Modern technology has made so many wondrous gadgets possible that inventors must stay up nights thinking up new ones they can sell us.
Recently, through one of those mail-order catalogues that list these things, I bought a wristband digital pulse taker. It had a face like a watch, with a digital display that was supposed to show your pulse rate.
It didn't work for me. According to the display, my pulse would jump from 44 to 168, which I knew it wasn't doing.
Oddly, it worked for my wife. I assumed there was something wrong with my electronic system, not with the gadget's.
You can also get a bathroom scales that talks , telling you not only how much you weigh, but how much you've gained since the last time you weighed. Who needs that?
There is a "Navigator" watch that does everything but ring three bells when you sight land.
You can get packages no larger than a lunch pail that have a clock-radio and a 4 1/2-inch television screen.
You can get a portable videocassette player that runs on two small batteries and can be used in the back seat of your limousine to make video sales presentations to customers. Or you can watch a replay of the 1981 Super Bowl on your way to the airport.
But the ultimate in ingenious devices is one shown in a catalogue sent to me by Bob Gentry of Sun Valley. His only comment was "Signs of the times! Can you believe this?"
The catalogue was called "Sync: The Synchronics Catalogue: Ingenious products in sync with the times."
The item Gentry had circled was an ingenious new electric razor for men. The blurb began: "Today's unshaven look--every day!"
What this battery-powered razor does, it shaves a man so lightly that he always appears to have a one-day's growth of beard.
I had no idea a one-day growth of beard was fashionable until I read on:
"You see them on TV every Friday night--the super-cool cops with the look that's just started a new fashion rage! But that's just television--how can you keep that terrific one-day shadow every day in real life?"
This razor can not only give you that fabulous one-day growth of beard look, but also, if you want to look even scuzzier, you can put on an alternate trimming head that will leave you with a five -day growth.
"At last," the blurb concludes, "you can shave every day--without looking like you've shaved at all--while keeping that stubble well-groomed. . . . It's the shaver that leaves behind just enough . . . to let you keep that Miami look. . . ."
I had no idea that the stubble look was in style, not watching "Miami Vice" that often. If it is the dernier cri in men's looks, though, this new razor will certainly be a boon.
I have often wondered how certain men managed to look as if they had a one-day stubble every day. I see derelict men on Spring Street who never look clean-shaven, but who never have a beard, either. Somehow they maintain that stubble.
I have often wondered how they deal with this problem in the movies. You see characters who have what appears to be a one-day stubble--no more, no less. How do they achieve that over a shooting period of several weeks?
Ray Milland always seemed to have a one-day growth as the alcoholic in "The Lost Weekend." Did he shave every two days and skip a day to shoot a scene?
Humphrey Bogart often had a one-day stubble. As Duke Mantee, the gangster in "The Petrified Forest," he looked unshaved throughout. How did he manage without Sync's model No. G952424?
Ironically, before "Miami Vice," the unshaved look was avoided by every well-groomed man. It was called "5 o'clock shadow," and razor and shaving-cream manufacturers spent millions on advertising campaigns admonishing men to avoid it by using their products.
I have no doubt that 5 o'clock shadow cost Richard M. Nixon the presidency of the United States in his first bid for it. In that fateful debate with John F. Kennedy he looked exactly like a cop in "Miami Vice." It may be OK for a cop to have a one-day stubble, but not the President of the United States.
You may have noticed that ever after that debacle in the Kennedy debate, Nixon evidently got a close shave just before going on TV. Even in his haggard last days in the White House he seemed to have licked 5 o'clock shadow, if not Watergate.
The only time I ever have a stubble is on Monday mornings, since I sometimes don't shave on Saturdays and Sundays. But when I look in the mirror I don't see a macho TV star.
I see an old geezer who looks as if he's down on his luck.
I think I can get by without G952424.