps.

After finishing the right side of my face I wiped the blade and took a moment to admire my skill. The closeness of the shave was remarkable. Brand new steel-handled straight razor forged by Thiers-Issard from France where had you been all my shaving life? The money I could have saved, the close shaves that I could have had, this feeling of literally balancing on a razors edge that was turning rapidly in to a feeling of triumph that was going in my soul?

I picked up the razor and looked at the light playing on the blade, and this time it still looked deadly, but now it also had a feeling of submission. It was saying or so it seemed to me, you have respected me, I’ll never cut you like a piece of cheese. A exceptional man feeling of fucking the fates of the shave was building in my soul. I picked up the blade and put it against the left side of my face and began to shave. It was at this time that I realized the brand new steel-handled straight razor forged by Thiers-Issard from France was a lying sack of shit, as it effortlessly cut a one-inch gouge in my cheek.

I had the alum block ready but when I saw the bright red of the blood intertwined with the white lather on my cheek I went for something more appropriate: a bath towel. I did not bleed as much as the sexy Angie Dickerson did in the elevator after ugly cross dressing Michael Caine attacked her. But it was close. My doctor said I was actually lucky that the blade was so sharp. If it had been dull it might have torn the skin leaving a ragged scar. As it was I did not require stiches but I will have a reminder of the Brand new steel handled straight razor forged by Thiers-Issard from France on my cheek for a while. I just tell people it a war wound. The upside was my wife didn’t tell me I told you so, when my cheek healed enough so that I could shave she bought me replacement blades for my Gillette razor. Enough replacement blades that I am sure retirement will be out of the question. The replacement blades take up almost no room in my cabinet which is good since I no longer have room under my bathroom cabinet to store the handles. Once my wife took it over for her products there just wasn’t enough room to put anything in there.

The strop still hangs next to my sink, as a reminder of what can happen when manly men emotions get the better of common sense. I put away my brand new steel-handled straight razor forged by Thiers-Issard from France on the top shelf of my medicine cabinet. It will be there for a while until I screw up the courage to use it again. But again that is the essence of being an exceptional man, once the pain is gone, the scars fade and the fear is a distant memory we are just as likely to do the same stupid shit again. It is our right. We are exceptional. Right? Damn right.

Until next time . . .


Photo Courtesy of  villorejo/