Straight Dope

I give up. I was so psyched up from yesterday’s tale of Italian barbershop shaving that I whipped out my trusty Dovo Shavette disposable blade straight razor to get with the Italian program — Proraso and a Shavette go together like cinghiale and polenta.

Or at least they have for me in the past. Today I couldn’t shave with this duo worth a damn. I don’t know what the deal was — I had all the time in the world, my mind was one with the blade, my hand was steady, and I loaded half of a fresh Merkur Platinum DE blade in the Dovo. All the bases were covered, but my shave sucked.

Or rather, I sucked. I suck at this! No matter how many times I try shaving with a disposable blade straight razor, whether it’s the almighty Feather Artist Club or the more forgiving Dovo Shavette, my shaves are about as consistent as Sonny Rollins. Which is to say, sometimes it’s brilliant, but all too often it’s just not happening at all.

It’s not the straight’s fault. It’s my fault. I just don’t have the touch for this kind of thing. Shaving with a straight razor, even a disposable blade type like the Shavette, is a much more difficult proposition than shaving with a DE, which is itself a more difficult proposition than shaving with modern cartridge razors. I was able to climb the first mountain, but summitting with a straight razor is, I think, beyond my natural ability.

Hardcore cut throat guys like the he-men who post on straightrazorplace.com would say I’m just punking out too early, and that I should put in more time to learn how to shave with a straight. They’d also say that shaving with a cheap Shavette loaded with half a DE blade isn’t really shaving with a STRAIGHT, and that what I really need to do is get ahold of a real straight and start learning how to shave like a man.

I hear those guys, and am in awe of their ability. But I’m just not cut out for this. I get a much, much better shave with a DE, every time. This morning, I did two downward passes with the Shavette and still felt lots of stubble — I cleaned it up with but a lone upward shave with a Merkur Progress DE and lo and behold, I had a perfect shave. The first two passes with the Shavette took me ten excrutiating minutes of careful, squinty concentration. The quickie upward pass with the DE took less than sixty seconds.

I know I’ll go back on my word eventually and pick it up again, but I really do think I’ve given the straight razor experience my best shot, and it’s telling me I shouldn’t quit my day job.