Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I'm 54 today.

It's just another day - I was up in the West Hills drilling a soil boring this morning, stopped by the shop around noon (I did treat myself to a sushi stop for lunch...) and then legged it across the street to drop in on of our construction projects for a check. At the moment I'm taking a break from writing up a soils report to post this.

I'll be back later tonight with some more reflections on twoscore-years-and-fourteen, but right at the moment, thinking back over the people I've been and the place I've gone, y'know what I was reminiscing about?

Straight razors.

It started with a brief visit to my friends Maia and Q here, where our heroine and her husband Mike visit an old-school barber shop in their home in Colorado. As part of the treatment the barber gets out the straight razor to shave Mike, and I was instantly transported back to the Division barbershop on Ardennes Street back in the Eighties.Because back in the day I still had hair, and I got a big kick out of getting a flat-top #1 cut that made me look the spit of my old man in his Navy crackerjacks back in 1944. And the best part of the whole gig was the big finish, where the grouchy old Army barber got out the shaving gear.

He would heat up the lather and strop the straight razor, and then it was all hot shave cream from ear to ear and down the back of my neck.

But before I could relax into the smooth heat he was there with the blade.

There was always something electrifying about the kiss of cold steel along the back of my neck. Maybe it was just the zing of cold after heat...or maybe it was knowing that one slip and things would get messy real quick. But I loved the clean feeling it produced, laying my nape and sidewalls down to the skin.

He never did slip, and I always tipped him high and walked out feeling like a real hard boy with my beret pulled down to show off the high whitewalls.

Well, time and genes have combined to give me whitewalls all the way up, these days. And I do my own trimming at home with an electric razor. I never found a barber outside the service who used the old straight blade after I left the active service. One of the barbers trimming my kiddo's hair told me that it's now against most state regulations, what with fears of AIDS and other blood-borne diseases.

Too bad.

Funny, all the things you do and those you enjoy; the cold steel shave up the back of the neck would seem to be an odd thing to miss. And yet, of all things, I do.

No comments:

Post a Comment