# # The Necessary Year - Day 46: A Close Shave

Brother, I Can See Your Skull.

Brother, I Can See Your Skull. - The Coreyshead Blog

The Necessary Year – Day 46: A Close Shave


(this post is part of an aborted 1 year experiment in material abstinence I called The Necessary Year)


Ah, fashion.

It used to be the height of good taste and breeding in our culture to sport a full, luxuriant beard. Now such a thing is typically seen only on those who hearken to our society’s more colorful periphery.

For those of us who can grow such a personal decoration, and whom wish to stay within the bounds of fashionable taste, this means shaving.

Oh, the joy of shaving! Who among us does not savor the early-morning opportunity to scrape stiff hair from some of the most delicate skin on their body with razor-sharp steel? (I remain thankful that portions of my skull are all I’ve ever felt the need to shave on a daily basis – my condolences to those who must shave their pits – and/or lower – on a regular basis. Yikes!)

And the options! Straight razor. Safety razor. Disposable razor. Electric razor. Laser depilation.

I’ve owned an electric razor since I was 12, which means that, by the time I started needing it (at 17), it had seen better days, having been used for a number of now long-forgotten but undoubtedly harebrained, alternative activities its designers never conceived of. Consequently, after trying and failing to remove the pre-beard peach fuzz from my cheeks with said device, I had to ask my mother if she had a spare razor I could use.

She did – a semi-modern shaver that accepted razor cartridges.

I have since replaced my first electric razor with a newer model and use it for those times I go completely off my nut and shave my entire head for months at a time but, for daily facial care, I still use that same, spare, safety razor handle my mother gave me (she might say lent – hah!) over 20 years ago.

The cartridge options have changed, though.

When I first started using the thing, I could find either single or double blade cartridges that would fit the handle. Then the single blade cartridges went the way of the dodo, which was fine because I bought into that whole “mo’ bettah blades” marketing scheme when I was still a teen.

Not so much so that I got into triple-blade cartridges. Triple-blade? You ever price them mommas? Yeesh …

After a number of years they began marketing the cartridges with or without a little white “comfort strip” which is some kind of soapy/waxy crap affixed to the head of the razor just behind the blades so that it smooches over your freshly raw-ified skin with each pass of the razor, supposedly pulling double-duty as a skin soother and blood coagulator.

I was a manly-man as a young, dumb punk however, and eschewed such niceties, considering them unnecessary to the point of fruitiness. I mean, come on: we’re shaving our beards, here!

Eventually I accidentally bought a package of them – while in a sort of a mad, grocery-store panic I suppose – and only realized my mistake once I got home and unbagged my purchases.

Too lazy to take them back, I decided to go ahead and use them.

Reasoning that the comfort strip removed about half of the need for squirting shaving cream all over your face, I tried shaving using water only – and I was about half right. But half right doesn’t shave your face and I was back to the regular cartridges and shaving cream shortly thereafter.

Until they quit selling the cartridges without the comfort strip, that is.

When I first began shaving, I would use a razor once, maybe twice before throwing it out and snapping on a new one. Then I realized how much the damned things cost me and I’d keep shaving with the same one until the process became more like using tweezers than a blade, the blood beading up on my face like crimson dew.

For TNY, I have attempted to be more scientific about it. I now use my comfort stripped, twin-bladed cartridge for five days in a row, starting fresh each Monday, wearing it down to a dull-edged frazzle by Friday, and knocking off the practice entirely for the weekends.

I figure this utilizes the full-potential of the disposable razor’s life and also gives my face a chance to take a two-day breather from the dehydrating and depilating, lather-scrape routine.

With ten cartridges per package, and each package coming out at around $8 (I buy the in-house brand, none of this fancy-schmancy name-brand stuff) that’s two and a half months of shaving at .80ยข a week. Not bad (I’ve no idea how much a squirt of shaving cream or the water costs – leave me alone).

Further, I use hot water only for the initial moistening of my face – for the rest of my shaving routine I use cold water, a habit I picked up not out of economy but from a bit of last-minute advice from Johnny Caspar (Miller’s Crossing); the theory being that cold water causes the steel to contract, giving you a sharper edge and, thus, a closer shave. I don’t know how valid this theory is but it makes me feel as smart as Johnny Caspar, so I do it.


I recently attempted to submit a picture of myself for a trade publication at the request of my boss. I sent in the best picture I had of myself: a kind of cheesy glamor shot I captured a couple of years ago in a digital photography class. Me, my knuckles, and a nicely groomed beard.

My boss was not amused: “You don’t have a beard! I’ll take a picture of you next week,” she emailed back.

“Oh, but I do have a beard,” I countered, “it is just internal at the moment. I have to shave it every day but, I assure you, it is there. My driver’s license features me with a beard. I frequently grow a beard during the winter.”

“You are not,” she replied, “going to grow a beard.”

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6 Responses to “The Necessary Year – Day 46: A Close Shave”

  1. Ren says:

    You look like you’re punching yourself in the chin (of course your beard is taking the brunt of it).

    Thanks for the chuckle!

    • cae says:

      The next picture in the series shows me picking my teeth out of the carpet while I stand over myself, smirking.

  2. KJT says:

    Hey! I use those same double blade cartridges w/ the strip too. I use ’em on the old melon as well as the visage. Works like a charm. And yes, I still have the ‘handle’ part from like 20-25 years ago too.

    What fun!

    • cae says:

      When pulling a Telly, I touch up the ol’ pate-sheen with a safety razor but, as stated in the post, prefer an electric for the main job.

      I find, that, with the razor alone, I am too prone to stripping the skin from my head like peeling old wallpaper. So pleasant.

      A similarly minded, cue-ball fan told me he used an electric razor for his perfectly polished appearance and I have found that, after having completed the initial whacking, I prefer said method as well.

      You were well in my mind when I wrote this post, K. If I recall correctly, you could shave two and a half times a day, then blast the stumps? I’m blowing dandelion seeds in comparison. Sheesh.

  3. Matney says:

    LMAO! This has got to be one of the funnier things I have read. I love that your boss forbids you to grow a beard.

    I myself view beards as only looking appropriate on Rabbi’s and creepy stalker men; of course only when paired with a pair of aviator sunglasses. (works well for stalker Rabbi’s)


    btw: that picture doesn;t even look like you. I had to stare at it for like 10 seconds until I could actually see you under the beard. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • cae says:

      > I love that your boss forbids you to grow a beard.

      I don’t know about loving it but I do find it interesting – telling, even – that she believes she has the right to such a level of control over me. I wonder what other personal choices I am forbidden? I’d better consult the ol’ employee manual …

      > I had to stare at it for like 10 seconds until I could actually see you under the beard.

      You think you have it bad from your side, imagine mine; like peering out through a carpet!

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