I recently got replacement blades for my electric razor. Hey, every 10 or 15 years, they probably get a bit dull, and need to be replaced, right? Trusty Amazon had just the right blades, and got them to me in a couple of days; after I installed them, my wife noticed the difference in how close the shave was compared to my old blades. I don’t remember the first time I actually tried to shave myself, but what I do remember is “borrowing” my dad’s single-blade Schick gold-plated razor.
It was already a bit worn out by the mid 1960’s, but probably gave me the best shaves of my life. I may or may not have absconded with this razor when I moved out to live life on my own.
I guess I always had a small rebel streak in me. I remember growing sideburns in high school (strictly forbidden in those ancient times), and being sent down to the Vice-Principals office. He took his ballpoint pen, drew a mark by my mid-ear, and sent me down to the boiler room to shave off the sideburns with a rusty razor before I could return to class. The next year, I grew my hair into a “Beatles” style cut; the principal told me I couldn’t graduate on-stage unless I got it cut. Somehow I snuck by, and graduated.
A couple of years later I found myself a full-fledged member of the U.S. Army National Guard. As you may imagine, they were a bit more strict in enforcing regulations about facial hair and hair length. Checking in for Basic Training, my head was shorn to the scalp, and all facial hair had to go. I still have that photo in some place; it was scary. All I can say is some men have perfectly shaped heads that look great bald or shaved. Not me. I’m not sure if maybe I was dropped on my head as an infant, but I have a huge depression on my skull that resembles the shape of an elephant’s head.
Anyhow, for one weekend a month, plus two weeks during the summer I conformed to their short hair, neatly trimmed mustache requirements. The rest of the time, I was on my own; my employer was crazy insistent on showing up for work on time (go figure), but otherwise didn’t care about personal grooming. So every month after my guard meetings, I’d grow my facial hair in a different style. Fu Manchu, Mutton Chops, full beard, Van Dyke, Goatee, Horseshoe mustache. My beard grows quickly, so it was a lot of fun to play with all these different appearances. It was even better when they allowed us to wear short-hair wigs to the monthly meetings so I could grow my hair long.
I guess reality smacks us all alongside the head at some point in life. I had moved to Bellingham, Washington, and was struggling to find a job. At one place where I applied and was rejected, I noticed my long hair got a bit of attention. So, I got it all cut off, shaved all but a regulation mustache, and went back. I offered to work for a month for free (for the training), and then they could pay me what they thought I was worth if they saw some value and potential in me. It worked!
Many years later, I was blessed to meet an incredible woman, and remarry. She did love my mustache, and so did I – until I started taking a close look at some photos of me. I noticed that there appeared to be a large, ungainly gray caterpillar crawling across my upper lip! Not only was it a bit unsightly, I realized it was adding about 10 years to my apparent age – and in a business that has a huge fashion component, age was detriment, not a benefit. After a bit of back and forth discussion, we agreed the caterpillar should be removed.
I guess the good news for me right now is that even though the hair on the top of my head is thinning, there is still enough to cover up the elephant dimple without resorting to a comb-over! I also realized a while back, after I retired, that I really didn’t like to shave anymore. The good news is that while my wife likes my clean, smooth shave, I can generally get by shaving every other day. My new, sharp shaver blades really delivered with another close shave, and a trip down memory lane. What memories of shaving might you have?