I am not a poster child for, um, “looking one’s best.” For one thing, I’m not a child despite a distressing tendency to act like one more than is strictly appropriate. Call it a character flaw. Better start a list. Leave plenty of room.
For another, well, I am kind of a slob. Today, for example, I threw on an old-enough-to-be-comfortable pair of shorts, a camouflage-pattern T-shirt with a Batman logo on it, white cotton socks and extraordinarily beaten-up sneakers. Yesterday was sweat pants, and mismatched (one blue, one white) skateboarding shoes. I have never been on a skateboard in my life.
(Aside: the predilection for white cotton socks is fourfold. For one thing, they’re comfortable. They’re also cheap — I was horrified at the price when Ms. Rose bought some ‘good’ socks for her father (my old chemistry professor). There’s minimal sorting involved after washing; heck, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t sort them at all. Also, when they wear out, usually one can just throw out the single sock that wears out and form a ‘new’ pair from leftovers. So my mismatched shoes may have had mismatched socks — I haven’t the faintest idea.
Anyway, the last-time-but-one that I was a best man, we were all dressed up in our rented monkey suits (and why monkeys, anyway?), ready to go when the groom frowned at me: “Pull up your pants. Let me see your socks.” Apparently one doesn’t wear white socks to a wedding. Who knew?)
This meticulous attention to appearance extends to other aspects of life. I haven’t for example, used the services of a hair manipulation professional for (let me see — what year is it?) thirty-one years. (I used to get it cut by a nice lady named Bonnie. She died some years ago.) And, being male, there’s the thing that we all love so much.
Like virtually everyone else, I don’t really like the process. One solution to this would be, of course, The Beard, but I’m one of those folks for whom it never stops itching. I’ve tried but the longest I ever held out was about six months. It looked awful and itched 86400 seconds a day.
Like many (most? I have no idea) males of my generation, I started shaving using the tools that were advertised constantly in the media — that meant an expensive razor (the race to an infinite number of blades started in 1971 or thereabouts) and a can of some sort of foam or gel or something. Better living through chemistry. Or something. These didn’t, somehow, make shaving as wonderful an experience as the ads would have suggested. (What? Misleading advertising? Say it isn’t so!) Sometime in there, however, a roomie introduced me to something new. Something old. Whatever. Wet shaving using a shaving brush, lots of hot water, and soap.
Testimonials aside, it’s not a religious experience. But it is better than the industry’s recommendation of stuff-in-a-can. Better. And cheaper. (Shaving soap — enough for half a year or so — used to be about a quarter at the BiWay. The BiWay is, of course, long gone but the same soap can still be obtained; these days it’s about $1.79. Thirty years of inflation will do that to you, I guess. Compare to stuff-in-a-can which goes for about four bucks.)
I still, however, shave no more than about twice a week because I still don’t much like it. And I am a slob. Remember that list I had you start.
That’s the background. Fast forward about three decades at which point a large circulation daily newspaper had an article about a new shaving gizmo. I don’t remember all the details but it was an electric gadget that somehow heated a can of stuff-in-a-can to make hot lather in an attempt to simulate some aspects of the Old Tyme experience using… hardware. (It also sort of wasn’t new — my dad had something similar in the 70s. Plus ca change….) The review of this thingy was less than glowing; apparently it wasn’t entirely successful.
Anyway, the article/story/review/whatever included the writer’s email address so being a difficult, annoying and contrary individual I sent him a note. The text of that email is long gone, but essentially I said that if he was looking to simulate the wetshaving experience, well, he might want to consider buying a brush (badger hair of course) instead of an appliance. Just a thought. He responded that there would probably be a followup article of some kind.
Time passed until one day I was sitting eating my bacon and eggs at the Insomniac Capriform Cafe after not shaving when I opened the morning paper and there it was. The followup article. Complete with quotations from shaving experts. Enthusiasts. Aficionados. Including one Rose Glace.
An unenthusiastic enthusiast. An aficionado who prefers not to. An expert who knows nothing.
Sounds about right to me.