Not long ago I decided to modify my shaving routine by switching to a straight razor. There isn’t a logical reason for this, unless it might be using slightly less electricity in a day. Saving money was not my motivation for this change, though, so I wondered for a while why I should do this.
I have long been fascinated with bladed tools and weapons. The razor, with its folding hinged body, was no exception. The thought of having a tool that was precisely razor sharp was very appealing. When I handled them, their weight balanced so finely, they just felt like instruments with purpose. They reminded me of heavy fountain pens, just tooled for a different purpose.
I only recently had my first proper straight-razor shave given to me by a barber. It was relaxing, but also a bit less impressive than I expected. I thought at the time that I could probably do better on my own. And with the electric razor and the disposable plastic razors I had been using to finish with, the chore was acceptable. Why change a good thing?
Going back to a tool that has been successfully replaced? Would I also stop driving in favor of a bike, or maybe a horse? Well, I guess it would depend on the distances involved, but I’ll consider that option later. The shaving switch is more about appreciating the artistry and history of the tools involved. I don’t want to go back to sharpened clam shells, but holding the straight razor feels like I am closer with the unending fraternity of stubble. I can picture my heroes from the past holding a razor quite similar to mine. I also know that tossing hundreds of plastic razors into the environmental pit of despair is no good.
Now I will stand in front of a mirror and brandish a respectable and reusable instrument to take part in the ancient chore. It is riskier, and requires a steady hand. I like the idea that there is more skill involved. Maybe I will grow tired of it after a time, but I think as long as I get to become more thoughtful about a mundane task, I will be pleased to keep it going.