My father taught me how to shave when I was 12 or 13. I forget exactly when. He lathered my face using his shaving mug and brush—which I have to this day—and I shaved using his metal razor, not disposable (they weren’t made at the time) nor electric (they didn’t give a close enough shave—so my father told me).
The razor opened by twisting the bottom of the handle, where we would add a brand new Wilkinson Double Edge Blade. I hated those new blades because they were too sharp and cut my skin very easily, but they were my father’s favorite.
Afterward, I applied a small dab of Old Spice Cologne. Just a small dab otherwise I’d be reminded how sharp those razors really were. We call it Old Spice Classic Cologne now to differentiate it from all the other Old Spice Products, but when I was growing up it was the only product in the Old Spice line.
Shaving was then, and probably still is today, a young boy’s first rite of passage that signals that he is becoming a man, at least in the biological sense. All the changes that we associate with male puberty: voice changing, experiencing a growth spurt, and sprouting hair everywhere is happening all at once. Shaving is the first time our fathers take us aside and teach us that first act that signifies that we are now becoming a man.
I’ve read about some of the pressures that men face today to prove their manhood: providing for their families, being stoic, etc. However, none of those ever caused me as much anxiety when compared to going out into the world having forgotten to shave. Everyone would be looking at me thinking: “Look at that man, he didn’t shave today.”
Interestingly, I’ve also read that nurses know that their male patients are finally beginning to heal when those men start shaving again.
If I could grow a beard that looked like The Rock I probably would, but I don’t wear a beard for several reasons. I have a cleft chin and I wouldn’t want to cover up my one redeeming facial feature. Plus it’s a conversation piece when the topic of shaving does come up.
The last time that I did grow a beard, it was too much work to maintain it and try to even make it look reasonably presentable. The final straw came when I looked in the mirror one day and said to myself, “I look like Papa Smurf!!” Off it came the next day.
So, I wake up each day and go through my daily routine of shaving, and know that I can face the world having performed my first manly ritual of the day.
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