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That Beastly Morning Ritual : Close Shaves Work Him Into a Lather

June 29, 1989|KEVIN COWHERD | Baltimore Evening Sun

There is a lot of speculation about why men seem so grouchy in the morning, but the answer is pretty obvious.

You would not be in a swell mood, either, if you started each day standing in front of a mirror and raking a cold steel blade across your face and opening jagged gashes and watching the blood flow as if you had just emerged from a knife fight in an alley.

The shaving ritual continues with a splash of some kerosene-like substance over the open wounds, which now burn as if someone had mistaken you for a witness in a big drug case and tossed sulfuric acid in your face to prevent damaging testimony.

It is not exactly like waking up to strawberries and cream, if you catch my drift.

So it is little wonder that so many men begin the day looking to ram their car into the first person who looks at them cross-eyed.

An Unnatural Act

Shaving does that to a man. It is an unnatural act, the scraping of hair follicles off the face, and it pretty much guarantees that you won't sail into work with a smile and a box of Dunkin' Donuts for everyone.

I started shaving at the age of 16 and have been in a horrible mood ever since.

One day, I noticed tiny whiskers on my chin, which excited me so much that I began to turn somersaults, as it meant I was one step closer to manhood and my ultimate goal: not having to mow the lawn.

Looking back on it now, I should have draped myself in black and gone into mourning.

That is how much I hate shaving. It would be one thing if you could shave once a month and be done with it. But this nonsense about shaving every day gets old, and makes you think that guys like Rutherford B. Hayes or Rip van Winkle had the right idea.

Men have been shaving since the beginning of time, which accounts for a good deal of their moodiness throughout history, as well as for various wars, revolutions, political upheavals and the like.

I don't claim to have researched the Spanish Inquisition, but you can pretty much bet it started when Ferdinand V cut himself shaving that morning, arrived in the courtyard in a foul mood and said: "Boys, time to warm up the ol' rack. Uncle Ferdie is not a happy camper."

Next thing you knew, it was standing room only in every dungeon across the land. Believe me, if Ferdie hadn't sliced himself with that Bic, you would be looking at 200 years of Spanish civic tranquility.

It was the same thing with World War I, or so I hear.

This guy who pulled the trigger on the Austrian crown prince in Sarajevo? If his day doesn't get off to a bad start with razor nicks and all that tissue paper stuck to his face, he doesn't fly off the handle and grab a gun. It's as simple as that.

A Guy Who Had Had It

They tried to paint that assassin as some fanatical, Serbian nationalist, when actually he was just another guy fed up with catching his Adam's apple with a Remington Super II.

The thing about shaving is that it is a dangerous operation that should not be performed upon first awakening, when the senses are still dull from sleep.

Let's face it, heart surgeons don't roll out of bed and grab a bone saw and start in on a triple-bypass operation in their pajamas.

It's the same with shaving. It should not be attempted until one has slammed back six or seven cups of strong coffee, and then only after a will has been made out in the presence of an attorney.

I say this because whether you use the Gillette this or Schick that, you end up cutting yourself somewhere along the line, often so severely that passers-by will begin shrieking for someone to dial 911, fearing that a psycho with a chain saw is on the loose.

Women don't know how lucky they are when it comes to shaving. They complain about having to shave their legs a couple of times a week, but what is the big deal here?

So what if you cut your legs? Throw on a pair of Green Bay Packer sweat pants or go-go boots, and no one will be the wiser.

Evidence of Tong War

Whereas if a man walks around with cuts all over his face, it's assumed that he has been involved in the recent Tong War between the Flying Dragons and the Ghost Shadows, and therefore exercises extremely poor judgment in his choice of friends.

I myself have a particular shaving problem with a mustache that must be negotiated by the razor each morning.

This mustache and I have been together since 1971. I shaved if off once in '76, but as I emerged from the bathroom my wife began screaming hysterically, somehow becoming convinced that she was now living with Ernest Borgnine.

So I grew that sucker back quick, and have no plans to shave it unless they plan a remake of "McHale's Navy" and Borgnine begs out of the project.

Even then, we'd have to talk money first.

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