Something Really Old VII: Shaving
From the AOL years (1996 – 1998).
After months of using my razor when she thought I wasn’t looking, my wife finally gave in and got one of her own. I saw it today when I opened the medicine cabinet. It was all swoops and bumps and utterly lacked sharp edges, which struck me as mildly odd. On a razor, sharp edges are kind of the point. If my wife wanted to run a smooth, rounded object over her legs, she could have just as well used my bald spot.
I finally located the razor cartridge (it was on the smaller of the two egg-like structures) and found another weird thing: little crossbars over the blades. I have no earthly idea what that’s all about. I suppose the idea here is to keep the blades from getting too close to the skin, thereby avoiding nicks and cuts. Which would be fine, if leg hair levitated an eighth of an inch from the surface of the skin. But it doesn’t. My wife may be avoiding nicks, but the trade-off may be permanent, Don Johnson-like stubble.
“Why are you staring at my razor?” my wife asked.
“Because it looks like a tricorder,” I said.
“Oh,” she waved her hand dismissively. “They’re just trying to make it feminine.”
I looked at it again. It is feminine, to the extent that looks absolutely nothing like my razor. Her razor is playful, swooping, postmodernist. My razor is a metal stick with two blades on the end. Walter Gropius or one of his Bauhaus “Machines for Living” baddies whomped up my razor one day when they needed beer money.
The only things vaguely ergodynamic about it are little rubber bumps on the shaft, that serve to strengthen your grip on the thing as you swipe it across your face at high speeds, just like they do in the commercials. Of course, in the commercials, they’re already shaved under the foam. There’s no razor in the cartridge, either. Try swinging a razor across your neck like that in real life, and the last thing you’ll see are your toes as your head rolls by them, stopped only by a final clunk against the toilet porcelain.
Other than the bumps, it’s a lean and mean shaving machine. The razor manufacturers make token bows to the gods of comfort and safety in their ads, but at the end of the day, you know that the feeling at the razor factory is: you’re a man. Deal with the pain. No little crossbeams for you, you hear them say. You tear off your own head, it’s your own damn fault. If you can’t handle the blade, don’t dare to shave. Oh, stop crying. Here. We’ll give you a moisturizing strip, you big baby. Shaving is the last stand of the buff macho stud.
Mind you, I don’t want my razor to be all swoopy and curvy. I prefer it the way it is. Shaving can be a painful experience, and I don’t want my razor pretending to be my friend. It’s a mercenary, barging onto my face every few days, wreaking havoc, taking no prisoners. It might as well be ugly. My wife’s razor does all the horrifying things mine does, but hides it beneath a pretty, sweet exterior. It’s the Heather Locklear of hygiene products, and my wife’s legs are Melrose Place.
I’ve noticed that a lot of painful things relating to women have had curves added to them, as a sort of protective camouflage. I see those commercials for what we men (when we are somehow barred from running from the room, screaming, at their first appearance) like to euphemistically term “feminine products.” At one point or another, the very attractive and enthusiastic woman in the ad says “now with a rounded applicator!” with a tone that implies that this is the height of several thousand years of human engineering.
I have no direct experience with this (thank God), but I have to say I am skeptical; maybe if she said “now with a topical anesthetic!” I could see getting excited. Thing is, just because something is rounded off doesn’t mean it can’t hurt. Babies are rounded off, but they don’t give epidurals just for fun.
Ultimately, what bugs me about my wife’s new razor is now that she has it, I can’t blame my own painful shaving experiences on the possibility that my wife used my razor without switching the cartridge. Before, I could always rationalize a bad shaving experience on the idea that the blades were exhausted from the workout my wife gave them (excepting Jay Leno, most men’s chins have less surface area than a woman’s two legs). Maybe I’ll borrow hers from time to time. The little crossbeams might be useful after all.