I didn’t shave today.
Despite being touted (well, sort of) by one of the largest newspapers in the country as an authority (or at least an enthusiast) on scraping the hairs from one’s face, most days I don’t. It’s not that I think that looking like a hobo is particularly becoming, it’s just that I’m fundamentally a lazy person. And besides — I really don’t feel particularly comfortable applying sharpened steel to my throat while still half-asleep. (I am not a morning person.) Because, as I mentioned more than three years ago (that’s a bit of a surprise), I’m a little old-fashioned: I prefer to use soap, water and a brush made from hairs pulled out of a mustelid — not expensive, heavily (not to mention ‘strangely‘) advertised, chemically-laced goop from a can.
My first brush was an inexpensive plastic thingy; I have no precise memory of where it came from, only that it was cheap. (This was important — at that point in my life money was pretty tight and ‘cheap’ was paramount. Food was budgeted at $20/week, rent at $83/month and badger-hair shaving brushes weren’t even close to being on the radar.(Some still aren’t.) But soap — soap shouldn’t be expensive. Where would I find some?
Bi-Way to the rescue.
Back in the day (most of them vanished by ’01 or so) Bi-Way was a chain of discount department stores in this part of Canada. (How discount? Well, if you were out of clean underwear, under some circumstances it was cheaper to go to the Bi-Way and buy more rather than do laundry. In those days I had a lot of underwear.) Conveniently — if somewhat inexplicably — they also stocked ‘traditional’ shaving gear. This may be where the brush came from. (As I said, I don’t remember.) I don’t remember their price for shaving soap either, just that when you bought it you got change back from your quarter.
So. Brush? Check. Soap? Check. The only thing left was a mug/bowl/thingy-to-hold-the-soap. Purpose-built ones were expensive and the Bi-Way didn’t stock them. What was an unshaven student to do?
I briefly contemplated using my JNET mug, but I drank tea from that mug with a young lady who now lives in Colorado and it didn’t have a lid. (Lids are nice when you’re a maladroit.) So, in keeping with the theme of
frugality stinginess, I looked in the fridge and there it was — a single-serving plastic tub of yogurt. (Fruit-bottomed, but I don’t think that’s particularly important.) It was certainly cheap, it was about the right size, it had a lid and it was sturdy enough to last for a while.
A while. How long is ‘a while?’
Well, I took it out of the fridge over three decades ago. It’s still going strong — or so I thought. Because last year, on a trip to a remote tropical island, I noticed a Problem — there were (admittedly small) cracks on the lid. Oh no — the cheap thing I’ve had for over thirty years and have used, if not daily then at least weekly, was starting to wear out. I wasn’t sure how to react.
My first reaction was concern: “A disaster! Whatever shall I do? That thing has been with me for more than half my life — it’s irreplaceable.” (Indeed it is — contemporary yogurt tubs are significantly flimsier.)
Which brought me to anger — “How dare they make a disposable item that could last half a lifetime?” There in a faded blueberry yogurt cup was a damning indictment of the entirety of contemporary consumer culture. No wonder the world is in such bad shape.
After that was irritation (I did some shopping and these things are way more expensive than you would think.), frustration (Can you believe what they’re charging for shipping?) and maybe even despair (That lid doesn’t even look like it fits all that well.).
My next reaction was, for lack of a better word, guilt — how could I possibly be this concerned about something this trivial?
For not the first time, I have to ask why everything has to be so COMPLICATED.