The dan­gers of un­der-aged shav­ing

The Covington News - - Front page -

Re­cently, my youngest son looked at me, rubbed his face and said, “I need to start shav­ing.” I tried not to snicker, but then he’s only 11 years old. While he might have a whisker or two hid­ing on his face, there’s no way he’s ready for a sharp blade and a hand­ful of foam. Be­sides, I re­mem­ber all too well what it was like when I took up shav­ing at the an­cient age of 14. He’s way too young for that kind of car­nage and blood loss.

Like most male chil­dren of the ’60s, I had a toy plas­tic ra­zor that came with card­board blades, but as for real-world ra­zor train­ing, I had none. When I was four­teen, I de­cided it was time to clear out a few imag­i­nary whiskers. I had ac­cess to shav­ing cream, but back then, house­holds didn’t have big bags of dis­pos­able ra­zors just sit­ting around for any­one to grab. Typ­i­cally, a fam­ily had just one ra­zor: dad’s metal-jawed mon­stros­ity. So, I de­cided to bor­row his ra­zor han­dle. I loaded up a clean, fresh blade just like I used to do with my card­board ones, lath­ered my face, took a few strokes, and pretty much ripped my cheeks to shreds in a painful and brightly-col­ored wel­come to adult­hood.

Af­ter I stopped most of the se­ri­ous bleed­ing, I asked my dad if it was nor­mal to re­move chunks of flesh along with the whiskers. He looked at me and then at his ra­zor. Then he looked at his ra­zor again. He told me that a metal blade — un­like a card­board one — has to be curved by the ra­zor’s jaws. Had I tight­ened it prop­erly, I would’ve had a clean, safe shave in­stead of a dance with Death. Les­son learned. In fact, I learned sev­eral other lessons that day. I learned to keep other peo­ple’s sharp metal ob­jects away from my body. I learned that dried blood is hard to get off Formica counter tops. And most im­por­tantly, I learned that I hated shav­ing. I still hate shav­ing, and ev­ery time I slice my ear or lip or eye­lid with an er­rant ra­zor stroke, I re­mem­ber the pain of that first bru­tal hatchet job. And when my son is truly ready to shave, I’ll teach him what I know, in­clud­ing a healthy re­spect for sharp metal blades. It’s good to pass on fa­therly ad­vice, es­pe­cially where blood and Formica are in­volved.

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