on the cutting edge

Like much of my personality, style, and habit, I learned to shave from my dad. I distinctly remember him using a really nice silver or platinum razor holder with his initials engraved in it. I would take the holder and (without loading a razor) cover my face in shaving cream (that awesome stuff that came out blue but immediately foamed up white!) and pretend to shave.
By the time I was old enough to have to shave, though, he had switched, like millions of others, to those disposable blade jobbies. At the time, they probably only had two blades on them. And I remember when they came out with a three-blader him fondly telling me that the maker (Gillette or Schick or whomever) didn't bother patenting it; the technology to put three blades into a disposable plastic head, with tiny little shock-absorbing springs on each blade, was so tricky that no one could copy them.
So I faithfully started shaving with those miracles of modern disposable culture.
Every few years, they would change the design of the blade, so I would buy a new handle, and dump my money into new heads; three blades! FOUR blades! FIVE BLADES OMFG!
At some point I switched to a nice electric razor; one of those self-cleaning deals, so now instead of buying expensive disposable blade heads, I was buying expensive cleaning fluid cartridges.

I have always been a huge fan of the barber. In Japan, this is still an art no lost to the vagaries of the 90s. Sure, SF has hip and trendy salons where you can get a straight-razor shave and trim your neckbeard and an aloe face wipe for $175. But in Japan, family-run barber shops have been using real razors for decades. I have been going to Barbar Kawamura for over a decade; dad runs it with mom and their two daughters. $45 gets me a full head and face shave, including ear and nose hair trim, straightening of the eyebrows (including unibrow repair), ear wax cleaning, shampoo, and a quick face/head/shoulders massage. And coffee, if I need to take a break.
The whole ordeal takes well over an hour and involves countless hot towels. It is utterly epic. One has not lived until one has had one's nasal hairs trimmed with a straight razor.

I have always been envious of that awesome shave, and recently I finally took the plunge; I sold my electric razor and bought a Feather double-edged razor holder. Feather is a local Japanese maker of personal and professional grooming and medical products, mainly bladed. The holder, and two blades, cost all of $8.50. I have since purchased a box of 100 Shark double-edged razor blades for $15. Assuming I am hedonistic and use one blade a shave, and assuming I actually bother to shave 5 times a week (massively unlikely!), then I have purchased 20 weeks worth of incredibly close shaving. The same amount spent on Gillette ProGlide Fusion 5-blade disposable heads would get me less than a week's worth...and a worse shave.

Once winter is over and I start shaving my head regularly again I will hopefully be comfortable enough with my double-edged razor to use it on my head as well. If I really want to Man Up I will then strop and use my own straight razor...but one step at a time, eh.

For anyone suffering through an electric razor and/or disposables: switch. Immediately. You shan't regret it!

1 comment:

Myron said...

Your dad tried a straight razor for a while (he bought it in Canada in 1964); he had to give it up, though.
Shaky hands!