Double-edged, from swords to razors — Tanka Today 2015.05.20

(Image credit: Bowfinger26)

an open mouth
exposes secrets
widely prized —

a tremendous risk
for good luck or ill

Beard, beard, beard. What do you do when you have just one word with which to spark a discussion?


I cut off my beard a couple of weeks ago. 

It was glorious. 

Safety Razor Set - A safety razor, shaving bru...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have been trying to get myself into the swing of wet shaving for the past several years, with mixed results. Wet shaving is where you use a safety razor, a brush, and shaving soap to shave; and in case you didn’t know, a safety razor is one old-school tool that holds those double-edged razor blades infamous for being used incorrectly on the wrists. That’s not meant to be funny or anything, though. I totally disapprove of self-destructive acts in general. 

I have been having more success of late, mostly due to the decision that not washing my face prior to shaving was proving detrimental to the experience. I’d end up looking like a crime scene, trying to stanch the blood for what seemed like forever. 

English: Drawing from US patent 775,134 (safet...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I really want to get the hang of this, because in my opinion it’s beneficial on several levels. For one thing, it’s dead cheap. The razor, the brush, and the shaving mug are a relatively small investment over the long term, because they’re more or less permanent. And my razors? They’re antiques. Oldies but goodies from as far back as the 1930’s. I can get new blades for pennies apiece, and each one is good for several shaves. Shaving soap is cheap, too.

And wet shaving is not the same slapdash affair that a plastic razor or some fancy deal with five blades and a vibrating lubricant strip were designed to facilitate; wet shaving is a meditation.

This meditative act — the washing, the lubricating, the lathering, the application of the blade with almost zero pressure in carefully measured short strokes — it all demands a focus, a mindfulness that transcends all the trite little acts that comprise the modern definition of grooming;

wet shaving is its own thing.

And see, I hit upon this realization when I was shaving once prior to shaving off my beard. Attempting to round out my ideas, I texted my friend Zach and asked him for his thoughts on wet shaving. “It’s for a blog post,” I said. “The more abstract the better.” I was dipping into his fountain of experience because I knew he had cracked the code, and he was the only person other than myself that I could draw upon for some reflections regarding the art of wet shaving.

He must have misunderstood me, however, because he came back at me with a sort of how-to — his process of shaving. This is what I mean about meditation, after all: it’s a process and I knew Zach had it down to the letter, but up to then I hadn’t realized how much I didn’t know about the process of wet shaving. Where I had researched, he must have pored over and sifted through the whole Internet. That’s what he does. He had developed his own recipe for shaving oil, for Pete’s sake, and that’s also what he does!

I replied to his email to tell him that I was looking for something more reflective, more abstract. He said he would get back to me, but he hasn’t yet. In the meantime, I did the only thing I could do with what he had sent me:

I shaved off all of my facial hair.

I left my eyebrows, of course, but I got everything else. I followed the spirit of Zach’s how-to to the letter, and afterward I felt just like Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption; like I had just crawled through a river of crapola and came out clean as a whistle on the other side. I had found the missing links in my clumsy attempts to shave vintage-style, and I could practically hear Morgan Freeman narrating my triumph. It doesn’t get any better than that, folks!

Not that I have any problem with beards. I had this Lemmy thing going on for the last couple of years: the muttonchops with the attached moustache. I’d call it the ol’ Burnsides, but it just didn’t get that bushy. I’d love to grow one of those thick, bushy beards, but my hair doesn’t grow like that; it grows straight and is fairly thin. I think I’d do well with a thin beard, but right now I’m sporting what I like to call my “Summer-face”, and it does get people talking at work. I showed up that Monday morning for the department meeting and I could tell when The Sarge saw me that he approved. Everyone had something to say. Joltin’ Joe told me that I had dropped ten years, and I told him I appreciated that, seeing as how I’m pushing forty. Carlos said I was messing with his head; every time he saw me he thought I was a new guy.

But I’m still me.

Still pushing to live my adventure —

Still exploring.


(The One-Minute Writer’s One Word Wednesday: Beard | Header image by Alan Levine)


  1. GAH !! =) Great post, although cannot imagine you without the whiskers… in my mind, the muttonchops crawling up your cheeks are synonymous with the laughter and contemplation you posts elicit… new Rob now… hmm… =)

Feel free to share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s