The Gay Blade

There are two types of men in the world: those who buy electric razors, and those who actually need to shave.

Here’s what happens to me when I use an electric razor. I plug it in, and turn it on. I hold it up to my beard and move it around. Nothing happens. I move it around some more, and apply a little pressure. I can hear the tips of some of my hairs being trimmed, but nothing else happens. I rub it around my face and neck really hard. Now I still have a full beard, but in addition, my neck is all red and bumpy. I have managed to get razorburn without actually managing to shave any hair off.

So for many years, I have made do with shower-shaving: I keep a Gilette Sensor (or Mach 3) in the shower, and shave there. This didn’t give me a terribly good shave, but it was better than nothing.

Now, I have a better way of shaving. It has just one minor problem: it’s making me feel really, really gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! The better way of shaving is by using a shaving brush, good shaving cream, and a double-edged razor. This sort of shaving did not used to be considered terribly homosexual. That it is, today, can be laid at the feet of one man: Corey Greenberg, of the impressively obsessive-compulsive ShaveBlog.

Corey is straight as an arrow, but he has made shaving queer by consistently, over a period of many months, writing paragraphs like this:

Despite the Wee Scot’s diminutive size, its bristles splay out to a surprisingly wide spread when you mash this brush against your puss, and the exquisite lather just keeps coming and coming.

Rest assured, I’m not picking out an isolated example. Everything the man writes is like this:

So I soaked my…badger brush in hot water, gave it a little shake to reduce the water it held to just the right amount, and swirled the tips in the Nancy Boy’s glistening white cream.

Shaving, even real shaving, was not always this way. The closest shave I ever got was from a barber who ran the local Calabresi numbers game. You don’t know trust until you’ve let a man hold a straight razor to your throat. That’s the hidden culture of barbers: these are the people men trust to do these things. There aren’t many real barbers left any more. The ladies at Supercuts are plenty nice, but I wouldn’t trust them to shave me any more than they’d trust me to do the flower arrangements for their weddings.

The other fascinating thing about the shavegeeks that Corey represents is that they are a mixture of the masculine and the feminine. They take what is an essentially feminine activity (and please, don’t argue with me about this – if you’re spending hours agonizing over whether the proportions of lanolin to aloe are right in some unguent, you might as well be wearing a dress) and bring to it the very male techniques of obsessively cataloging, collecting, and comparing. Remember what psu was saying about men obsessively measuring their TVs and stereos and comparing them? The shavegeeks are doing the same thing, only they’re comparing the loft and thickness of badger brushes, or the firmness of silvertip hairs to best badger, or they’re doing comparative surveys of razor blades and shaving soaps.

Please, God of the ancients. God of my people. God of the high places and low, hear my prayer. I am very, very happy that I have found a way to get a better shave. But please deliver me from obsession. Deliver me from becoming a shavegeek.

My friend Faisal is well down the road to shave- geekdom, and I have made no bones about ribbing him mercilessly about it. “Hey,” I’ll say to him in an instant message. “I just had a really homosexual shave.” I’m pretty sure he is sick enough of me saying this that he’s ready to choke me to death if I do it to him again.

But although he may try to reframe it as being “Euro,” there is no escaping it. Shaving this way, today, is very, very gay.

And that’s OK. Let a million pansies flowers bloom. The fact is, I am getting a closer shave than I ever have in my entire life. I don’t have razorburn anymore. And massaging my face with the stupid badger brush feels nice. So if that means I am letting a little gayness into my life, without obsessing about it too much, I’m OK with that. Perhaps it means I can’t go to Monster Truck Rallies, or something. I could live with that.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go play some more Shadow Hearts. I think I’m close to finding another Stud Card!

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