My bristles are falling out.
Out of my shaving brush, that is. I've had that brush quite a while--fifteen years or so?--so I guess it's earned the right to fall apart, to shed. Just like the rest of us as we near that age at which we own as many years as hairs on our head. Anyway, I purchased that old brush at the local Acme store (grocery) back when (they carried shaving brushes and soap), but when I looked today ... nada.
I thought I'd try CVS or one of the other chain pharmacies that now fill the corners of every crossroads in America, but then decided not to waste gas. Ordered one on Amazon--100% authentic boar bristle, I read, and I wondered (just briefly, mind you) about the poor boars who have their (whats?) plucked so that nostalgic men can shave their fat faces.
I just checked the ever-reliable Internet and found this bit of information about them:
|Natural Bristle brushes actually come from a special breed of boar raised solely for its bristles. The bristles are carefully harvested using a process similar to the methods employed in shearing sheep. The boar are extremely well cared-for; their bristles are harvested repeatedly during their long lifetimes.|
I hope that's true. It sounds ... humane. I don't like to think that--somewhere--there's an Igor with a set of rusty pliers and a screaming animal chained in a dank dungeon. Just so I can shave the old-fashioned way.
I started shaving a few years before I needed to. A number of my friends were already shaving--or should have been. I was in ninth grade (1958-1959), and on a trip to Sears with my mom, we visited the Men's Toiletries (or whatever they called it) to look at razors. I was humiliated. I did not want the salesperson (a very attractive young woman) discovering that I was buying my first razor (rather, my mom was buying my first razor), so I--honest to God--pretended the entire time that we were buying one for a friend, who, just by coincidence mind you, had facial skin a lot like mine. A lot like it. My mom--smirking only slightly--went along with this deception that fooled no one.
In those days, Gillette was marketing three types of razors called ... cleverly ... Light, Medium, and Heavy. (The old TV commercial for them had a tenor sing "Light," a baritone "Medium," a basso profundo "Heavy." That Heavy Guy's voice was so deep he could have sung the hell out of Stewpot in South Pacific.) I wanted Heavy, pretended it was a close call between Light and Medium. Sighed and settled for a Light, which did indeed suffice to cut the single whisker on my chinny-chin-chin, which boldly reappeared about a month after the first harvest.
I tried a few beards early in our marriage, always giving up when I was in full grunge and looked more like a serial killer than the school teacher I was. (I always did this in the summer, too, so that I didn't have to deal with administrators, who, bless their hearts, favored hairless-faced men in the classroom.) But when our son was in sixth grade, he, unthinking, said he'd like to see me in a beard.
Always the accommodating father, I grew one. It's still on my face. Photographs, however, show its evolution: dark, gray (fifty shades of), white.
But the best thing about it? I have to shave only twice a week. My neck. My upper cheeks. Takes a few minutes. Creature of habit that I am (something that can annoy Joyce more than my little Chaplin-stash did in 1969), I shave on Thursday and Sunday. No exceptions. If I forget on Thursday, I wait till Sunday to make up the difference.
For the past--what?--twenty-five or thirty years I've been using old-fashioned shaving soap and a boar-bristle brush. I have not ever tried a straight razor: Too many horror movies (not to mention Sweeney Todd) make me afraid even to hold one. I remember that my great-grandfather used one, though--had an old-fashioned razor-strap, too, which he sometimes suggested he would use on us if we didn't shut-the-hell up. (He never did, though.) Dad used a Gillette, then, later, an electric. I tried electric. Never liked it.
I keep the little disc of shaving soap in a Hiram College coffee cup. For years, I used a cup I'd bought back when I was a student there (1962-1966): It bore a picture of old Hinsdale Hall (RIP) and the former motto: Let There Be Light. (It's since been Latinized: Fiat Lux.) I dropped it, breaking off the finger-ring, used it sans finger-ring for years, then dropped it again. Buh-bye. So via Zazzle.com I designed and ordered and now use a new Hiram mug.
And, yes, I prefer the old-fashioned boar-bristle brush--even if it means Igor and the pliers and a dank basement. Some things are just worth it, you know?