Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Of Razors and Vibrators

My razor is made by Gillette and is called a “sensor.” It is the last razor made whose handle is small enough to fit into the cunning little rack that also holds my shaving brush (yes, I am a traditionalist). I love my cunning little rack and would hate to abandon it. All current razors (a/k/a “shaving systems) sold by the major brands have handles fat enough to be employed by a gorilla. Some feature more blades than I can count—four, five, six of them. Advertisers no longer even attempt to provide a rationale as to why anyone needs to shave with five blades. Others have batteries in the handle to make them vibrate as you shave. Again, it is unclear why one would wish to have one’s razor vibrate, anymore than it is clear why one would wish to hold a vibrating toothbrush. Many things today vibrate to no apparent purpose—we have come a long way from the era when the only things that vibrated were vibrators, which clearly are required to vibrate if they are to serve their appointed purpose.

And now a riddle. How is a shaver like a computer printer? Answer: both are sold cheaply because the real products they want to sell are, respectively, blades and ink cartridges. A razor blade is good for about a week, and they are beastly expensive for what they are. So for years I have been purchasing off-brand blades designed to fit my sensor. A bit of research revealed that virtually all of these replacement blades are manufactured by Personna to be sold as “house brands” by various chains. I have purchased most of mine at Fleet Farm, where they are offered as “Good Sense” blades at about half the price charged by Gillette. But they are becoming harder and harder to find as the sensor fades into razor history books. Planned obsolescence is alive and well in the world of shaving—corporate America wants me to shave holding a fat, vibrating handle that will not fit into my cunning little rack.

I offer this rant because this week I was forced to purchase a pack of Gillette blades for the first time in years because I could not find the appropriate Personna blade in two stores that were once reliable sources. The sensor itself disappeared from the shelves many years ago. Clearly the relentless march of shaving progress is not on my side.

I note that there is a modest revival of the classic, straight-edged razor and accompanying strop. Interestingly, it appears to be led by women who are taking a straight razor to their legs. I wish I had learned that skill when I was younger. It is not a skill one should attempt to learn without instruction from a master, and likely not one to take on after the age of sixty. So I will haunt the stores for replacement blades sold as Tri-Flexx, Good Sense or whatever else they may be branded. I may be a dinosaur, but I do not wish to be a gorilla, a gorilla with a vibrating face.


rick in cos said...

John, as you know, you are surely one of my mentors, someone who's sage counsel I take seriously. However, you have it wrong on vibrating things...I leave my blackberry on vibrate permanently, I use a vibrating razor with 5 blades (and look how it makes ME look!), I like sitting in vibrating chairs that make my back feel know, you might find that your whole attitude might improve with some vibration in your life! Keep an open mind.
Hope the recovery continues.

John said...

You may have a point: in the picture of you my dictionary uses to illustrate the term "sucker for new technology" you look very clean-shaven.

Anonymous said...

Funny stuff John. Keep it up. Good vibes here. Hope you are healing well.
Jim H