Digital Mischief by Warrigal Zappa
As we hurtle towards the other major Christian festival, named for Eastre, the pagan Saxon goddess of fertility, I am reminded of the persistent human interest in raising the dead.
Which, surprisingly led to thoughts of the pagans razing a village.
And thus we arrived at razoring one’s face.
Now, I’m not one to drone on about the history of hair removal, to wax on about the Pig’s legs, or recount other hair-raising stories of depilation – or (can it be true, ‘painless epilation’). But I am alarmed by the technological thrust into the simple tool – the razor.
In truth, I was dragged kicking and screaming into the world of shaving after 35 years of merely giving the beard a quick trim with a small set of battery-powered shears. Cost – almost zip. When the First Mate quietly slipped the news under my guard that my rapidly disappearing melanin had led to a look that, (put frankly) was reminiscent of a dweller in the Hunza Valley in the spectacular mountains in Pakistan (famous for the incredible age of its inhabitants).
This same woman (in my interests, apparently) has a sly way of telling me it’s time for a haircut. She gives a tonsorial weather report – describing my quiff as “cloudy, but fine”.
I changed the beard from a quick mow of a natural pasture, to a goatee that was reminiscent of a sea captain, or possibly a reclusive literary giant – mostly white. Not what was wanted, Jan. So I mowed the goatee down, and in one of those whimsical moments, I let go of the reins and just shaved off the whole damned thing.
My face felt like I had used it for sanding down the back deck. Red and raw. I mean I was feeling like a third degree kind of dude. So the First Mate applied one of her girlie face creams and stood back as the steam rose from the rapidly-evaporating moisturiser.
But the whole show settled down and now I was faced (literally) with the difficult decision about what to do next. I could just let the pampas regrow, but at the cost of adding ten years back on the clock. Or I could contemplate shaving again.
The Emmlets (who, in their first twenty years of life, hadn’t seen me beardless) didn’t help by looking horrified and pointing out “Shit, Dad, you have NO LIPS !!!”. But I was determined to try to see my way through the thicket.
So I went in search of the perfect shave – which seemed to me to be a matter of finding the perfect mower. My old Dad had used a Remington electric shaver for as long as I could remember. A straight, reciprocating no-nonsense thing. He was theologically opposed to the Phillips triple rotary kind and warned me off them as a child with no need to shave, but a need to remember his lesson well into the future. So I was permitted to practice.
Allowing for the march of time, and harbouring the fear of a lacerated face from a blade shaver I went for a new battery-powered Remington that was easy to take on tour.
This managed to leave just enough white stubble for me to look like an ageing rock star, but failed to actually provide what the advertisers call “a clean shave” and which by extension must have meant that I was wearing a dirty shave.
Next step was the dreaded blade shaver, but things had apparently come a long long way from the old Gillette blue blades of my youth. Razors were no longer tagged with the “safety” epithet. All the fear had been removed by encasing the blade in plastic and encouraging the punter to throw away the whole razor when the beast becomes blunt. But that was just the half of it. No, it was more like 16%-20% of it since the state of the art was apparently the five or six blade wonder with upbeat names starting with F – like “Fusion”, or “Focus” or “Fabbitron 6”. I was convinced that any whisker that escaped blades one to five was a sitter for blade 6 and I was impressed by the cartoon graphics that showed how blade #1 dragged the whisker up just that bit further so that blades #2-6 could effectively cut it off below ground level – leaving a baby’s bum smooth shave.
But there was a catch. Six blades (apart from being so expensive that a credit card purchase was in order – sufficient cash being just too heavy to carry) cause a huge amount of drag on the skin. So sir will be requiring a top quality shaving gel. Note, the brush and soap have apparently also gone the way of all flesh. Thus started the search for the perfect shaving crème.
This is no mean crusade. Not enough lubrication = sandpapered face and pain. Too much lubrication and the six blade wonder skims across the fuzz and doesn’t cut anything. Not enough moisturising and the skin dries out and cracks like those heels in chemist shop windows. Too much moisturiser and “Whoo hoo – look at Mr Greasyface”.
And shaving goo comes in a range of products from $2.79 – the Pig-Tel Lard’n Lye for Men right up to miracle products from Provence ($54.95) promising micropellicules of energising foodgemoosiac that apparently reverse ageing and improve sexual prowess. I mean if Sean Connery uses them, how come he always looks unshaven. Huh ? Huh ? Yeah, and George Clooney ? Huh ? Huh ?
So I’m on the treadmill now. The endless pursuit of the perfect shave. And the secret search for the ideal treatment for the eruption of alarming amounts of ear and nose hair, that unlike the “cloudy but fine” hair hair, sprout black and luxurious.
It’s enough to razor the dread.