There’s no denying what a torture chamber the modern bathroom can be.
Hold the psychologist jokes and copies of Everybody Poops. I’m talking about brows we tweeze and wince; the scraps of plastic we pluck onto our irises; teeth of combs digging into our scalps; the blemishes you’re not supposed to squeeze; soap in our damn eyes, man.
My least favorite, the series of razor blades, a precise little potato peeler, dragged across the skin and the little cuts and gouges we greet with mock surprise.
How did that happen?
Everybody Shaves Something is an anxiety-saving book I wish existed. It would follow a puberty-age figure with a branded name and have pictures of their journey discovering proper maintenance of various hairy parts of the teen body. If Gillette bites, we’ll go with Gil for a name.
In my Coming of Age, Sex Ed pamphlets did the job summing up condom use and basic anatomy, but not really how to avoid the kind of embarrassing razor burn that delays plans of inviting anyone from taking a closer look.
Maybe our friend Gil would spend a page or two advising on the mainstream standards of beauty that promotes the idea that hairless equals desirable, but that wouldn’t be very good for razor sales.
The hashtag #beardporn is a thing and only the tip of beard-related obsession…
There are undoubtedly some skills that carry over from learning to shave the face, but that’s assuming you ever learned that properly. My dad was generally getting high or watching professional wrestling when he wasn’t at work. And really, to this day I still feel too awkward when I’m in the bathroom with anyone else to breathe more than an, “excuse me….” before darting out with wet fingers.
I imagine that other’s experience starts over a Sunday morning breakfast, a square-jawed and perfectly-shaven father notices my light stubble saying something like, “why, Eric, you’re becoming a man before our very eyes!” Flash to a white and blue-tiled room, equipped with razors, creams and lotions; little bubbles of advice floating over my shoulder.
“You don’t need to run the water the whole time.” “With the grain first, son.”
That’s the advice I got from commercials and the internet. A few drinks at night with friends that grew up poor, with a single or divorced parent generally has this effect of self-raising. When my parents were not at work, they were relaxing or hustling the shopping and gifting to keep three kids well enough so that other people mind their own business. Sometimes I wonder if there’s a glow of understanding that draws me to scrappy friends like me that taught ourselves to drive, pay bills and express ourselves only when plied with substances.
Luckily for a good number of my friends, recently hairyness is next to godliness. You can order a mustached dildo if that’s your thing, the hashtag #beardporn is a thing and only the tip of beard-related obsession. In this market, a desperately sweating and suddenly hip Gil starts pushing pomade and beard soap.
There are definitely other shaving dudes out there, but I’m not friends with those type of guys: dudes with MBAs, accountants and dudes that work in finance. I’ve fallen in with friends that generally have tech jobs, student debt and interesting hobbies.
It’s a sign of the changing times, and I’m in favor of it. Ideally, there are less ideals that support systemic oppression out there influencing these standards. There was a time when my friend John, whose long hair and chest-length, curly beard would never have gotten a professional gig. Finally, it seems like what you can do might matter a little more than what you look like.
Being white still helps a lot.
The climate is now more Not Everybody Needs to Shave Something. Gil promotes different facial hair styles and cautions against the neck beard. He tells knowingly of trimming armpit hair to ease in applying deodorant; how a little shave below should always involve every shaving product available, that fucking capitalist. Almost alone, I’ll be buying in as my friends grow out their facial freedom.
Somewhere, a group of grumpy elders gather in arm chairs, regretfully discussing how they failed a generation due to someone unknown loss of power.
“All it used to take was a, “get a job, hippie” but now… I don’t know…”
They don’t know, which is why the headlines keep coming up announcing the end of the bearded era. Like computers and internet being a phase, like pants for ladies or being gay.
Sorry, facial hair is here to stay…. even if I can’t grow much myself.