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Writing about narcissism on a blog sweeps us way past irony and into the realm of tautology. Some things are self evident, particularly self. Particularly when you have pictures of yourself all over your Web site.

Still, I don’t feel embarrassed about embracing my inner narcissist. I’ve suddenly realized that I’ll probably not live forever, although exactly how long seems very unclear. I would like more information, please. I feel very healthy and I wear seatbelts, but statistics are cold. So maybe I’ll just write about whatever I want.

If you’ve read much of what I’ve written in the past few years, you might see me as a guy who is very much into self improvement. You are very nice people. You are wrong.

I get bored easily, is all, and I’ve Iearned that boredom and Mr. Chuck do not mix well, and don’t go lazy on me and think “oil and water.” Think “Wicked Witch of the West and a bucket of water.” Think of my son and a bunch of burritos. Think whatever you want, but don’t bore me. It’s not a good fit.

So, let’s talk about shaving.

I’ve worn a beard most of my adult life. There have been plenty of periods when I didn’t, but hirsute has been my default mode. It requires less work than shaving (or that’s the theory) and it’s socially acceptable. And there’s a nice aesthetic to a well-groomed beard; I admire these, although mine rarely was in that kind of shape.

But beards tend to go gray faster than the top floor, and in my case it made me feel weird, whiteness on my face and no sign of it on my head (I think there are more signs now, but it’s still sloooow). And then there was just the general mood of mixing things up, a couple of years ago, and I’d dropped weight and one day I shaved. And I’ve stayed shorn.

If you’ve read much of what I’ve written in the past few years, you might see me as a guy who is very much into self improvement. You are very nice people. You are wrong.

So this was a learning experience. Remembering how to do it, figuring out the best time and the best materials. I’ve created a mess o’ blotch from time to time, using a dull blade or shaving too quick, or letting it go too long, etc. It took, as most things do, practice.

It’s not a big deal; I’m not looking for the perfect shave, or at least I wasn’t. But I clicked on an article that caught my eye and it changed everything. Now I’m a shaver, and don’t get me started.

What interested me was cost. The tag line on this piece had to do with saving money, and this was a peeve. We all know the jokes about the multibladed cartridges — some executive at Gillette needs a new pool, so hey, let’s add a fourth blade and call it good, force everyone to buy new razors. And not just razors, of course, but replacement blades. And that drove me crazy. It’s like ink cartridges; you feel it’s cheaper to buy a new printer, sometimes. And THAT’S WHAT THEY WANT.

So this article talked about a guy who finds old safety razors on eBay or somewhere, the kind my dad used to use, and then buys blades in bulk and the whole operation costs him about 4 bucks a year, something. I liked this idea a lot.

But I’m lazy, and I figured I wouldn’t go hunting for an old-fashioned razor. I did finish the piece, though. This guy really liked shaving. He knew a lot about it and he’d obviously thought a lot about it. People funny.

One thing he did fascinated me – he used a shaving brush and soap. Just like in the movies. And this made sense, too: The brush gets the hairs on your face to stand up, just like in the commercials for the multiple blades. Hmmm.

Last week, then, I saw one. A shaving brush, right in Bartell’s (our local, homegrown drugstore up here). Made of boar’s hair. And right next to it was a nice little ceramic shaving soap bowl with an actual bar of shaving soap. Seven bucks for the brush, seven bucks for the soap/dish combo, and I bought it. What the hell.

You know me, or you should. I’m a skeptic when it comes to the good old days. I like indoor plumbing. The Middle Ages really sucked. Segregation was bad. Using my debit card at the pump still makes me feel efficient, even 10 years after it became routine.

But those guys? Those olden days guys? They knew what they were talking about when it came to shaving, that’s what I’m thinking.

This was great.

It’s the nature of the Web (and humanity) that there are serious shavers out there. I’m not that guy. I just hated spending a lot of money and wandered down a road that led me to a boar bristle brush and a smooth shave. I buy disposable razors now, use one a week (shaving twice, too, at a session, with and agin the grain). A 2-dollar bar of hypoallergenic shaving soap looks like it might last me six months, hard to say. I not only have smooth skin but 24 hours after I shave, it’s still pretty smooth.

But really? Lathering that baby up, covering my face with soap, feeling the bristles scrape and the tickle in my nose and the tingle afterwards? It’s fun, and who knew?

Which is why yesterday I bought one for my son.

 

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