Thoughts on Shaving

23 09 2007

CAVEAT LEXOR: The following is a post detailing certain rituals of the male of the species. It is not, however, a guide to the proper shave – you can get that here (fascinating reading, really). If this strikes you as knowledge you don’t need to know, by all means look for something else to read.

If this seems like an uncharacteristic post for me, well…it is. You see, I’ve just been to the barber and was inspired (yes, inspired) by the suffering imposed on me when he took his razor to my sideburns (it must have been a dull blade. Ouch).

I’ve been shaving for some eight years now…ever since junior ROTC required all male cadets to get rid of the fuzz on their upper lips. I remember the first time I took razor to skin: there was a sense of trepidation, a keen awareness that things were never going to be the same again, although in what way, I wasn’t sure.

I believe I used soap in lieu of shaving cream (which is a luxury over here), applying a generous amount over the said area. I took a deep breath…blinked…and swiped-off the fuzz.

It didn’t feel anything really (I was expecting it to hurt…remembering the scraping sound from countless shaving scenes in the movies and on TV), and I was pleasantly surprised that I actually looked better without the adolescent fuzz. I was hooked (any activity that makes you look good and let’s you know quickly becomes a habit, I tell you).

By the time the fuzz actually became stubble (about a year or so later), I was shaving every other day. Yeah, my whiskers grow fast…not fast enough to get 5 o’clock shadow, but faster than a lot of guys I know (to my consternation and their envy).

After a while, however, I decided I was tired of trying to appear younger than I was (since I like to keep my hair short, I still get mistaken for a student from time to time) and grew a goatee. Not bad, but I eventually decided it wasn’t the look for me. Instead, I eventually opted to just not shave, not care, for about a week (all those covers of GQ looking down on me from the shelves of Booksale certainly had an influence). I liked what I saw.

Sure, a few female friends expressed their distaste. But quite a few also verbalized their approval. But due to my recent run in with an enthusiastic barber, I list here a few reasons why I don’t really like to shave…often…at least the way I do so now.

Number one: Razor Burn. Frankly, we would like to get the closest, smoothest shave possible…so that we won’t have to repeat it again anytime soon. Unfortunately,  there’s a price to pay for a shave like that in this 3rd world country where hot water does not flow from the tap and the price of a can of shaving cream could have fed you for a day: simply put, the skin on our faces doesn’t like having a sharp instrument scraping along its surface, and very often decides to remind us of this fact by 1.5 inch-long swathes of red  where the razor passed over on its mission. At best, it just looks funny. At worst, it really itches, which leads me to my next reason.

Number two: Ingrown hair. More than once I’ve had to endure shaving with a dull blade. No amount of shaving cream can save you from what is essentially a very painful experience (I bet you could use engine lubricant and it would still hurt) – the blades take so long to cut the hairs, they basically pull instead of cut. This leads to an uneven shave which I often would rather endure the sight of rather than try to remedy with the same blade. When I do attempt to remedy it, I cut the hair so short, when it grows, it grows into the skin instead of out. The itching from razor burn is nothing compared to this flavor of irritation. Suffice it to say, it has kept me up at night.

Number three:  I am not  some hairless, provocatively-androgynous cover model for Dolce & Gabbana with legions of adoring females swooning in my wake (I’m really piling-on the sarcasm here).

Instead, I have the blood of Englishmen (and that’s as far back as my research goes), soldiers, chemistry professors, and dentists (I kid you not) coursing in my veins – men who dealt with the earth, cut down trees, helped invading Japanese soldiers die for their country (hehehe), extracted teeth, and handled potentially dangerous chemicals.

Frankly, a proper, enjoyable shave is supposed to be a real ritual, one that is never rushed, and actually leaves one feeling manly and not the victim of marketing hype (i.e. “Shave closer so you can get closer…”). Unfortuantely, I’ve yet to experience that.

…but I will shave for my school’s commencement exercises…no point in looking like I crawled out of a cave for that




2 responses

19 10 2007

this . . . is one of the best articles i’ve read on the subject. hehehe. =)

i’ve been growing a beard of sorts. for more than a month now, i think. =p

8 05 2008

Proper shaving will avoid both razor burn and ingrown hairs, and will moreover be an actual pleasure. More information here. Plus the second edition of the book will be available in about a month, and it has a chapter that deals specifically with ingrowns.

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