Monogamous Shaving: Day Five
June 5, 2005
Another perfect shave. This is bad, bad news.
Bad because it seems I’ve achieved what I originally set out to do with all this old-school wetshaving business, which is get a great shave. This I’ve done. Repeatedly. At this point, second-naturedly. No more squinting, no more overthinking, no more trial and error, no more experimentation with different razors, blades, creams, brushes, aftershaves, etc. I’m done. I did it. Now I’m supposed to congratulate myself on another goal met, and move on to the next worthy challenge, like finding the perfect wireless headphones.
Except it isn’t working out that way. When you boil it all down to the main objective — achieving a close, comfortable, baby-snooth shave without ugly red marks on my neck on a daily basis — I have clearly figured this stuff out. Not that it’s a brain teaser by any stretch of the word. Men have been shaving like this for hundreds of years, and often with tools and under conditions that were much less effective than what we have at our disposal today. But I do think, though, that it was easier back then to learn proper wetshaving right off the bat because it was all that was available, compared with the process of unlearning all the slop and bad habits which modern multi-blade razors and canned foam/gel were expressly designed to allow. Better to have picked up a straight razor or a DE when you’re 15, suffer for awhile, and then be on the right track for the rest of your shaving days than to grow up, as I did, with poor quality disposable razors and multi-blade cartridges and then have to radically change everything I did and knew about shaving once I switched to a DE.
That said, I did it. And I really enjoyed every stage of the process — the discovery of a whole new school of thought, the gleaning of ideas and advice, the shopping for cool-man razors, blades, creams, and brushes. Everything about this old-school wetshaving thing was much, much cooler on every level than the drugstore crap I’d been shaving with all my life.
And therein lies the problem: maybe it’s not supposed to be cool?
Consider the morning bathroom ritual. Showering isn’t cool. You do it to get clean. A nice, hot shower is pleasurable, certainly, but unless there’s something wrong with you, showering isn’t something to obsess or fuss too much over. Shampooing your hair isn’t cool. You just do it. You lather and rinse, your hair gets clean, end of story. It’s not supposed to be cool. It just is. You wash with soap in the shower and wash your hair with shampoo and it all works fine and you get out and towel off. You do it to get clean, and you get clean, and that’s it. It’s as it should be.
So why must shaving be this spa-grade pleasure ritual larded with shiny gadgets, expensive implements, sweet smells, bracing sensations, relaxing rituals? I mean, I love the hell out of it, but is this really as it should be?
If it isn’t, than I’ve spent a lot of time and energy puffing up what should by all rights be a simple grooming task into an EVENT. I’m not saying I have, I’m just saying I’m wondering about it. Because the fact is, I’m sitting here with the ability to get perfect daily shaves without any fuss or muss as long as I stick to the same setup, and I really miss the variety and experimentation of the last year or so that I’ve been exploring this whole wetshaving business.
Right now it looks like a choice between consistently great yet boring shaves, or enjoying the variety of all the different gear I’ve acquired at the expense of shaves which vary between good and horrendous.
I wish I could have both.