Daze of My Life/Shearly You Jest

by Kenneth B. Lourie

The non-electric-shaving business is getting completely out of hand, almost literally. In some models available for sale, four blades in a row now make up the razorís head. In fact, the razors are getting so top-heavy with tungsten that, even though close shaving may now require only one swipe across your cheek (or scalp or wherever), with or against the grain, it may however, require two hands with which to do it.

What happened to simply improving the quality of the individual blade?

Attaching one, two or even three more blades may simply be adding insult to injury. Give me four bites at the apple and Iím likely to succeed as well. But you canít give me five or six, can you? At what numerical point does it behoove the manufacturers to stop not improving imperfection and instead sharpen their focus and provide a single blade to be proud of, rather than stack a four-pack (of blades) to sequentially cut all follicles in its swath? The most expensive knives and swords desired by professionals and collectors typically feature only one super-quality blade, not a family of mediocre blades arranged closely together for maximum cutting convenience.

For many of us unbearded, unmustached, ďunalasedĒ and bald by choice, shaving is the bane of our everyday existence. As such we are forever looking for an answer to avoid the shaving nicks, cuts and bruises that inevitably appear after our daily grind, regardless of whether the damage inflicted occurred before or after we bathed. Moreover, finding the perfect, pain-free shave would certainly alleviate what for many is a rather dreaded early-morning routine.

If I had one hundred wishes - meaning I had a few to waste - I would wish that I would never have to shave again, and not because I was dead or diseased.(You can tell I grew up watching ďThe Twilight Zone.Ē)

Itís not that I hate shaving so much as it is that I hate bleeding so much. Iíd really rather not have to see my face in the bathroom mirror every day dotted with little pieces of toilet/tissue paper strategically stuck to stop and then scab the bleeding, so that hopefully, at some point during my 60-minute commute to McLean, I can safely remove the stickers and not see red. Then I could breathe easier knowing that I avoided yet another potential shaving embarrassment, humbled, however, by the harsh reality that 24 hours later Iíll likely be enduring the same stress as I wake up to face yet another stubble that as usual will be trouble.

But four blades? It seems like only yesterday razors had one blade. Then the marketing/manufacturing light went on somewhere, and a second blade was designed in, along with comfort, conditioning and lubricating strips to soften the scrape. Time definitely passed before the decision was made to add a third blade, but after a relatively short interval, or so it seemed, a fourth blade was added to cut those follicles down to the quick, in a hurry, in one stroke.

I imagine the follicle doesnít stand a chance now, but if four blades in a row eventually canít cut the mustard, so to speak, it seems silly to add a fifth blade. To me, that fourth blade represents a slippery slope of sorts, a descent into shaving hell, where improving the quality of the blade is no longer the goal, but rather the obstacle.

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.