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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

A Closer Shave






In 9th grade, my parents bought me a small two headed electric razor to help me deal with the unfortunate situation on my upper lip. It worked well enough, but by the end of high school, it was no match for an entire face of patchy fuzz. At the time, the most advanced razor was the newly released Gillette Mach Three, so that’s what I bought (we were still years away from four, never mind five bladed monstrosities). My trusty Mach Three, along with my can of Edge Shave gel with Aloe, served me well all through college. Oh sure, I switched to the Mach Three Turbo blades when they came out, because they were more expensive and so they were clearly better, but other than that, I kept everything else the same. Even after I finished undergrad, I stuck to my routine for years. It was a close enough shave, I didn’t cut my face too badly, and more blades just seemed silly, so why mess with success?

Every day, we are forced to make hundreds if not thousands of decisions just to navigate our lives. So it makes sense that we eliminate some of these by using autopilot. It would be a nightmare if every time we went to the grocery store, we had to seriously consider every breakfast cereal, including the gross ones in the bags on the bottom shelf, or examine all 5,000 of the bottles of shampoo to figure out what would be best for us on that day. Instead, we find brands we like, and stick to them. It’s either Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Garnier or Pantene. For me, what I used to shave was firmly in this category.

Sometimes we do branch out when we sense something will be overwhelmingly awesome, like a taco shell made out of a giant Dorito (due to my strong desire to live to see 30, I haven’t had Taco Bell in a few years, but I can imagine that a Dorito shell would take the familiar meat-beans-cheese combination to a level of gastronomic ecstasy so powerful the flavors would wash over you like a full body orgasm, making you forget, if only for the briefest of moments, that you were eating mechanically separated feed grade cow rectum). But for the most part, we know what we like, and we stick with it, because it’s familiar, and it’s usually pretty good.

But what happens when there’s something better out there, and it’s not Dorito taco shell obvious? I went to buy shaving cream, and my usual can of Edge shave gel had a free Schick disposable razor included. I wasn’t really expecting much of it, because it was a cheap little plastic razor, but I figured I might as well give it a shot, since it would be pretty wasteful to just toss it.

My life changed instantly. That razor was amazing, far better than my technology infused Mach Three Turbo. That rinky dink piece of PVC and steel gave me a better shave than I could ever remember having. I decided I had to investigate further, so I promptly went out and bought a Schick 3 Hydro. It was incredible. I bought ones for my all my friends and family.

However, I couldn’t stop there. After all, how do I know that this was the best I could do? What if there was something even better? As it turns out, there was. My friend Brian sent me a tube of C.O. Bigelow shave cream, based on the famous Proraso shave cream from Italy. It was thick and luxurious, and it made my whole face feel soft and tingly when I was done. I had to go all the way down the rabbit hole now, there was no turning back, so I asked my fiancée for a safety razor. For those not familiar, a safety razor is just a metal handle for holding stainless steel double edged razor blades (the super sharp and dangerous ones that go in those weird metal slots in your medicine cabinet, and was probably what your grandpa used to shave).

I may be at the bottom of the hole now. Shaving with a safety razor is quite the experience. I’ve never cut myself as much, but I’ve also never gotten a better shave. True, if I wanted to reach the top of the Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness, I could try shaving with a straight razor (which is basically just a knife). But at some point, I have to draw the line. It may not be worth it to question everything, always. And, like I said, I want to live to see 30.