Although I made a great leap forward a few weeks ago, by disconnecting our land line and getting a cellular phone, I compensated by becoming a throwback in matters of personal hygiene.
No, I still bathe and brush my teeth daily. I mean shaving: I reverted to my grandfather's Gem Micromatic safety razor, after misplacing my Gillette Sensor two-blade. For some time, at the prompting of another friend who questions technology on a daily basis, I was considering "going retro" with my shaving. Moreover, I got angry over the war of escalation in price and numbers of blades per razor (it's spawned a parody of Moore's Law: 14 blades / razor blade by the year 2100!). I dislike electric razors, having used one for nearly a decade in and after high school.
So it was back to 1920 for me. I'm also skilled with my grandfather's razor (a pristine version is pictured here); in his last years, I shaved him weekly with it, causing nary a nick. And for 30 years I have used his shaving mug and a brush, after finding shaving creme expensive and wasteful.
Being a thick-bearded man of Lebanese descent, I wear a closely cropped beard and have done so for--gasp--33 years. I only shave my throat and cheekbones. This reduces nicking, but I was unprepared for the excellence of a technology nearly 100 years old. Simply put: nothing modern touches a good blade in a safety razor, excepting a straight razor that I won't dare try even with my steady hands.
As usual, an innocent interest of mine lands me in the midst of fanatical collectors. All things nerdy spawn Web sites, so I give you:
- The Internet Museum of Safety Razors: My Micromatic is on the Gem page, if you are so inclined. I rather miss these "Internet 1.0" sites...the museum site was last updated in 2004, alas.
- Badger and Blade, with a shaving wiki!
- Classic Shaving (.com). Of course.
- Lee's Safety Razors: this is my favorite of the lot.
Shaving has become fun again. It's more of a mindful and meditative ritual now, which is what using technology should be, in my opinion, to keep one from taking it for granted. I'll soon have a '65 Mustang ragtop back on the road, an old favorite car of my wife's, and from driving her other classic, a '68 Chevy C-10 truck, I can tell you: you do not multitask with antique technology. Eyes on the open road or your precious throat.
Besides, old-school shaving has all the doo-dads that make antique technology so fascinating: I love wiping the blade clean amid the wafting scent of aftershave, as I prepare myself for the daily grind. I had stopped using aftershave, but now, with such a close shave daily, it refreshes my skin. Moreover, when shaving with antiques one must pay attention to the razor or risk a cut. I'm very good at it, but the focus is zen-like: hai karate!
Well, back to slapping my cheeks with Aqua Velva and repeating old jingles that my truck-driver father used to belt out on our road trips:
Ladies jump from fire escapes
To get away from hairy apes.
Use Burma Shave!
That's not quite the historical slogan, but it was good enough for me to kindle a life-long interest in the manly art of a good, close shave.