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Friday, July 08, 2016

The Art of Shaving



Whether a man is a rapacious glutton or a Sufi hermit, he is essentially a slave to his desires. He overindulges in carnal delights on one hand or in abstinence on the other to satiate his physiological drives or his spiritual compulsions. Being but moderate in my pursuit of revelry and a devout secular humanist, I heed idiosyncratic thrills with pious abundance. Come evening, for instance, I smoke one roll of tobacco that costs next to nothing to buy but days and weeks to acquire and cure. I light it with reverence and draw its smoke between sips of amber Scotch, which I can’t, for the life of me, imbibe unless poured in a specific glass that I call Véra. Such is the case with shaving. For ten minutes every other morning, I have elevated the elimination of my facial hair, save for my mustache, to a hedonistic feast of self indulgence.

I like growing a beard. In fact, I wore one for years. Had it not been for the indescribable joy shaving brings me I would’ve kept my beard forever. Perhaps my mustache is my way of rebelling against ephemeral fashion.

I feel sorry for the poor sods who hate shaving but have to. I would hate it too if I had to use disposable razors and gas-propelled foam out of canisters. Ewww... No way! I have turned a dreaded chore into a zen moment of aloof extravagance.

I’ve used every conceivable blade on my face, disposable Bic shavers, electric, wet, dry, three in a row, and five in a row, to name but a few. I shaved in the shower and out in the field. Gosh, I shaved whilst floating in a river once, but that’s another story. After close to 6,000 shaves by my count, I couldn’t find anything that comes close to using an old Merkur Classic razor, a boar hair brush, a stainless-steel bowl and a tube of Hamol shaving cream. Sure, many a shaving enthusiast might dismiss my choice of boar hair for a brush instead of a badger’s as that of a boor. I look at it differently, however. I strive to possess the highest quality tools I can afford. I can conveniently buy the best boar brush in the world but only a mediocre pure badger’s. The same is true about my possession of a German Merkur razor instead of a Japanese Feather. I do use Feather Doubled-Edged razor blades almost exclusively, though. The almost is dictated by the fact that I’m not allowed to pack double-edged blades in a carry-on when I choose to fly light.

Running a blade across one’s face is a most intimate affair for a man. I seek solitude, like a Sufi mystic, and pamper myself to unabashed excess, like a lascivious rogue, or gentleman, depending on the observer. I have to yet fulfill my ultimate shaving fantasy, though, a mysterious woman giving me a close shave with a straight razor on the morning after.

6 comments:

Isobel Adams said...

If anyone can make shaving sound like a zen experience, it's you! As for shaving facial hair, I cannot comment. Fortunately it's not a necessity for me. Never thought I'd say this but...enjoy today's shave. :)

Ingrid McCarthy said...

I've often thanked the powers that be for having turned me into a woman for the thought of shaving my face on a near daily basis appears to me a "cursed" task that I would certainly not have enjoyed. And, doesn't a beard make your skin itch? Yes, we women talk about the "monthly curse" even about the pain of bearing a child, but sprouting facial hair and shaving it off would have been a proverbial pain in the derrière; unless the exercise is turned into a ceremonial moment with oneself the way you have mastered it. It sounds almost romantic.
As for a close shave from a female hand the morning after, I keep my fingers crossed that should it ever happen, you will never find that blade held against your throat.

abufares tartoussi said...

@Isobel
It's no secret that I love shaving :-) The blade, lurking micrometers away from the skin, presents a level of intimacy unknown in any other form of grooming or personal hygiene. To "improve" on the act, to make it faster is an American invention akin to fast food. It's as if shaving and eating are a total waste of time. Why? So we can get to work faster and stay there longer? I thoroughly enjoy my ritualistic approach to shaving. Sometimes when I'm traveling I can't afford the luxury not for lack of time but rather of space. I try to be as light as possible but you should see my toiletry bag(s). They take more space than my clothes. And I'm forced to leave my Safety Razor behind because the DE blades are not allowed in carry-ons.
And, I didn't think you have any problem with facial hair, lol.
It's so nice to see you here again. You've been greatly missed.

abufares tartoussi said...

@Ingrid
I thank the powers that be for blessing us, poor men, with women. It would've been a barren life if not for the smoothness of your skin and the roundness of your curves :-)
As for my fantasy, notice that I specified a straight razor, which I don't dare use myself, as a sign of utmost intimacy and trust. The term "mysterious woman" shouldn't be interpreted as to imply an unknown, or new, woman. The essence of womanhood is that flair of mystery, when she doesn't know what she actually wants, or if she does, she makes sure her man has to figure it out for himself.

Gabriela said...

You've made me think of my dad. He was a TV anchorman who presented the news at night and he had to shave twice a day. And he would never shave recklessley, he spend his time doing so. He had to look perfect to place himself in front of a camera. His shaving was like a daily evening ritual.
Thanks for bringing him back to me today!

Abufares said...

@Gabriela I'm happy I brought you back memories of your dad. As a child, I watched with awe my dad shaving. He took his time, despite of his busy schedule, and conjured the most formidable lather. I think I've been greatly influenced by his technique although I'd like to think that I've improved on it ��
I'm always thrilled to see you here.