On Shaving (LIKE A MAN)

There’s some deep part of my psyche/DNA/gooey insides that tells me nothing is more manly than scraping my face with bare, sharpened steel.  Perhaps unfortunately, the rest of me agreed–or was too wussy to fight that other part for fear of getting clobbered.

At any rate, that led to me researching straight razors about a year ago, which then got put off, and has culminated so far in my buying a Dovo shavette, which is basically a plastic handle that houses disposable straight blades.

So far, no portions of my face have gone missing.  But shaving with a straight razor is difficult at first.

It requires learning a new skill.  And using said razor in my left hand. I have to remember that I have roughly 15 years of shaving experience with a normal razor.  Combined with a normal safety razor requiring nothing in the way of skill, it’s no surprise that shaving with a straight razor has required some adjustments.  Much like when I started shaving my head, it’ll take time to become proficient and not feel like I’m liable to lop something off at any given moment.  By now, shaving my head is routine, and so I hope that, with practice, a straight razor will be, too.

Part of the appeal was to try to reduce the amount of waste I’m producing.  I feel guilty every time I toss away a used cartridge and pop in a new one.  Granted, my current razor uses disposable blades, as well (no plastic), but I bought it as sort of a trial run before I spend $200 or more on a more permanent razor.

Another part is to hopefully get a better shave.  Often it looks like I haven’t shaved even when I just finished shaving, and my skin gets too irritated if I try to make multiple passes. So hopefully once my skills are up to speed, the quality of the shave I get will go up as well.

A big reason to switch, too, is purely for the sense of doing something “the old way” and trying something new.  We didn’t always have these cartridges-on-a-stick.  Used to be, men (MANLY MEN?) would strop and hone a metal blade and then rub it on their face.  Or else have a barber do it for them.  Only in recent times have companies tried to sell us better and better solutions for doing the things we’ve always done.

Are safety razors easy?  For sure.  After shaving with a straight razor, I have a whole new appreciation for how easy they make the process.

But easy can be bad.  Easy means I don’t have to pay attention.  I’ve come to resent the act of shaving, which seems a crime.  It’s one of the few ritual acts men have that, to me, carries some sense of history and propriety.  Shaving with a straight razor also requires that I pay attention to what I’m doing. I can’t space out and think about other things, or I’ll cut myself.  And those things are sharp.

There’s another part of me, one that’s zen-like, I suppose, that finds the idea of being present and paying attention to the current moment rather fulfilling.  And I’d rather not hate something I need to do every day.  The manly thing is mostly in jest.  It’s possible that I’ll go back to a safety razor.  We’ll see.  At least I’ll have tried.  If I can turn around how I feel about  shaving by changing the tools I use, so much the better.

In the meantime, my pride leaks out in tiny red rivulets accompanied by stinging and swear words, but perhaps I’ll appreciate the process even more once I get the hang of it.

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