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April 22, 2014

RONN MOTT: Shave

I recently saw a television pitch man explain the virtues of the single blade in what appeared to be an old-fashioned safety razor. He was explaining we didn’t need three blades in a razor, or five, or six, and how many more are we going to get with the razor to get that perfect shave? He urged us to use only one.

I brought this up because I just received a blade that would fit my razor and instead of the three blades I have been using, this one had five. So I chuckled as I watched the pitch man saying we only need one.

It took me back to my first few times I shaved. I was 19 years old, in the bathroom with my safety razor from Gillette, and what Gillette was calling the Super Blue Blade, which was at the time its newest and sharpest innovation. Standing there with shaving cream on my face and my razor in my hand, I felt very grown up.

My dad walked in and asked me what I was doing. I told him I was shaving. He said, “Oh my God, don’t you know if you start shaving now you will have to do it for the rest of your life? Think about that … every day of your life, or almost every day of your life.” But in my hurry to be an adult, I went ahead and shaved.

When I got in the Air Force they handed us the razor we would have to use, and the blades we would have to use, and the shaving cream we would have to use. We would not get to make a decision about these things until we finished basic training. Sometime between active duty station and release from the Air Force, I discovered Wilkinson steel blades. They had made swords for the English Cavalry and the officer corps, so paring down to blades that would be used for shaving wasn’t too big a stretch, or too large a miniaturization.

It wasn’t long after discovering the British blades that American companies began putting out steel blades. And, of course, I had to try them.

Well, it wasn’t long before we were into double blades, triple blades, and shaving cream in cans that squirted out, and then we had shaving gel. Each innovation made shaving a little easier.

It brings me back to the five-blade razor I received as a sample and am currently using. It certainly shaves smoothly, but I’m sure they will not be cheaper than my three-bladed razor. The manufacturers of razor blades have surely not lost any money making the multiple-bladed razors.

So now that I’ve taken a little trip into my shaving past, I think I’ll go back to my three-bladed razor and smile as I remember my grandfather shaving with a straight razor and shaving only occasionally rather than every day. Since I’m not wearing a suit and tie every day in my small efforts, I don’t shave every day. And if my father were here, I would tell him he was right.

I’m really glad I don’t have to “strap” my razor against the long strip of leather that hung beside the wash basin at my grandfather’s farm … even happier I don’t have to shave with that straight razor.

The engineers and God are the only ones that know for certain what lies ahead for we men who shave.

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.

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