Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thoughts on Shaving

Within a half-second of smearing the first thick swath of inexpensive shaving cream across my weeklong beard, I remembered exactly why I had waited so long to shave. I hate shaving, and for seven consecutive days had allowed myself to rationalize the decision of not shaving. Nevertheless, I had committed, and thoughts of “you don’t have to be perfect, just get most of it and get the rest next time” alternated with “stupid fucker – why did you wait so long” and “why are you even doing this – you don’t have shit to do until at least Monday.”

Typically, I shave every second or (more often) third day. I probably could shave every day, but my facial hair is on what seems to be a 36-hour cycle. (I once met a woman – and by “met,” I of course mean, “attempted to seduce” – who told me she was on a 36-hour sleep cycle. Her roommates ridiculed her for this to varying degrees – she was also quite attractive, however, and they were certainly not, so some of this, of course, was due to envy – but I did not, as I empathized with her plight, because of my own.) The morning after shaving, I convince myself that the stubble is hardly noticeable (though I know that by early afternoon this will be a lie) and that I do not need to shave. The following morning, about half the time, I shave again, and half the time I consult my daily calendar and deduce that I have no pressing meeting or entanglement that requires smooth cheeks that day. Occasionally, I actually convince myself that a particular meeting or entanglement requires an unshaved look, though this is usually evidence of a chemical realignment at work in my head, soon to unveil itself as a short-term bout of depression. Once I am passed the third day shaving threshold, the morning shaving rationalization process becomes unwieldy, and predicting what I will do on day four, five, six, and so on becomes about as likely as guessing which direction a drunk will stumble next – it can be done, but without acute understanding of topography, success is primarily determined by luck.

Like I said, I hate shaving, as I hate showering (not being clean, mind you, but the physical act of getting in the shower), vacuuming, eating anything with even marginally fresh or uncooked onions, driving long distances, and math. I occasionally hate people, but not usually for long periods; either my attention is diverted or I rationalize why I should pity them and they become a source of amusement (and, subsequently, more depression).

Before moving on, I feel the need to clarify why I am using inexpensive shaving cream. The cream at hand is Barbasol (soothing aloe, to be precise, of the Beard Buster® variant), and I only bought it because I could not find a bottle of the Colgate (sensitive skin) I had previously used and, actually, enjoyed. I only originally bought that Colgate as a delayed rebuke of my last long-term romantic relationship and its relatively dramatic demise. I say “delayed” because the relationship, such as it was, ended more than three years ago. During the course of this relationship, my then-girlfriend turned me on to the joys of expensive toiletries. Due to the fact(s) that she was (a) the worst kind of nouveau riche southern trash and (b) was tragically attempting to recreate her emotionally unavailable father, she was quite informed on things such as forty-dollar sticks of deodorant and pre-shave oils with essence of sandalwood. Due to the fact(s) that she (a) had a remarkable figure and (b) was, yes, more than a little crazy, I willingly obliged. The additional fact that she paid for these toiletries did not hurt.

After the relationship ended, and the month(s)-long non-shaving malaise that followed also ended, I retained an affection for the luxurious balms, creams, and soaps to which she introduced me. Thankfully, I also retained a cabinet full of her purchases.

Recently, however, the ex has made an altogether uninvited return to my subconscious. In the last month, I have found her invading my dreams (nightmares, really, since I have been on quite the drinking jag lately). I have the horrible anxious churn in my stomach usually reserved for moments when I know I am going to be dumped or, worse, when a girl I have been “seeing” tells me that she’s “late.” (Isn’t it amazing how we bachelors, even when we know exactly what “I’m late” means, always reply, in a husky, near-choked voice, “Late for what?” My only explanation for this is that we cannot possibly think of anything else as our blood drains rapidly from our faces in its race to join our stomachs at our feet.)

Because of her recent return, I chose to abandon the toiletries of the sophisticated set and return to stereotypically humble roots. Thus, I find myself popping the top off the Barbasol, wishing I didn’t have to shave, wondering how much a permanent facial wax would cost, and cursing the fact that my mind wanders like this whenever I have a dull stationary task to perform.

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