What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Monday, August 11, 2008


I love my electric shaver. I say this in full awareness of and with no intention to offend men who prefer manual razors, and especially with no intention to offend those who would be awakened every morning by my annoying buzz, if only I woke up early enough to cause annoyance. No intention, but a sad expectation.

There was a time when using an electric shaver was an unmitigated joy. That was back in the day when my voice could hit the same notes as Carrie Underwood and my stubble was just beginning to deserve that name (as opposed to “down”). I listened with grown up elation to the motorized hum of the shaver combining pleasantly with the crisp snipping sound of decapitated hair. Sure, I had spent prior years playing it tough when my pre-teen friends told me how they longed to shave. “Won’t that be cool?” they would ask. “No,” I would answer with a knowing shrug. “Just another chore.” But deep down, I was straining to make my whiskers grow and urging my follicles into productivity with every ounce of inner effort. And I felt pretty manly when my growth justified the whacker.

A few years later though, when time had done its work, using my electric shaver was anything but an unmitigated joy. There was a particular morning when the moment of truth arrived. I sprang out of bed at half past five, hoping to beat everyone else in the hotel room to the bathroom and complete my morning routine. That's when I realized that the noise of my buzzing contraption was going to fall on welcome ears. I looked at my shaver, and then at the slumbering males a few feet away. Even when they were awake, what would they think of my device? I furtively stuck it in my bag, showered, and waited, hoping beyond hope that another member of the group would turn on an electric shaver.

But no—one by one they entered the bathroom, and one by one they came out with fresh, unwhiskered faces, not having emitted a tone of automated noise. I rubbed my cheek in despair, and left the room with everyone else, wondering whether I looked sloppy or sexy. Maybe my stubble, like the holes and paint stains on my jeans or the knots normally in my hair, would be taken for a planned designer look rather than mere carelessness.

Maybe, but given my general preferences, probably not. In that raging debate over the rugged, whiskered look versus the cleaner and trimmer styles, I generally take the saner and smoother side. I use more than the beard-trimmer on my electric razor. I am not one of those men—the ones who think girls can be wooed with bristly, unkept cheekbones. In fact, I do not even observe with my colleagues the sacrosanct tradition referred to as “No-Shave November.”

Tangent: Participants in No-Shave November let the razors lie for all of that month, hoping in the interval to “grow more bestial, brutish, and manly.” The first two of those adjectives are quite appropriate, but the last one applies only occasionally. Some organizations have tried to civilize No-Shave November by funneling all the effort into a non-profit cause, but so far they have been largely unsuccessful. Primitive (i.e. college-age) man does not take easily to civilization.

Another Tangent: No-Shave November is most common among white, nerdy males. I do not participate in it because I am only a nerdy male, not the other thing. While I am entitled to check the “White/Caucasian” box on forms and surveys, my Mediterranean blood makes shave-fasting an impracticality. Like my Mediterranean compatriots, I had a bushy uno-brow by the time I was eleven, and grew whiskers before many of my peers. I also apprehend the day when I shall grow hair on my back. I spare you further details, gentle reader, but see this link for the general idea.

Another Other Tangent: Yes, the link is worth clicking. I know that some people get carried away with hyperlinks, falling prey to a reprehensible link fanaticism. Far be it from me to do so! All my links are relevant, informative, and hard to find.

As I was saying, I think that the smoother the cut, the better. Manual-razorites often concur with this opinion, in a vague, uninformed sort of way, and try to compensate for their bad razors by adding blades. Consequently, a comical one-upmanship pervades the market of inferior (non-electric) razors. You see, in the beginning there was The Razor. It was a simple, elegant blade fashioned in such a general and unspecialized manner that it was as useful for cutting throats as it was for hair (I’m not violent; I get my ideas from Faulkner’s novels). Then, probably to make amends, there was the Safety Razor, designed to prevent cuts. Then some genius created the double-bladed razor. Not to be outdone, another genius created a triple-bladed razor. Now, razors generally have a minimum of three blades, and sometimes five, or even, rumor has it, seven. Some moron of a CEO has even decided to produce a nine-bladed one, apparently hoping to make people look like this. Probably the next hot item will be the Armadillo Razor, a clump of moving, biting blades with no handle at all.

“Why would anyone use so many blades,” practical, electrically-savvy people like me are inclined to ask. The answer is probably quite simple: to shave faster. Yes, there are some who think shaving is a “therapeutic process,” a time to enjoy “the smell of the shaving cream, warm water on your skin and a good 15-20 minutes of personal reflection.” Maybe you know such people—the kind that shave so close they could remove a real shadow, not to mention a metaphorical one. Evidently, these are the kind of people who work at The Art of Shaving, a chain of stores with a location near you. But the majority of razor users think that a nine-bladed razor will let them approach the five minute shave that is, according to one site, possible with an electric shaver.

Of course, I belong to neither category. With my trusty electric apparatus, I can have myself buzzed clean in a single minute. And have you awake, as a part of the bargain.

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