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Shaving in the streets

November 11, 1998

I once had a chat with a fellow who worked for a candy bar company who told me how the manufacturer was able to consistently raise the price without making it seem as if prices were being raised.

It worked on a three-year cycle. Every year, the bar would be downsized slightly. Then once every three years, with great fanfare, the company would announce a "new bigger size" at a slightly higher price. In reality though, the bar would be the same size it had originally been three years before. So each year the company would make more money off the same product than it had the year before.

That story sounded just entertaining enough for me to want it to be true, which it may or may not be. And it put me on the watch for other suspicious corporate moves, and I think I may be on to one with a new razor on the market.

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For about two years now, I've become increasingly convinced that one razor company has been making their razor blades duller and duller.

I've come to this conclusion scientifically, based on the volume of facial blood that winds up in the sink after every shave. It used to be that I could use a blade for a couple weeks before its edge would be worn down to the rough equivalent of a carrot scrapper and would succeed in conquering a hair only by catching one in a rusty pit in the metal somewhere and pulling it out by the roots.

But I've noticed over the past 12-18 months that blades are coming out of the packaging much closer in sharpness to the carrot scraper model than the razor model.

My theory is that this company has been "dulling down" its regular model blades over the past year, so it will seem as if the new razor is really great - when actually it's just the same old (sharp) blades they used to sell.

I'm further suspicious because of the hyper marketing. The new razor, according to this company, is "the first triple-blade razor, is the most technologically advanced shaving system in our history."

At 7 a.m. I don't want a shaving system, I want a razor. I don't want technologically advanced, I want sharp. I don't care if it can put a satellite into orbit around Jupiter's third moon, just let it cut stubble.

Look, there is nothing romantic, technological or metaphysical about a stupid razor blade. I don't care that it has "three independently suspended blades, each equipped with patented comfort edges, that give you the cleanest and smoothest shave you've ever experienced. Not only will your shave be more comfortable, you'll also be able to shave closer in fewer strokes with less skin irritation - especially in the sensitive neck area.''

Sensitive neck area? What do I look like, a Florida wetland? This company goes on to mention other attributes of its glorified linoleum knife, including, I swear, "Single-point cartridge docking for easy loading."

What the...? Is that supposed to mean anything? It sounds as if maybe we can shave and shoot rats at the same time.

Then we have the lubricating strip to let you know when you're no longer experiencing the optimal shave. Sort of like a gas gauge for your razor, I suppose. I've never liked those lubricating strips anyway. A slimy film of primordial ooze on your face before coffee just isn't my idea of something a civilized society should promote.

And finally, what good is all this technology without an "Open cartridge architecture for easy rinsing" and an "Ergonomic handle design for improved handling."

Sorry. Not good enough. I want eight blades in a 289 aluminum Shelby Cobra block with a rack and pinion handle, Fulie heads and a Hurst on the floor. Then, in the words of Bruce Springsteen, we'll come home from work and wash up/And go shaving in the streets.




Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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