March 17, 2006

Origins of the close shave

Let's travel back in time, say, 30,000 years or so. I pick this historical time frame because it's from this era, presumably, that we have evidence of the very first shaving razors. For whatever reason, mankind decided that, during this epoch in its evolutionary development, it was high time to divest itself of the annoying beards that had plagued faces for so long.

According to the archeological evidence, the earliest shaving razors so far discovered were made of flint. Flint, of course, was also the rock of choice for making spear and arrow heads. So, it stands to reason that, at some point in our ancestral past, a man picked up a spear or arrow head and decided, for whatever reason, to attack his face with it.

Because I don't like to think that the current multi-million dollar shaving industry was borne from the psychotic actions of some masochistic Neanderthal over 30,000 years ago, I've developed the following alternative theory of how shaving came to be.

THE SCENE: 32,985 B.C. A large camp fire is the centerpiece for a group of about 20 hominids. There is much activity, as the women are skinning a recently-slain mastodon, while the men are hunkered down, fashioning new weapons for the next hunt.

KAROG: Ugh, me eat too much of the great beast me killed. Need nap.

BA-BAR: Beast you killed? You mean beast ME killed!

KAROG: No, Ba-Bar, Maker-Of-Pointy-Stones, I mean beast ME killed!

BA-BAR: Without pointy stones, great beast would have mashed mighty Karog!

KAROG: You dare insult Karog?! You die now!

(a frantic fight ensues, during which Ba-Bar narrowly misses slicing Karog's face, and instead hacks off the entire right side of Karog's beard. All the women suddenly perk up and admire Karog's new look)

LORETTAG: Ooh, me like Karog's face now. Reminds Lorettag of when Karog was young man. Lorettag has new interest in making babies with Karog.

LISAG: Me first!

KAROG: Quick, Ba-Bar, cut hair from other side of face! I give you 25 snail shells if you do good job!

And so Ba-Bar became mankind's very first "barber," and the world hasn't been the same hairy way since.

I myself am particularly in Bar-Bar's debt because, in addition to shaving my face, I also—thanks to a genetic propensity towards premature hair loss—have been shaving my head now for about a decade. What struck me last week, as I wandered the aisles of a local pharmacy, was just how far mankind has advanced from the flint razors of old. I mean, today, shaving is, if the advertising is to be believed, about as exciting and action-packed as a sporting event.

I stood there, confronted by a collection of razors so advanced, I wasn't sure if I was even qualified to use them. There's the Gillette M3 Power Razor, which comes packaged with a battery. Now, maybe I've just been stuck in my Mach 3 rut now for too long, but as awesome as the Mach 3 is when it comes to shaving my head, I've nicked myself enough times to know that I probably don't need electricity coursing through a razor during the shaving process. I think the triple blade is plenty dangerous without a Duracell assist.

And speaking of the triple blade, I noticed that Schick has come out with a four blade razor called the "Quatro," because apparently shaving is all the more hip when it's conducted in Spanish. At any rate, I'd like to think that the oneupsmanship when it comes to adding more blades to a razor is going to end sooner rather than later, maybe around the release of the "Ocho." Because, really, I don't think additional blades actually have that much of an impact, beyond upping your chances of cutting yourself. Actually, I think it's high time we went back to the world of flint razors.

After all, if they were good enough for Ba-Bar, they should be good enough for us.

Now, for no particular reason, here's a list of nonsensical words that make me giggle:

Frugal. Mukluks. Blubber. Gabardine. Eskimo. Whale. Bulbous. Galoshes.
Frugal. Mukluks. Blubber. Gabardine. Eskimo. Whale. Bulbous. Galoshes.
Frugal. Mukluks. Blubber. Gabardine. Eskimo. Whale. Bulbous. Galoshes.

Posted by Ryan at March 17, 2006 04:11 PM | TrackBack

Well, calling a four bladed razor the Four would have sounded just as stupid.

And the "ocho"? I'd hope someone would call it the "oucho" instead.

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at March 18, 2006 01:29 PM

You're behind the times, pal. The Gillette Fusion is now up to five blades (six, if you count the precision trimmer in the back). A couple years ago, the Onion had a story titled something like "Fuck it, we're going to 5 blades," ostensibly written by the CEO of a razor company. The humor was in the premise -- the absurdity of a five-bladed razor was supposed to strike readers as funny. It's no joke anymore.

Posted by: Jmmo at March 20, 2006 11:30 AM

I read that and thought... am I in the archives or something?

Dude... the Quatro has been out for a long time. Gillette has a four-bladed one--with battery or without.

Before the Onion, there was a SNL spoof starring Dan Akroyd back when they all were coming out with two-bladed razors. It was an ad for the Gillette Triple Track ... "Because You'll Believe Anything!!!"

Posted by: Strider at March 20, 2006 12:26 PM

I didn't see any five-bladers while in the pharmacy. Maybe they don't stock them as they go against their moral beliefs, like denying the morning after pill.

Posted by: Ryan at March 20, 2006 01:44 PM
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