Tuesday, October 04, 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.


Ael said...


Getting older sure beats the alternative.

Lisa said...

A belated Happy Birthday, Chief.

In an odd convergence, I have been having imagery of razors over the past couple of days (fret not that there's anything darker afoot.) Just that -- the scenes from The Wall, Fatal Attraction, ... just knives and razors.

Interesting to find the same imagery here. So this has happened twice now -- the stark birds and razors! How to account for it? Hopefully, I can release the sharp images, now. A walk in the park today should do it :)

FDChief said...

Ael: There's an aphorism that talks about how when we're young we imagine that we will choose death before dishonor and that when we're old we're left either dead or forsworn.

I will gleefully choose dishonor and continue looking for the "reset" button.

Lisa: How...odd. I hope the walk in the park cleared the fumes of sharp edges and dark wings from your brain.

On the other hand, I fail to see how a lady could NOT keep seeing razor images, given the way that we as a society insist that you shear yourselves. So much to shave that the notion of razors would haunt me, too...

"The job should be done at once," said Lamont, "and the razor's the boy to do it."

- from "At Swim Two Bords" by Flann O'Brien

FDChief said...

Birds, not Bords. Gah.

Lisa said...


Yes, we are directed to depilate ourselves, lest we be confused with the spear side (bad enough, virilescence comes soon enough, for most.)

It is just odd, as I rarely have such distinct imagery come to mind: birds, clean windows, sharp edges, like when one opens a can. Maybe that's it ... fall's gotten to me, and I am insisting on some new opening, new flight, perhaps.

(As an aside, my wd. verification is "shias" -- I wonder if their women epilate?)

FDChief said...

Lisa: The strange thing is that many of the most virile warrior societies in history were clean-shaven to a degree. I've always wondered at the Western horror in a woman's growth of hair. A female without bodily hair is...well, an adolescent. Are we trying to force you to simulate juvenality? And...why? Who on earth would want a callow girl rather than a woman of parts?

I don't get my own culture sometimes.

In re: the women of the Islamic world...my understanding is that many of the urban Muslim gals are quite elegant under the requisite drapery. But I suspect that their country gals are pretty unkempt. But under the layers...who can tell?

Lisa said...

Interesting re. the clean-shaven nature of past warrior societies. I imagine such upkeep denotes a sense of pride and preparation. Also control, in that we can keep at bay that which we choose.

This whole Brazilian wax thing eludes me, though. I mean, I think it's polite if one is going to a public rec site not to have hair pouffing out of one's scanties, but shy of that . . . it just gets prickly unless one is after it constantly, and isn't that more effort than is needed? Plus, I do not find the thought of a cleanly-shaven male pubis the least bit interesting. Clean is very nice, but shaven? Pushing the limits of metrosexuality, there, boys.

Denuding ourselves is being complicit with objectifying media. As well, there must be an aspect of infantilization. Technically illegal, but I guess one can fantasize.

Now, as to how that jibes with artificial D-size boobies I have no idea. Schizophrenic, no?!? Freakish, IMHO, actually.

Thank you for, despite your considerable refinement, sharing the ultimate male thought: What matters it under the covers :)