Nerves of Steel

The double-edge safety razor.  A fine blend of form and function.

The double-edge safety razor. A fine blend of form and function.

The first time I handled a double-edge safety razor blade you’d think I was trying to pick up a porcupine soaked in nitroglycerin.  I’m like that with a lot of delicate things, or at least with things I think are delicate.  The first time I built a computer I was convinced if I touched anything on the circuit board it would surely meltdown, or if I applied the slightest amount of pressure more than needed something would snap and my money would be gone.  It’s as though my brain thinks that any part of my finger other than the slightest edge of the fingertip is just waiting to shatter, snap, or incinerate anything it touches.
Now obviously I didn’t think that I was going to destroy the razor blade by touching it wrong.  That’s silly.  I apparently thought the slightest mishandling would result in a slice to the bone and massive blood loss.  Gingerly I would unwrap the blades, and carefully load them into the razor with the skill, focus, and delicate determination of a bomb technician.  It was a JOB.
As time and exposure has passed I now find myself much more comfortable.  I still am wary of them, and that’s probably good.  When you stop respecting something that’s when it’s most likely to hurt you.  But it’s becoming increasingly normal, part of my regular shaving routine.  Normality is funny like that.
The other night a fellow student mentioned he’d read my blog, and said that he was nervous to try it because he was worried about having a blade so exposed near his face.  Now, I make plenty of jokes about how one day I’m going to cut my face off or cause some other serious harm, and it comes from a genuine understanding that there is a greater risk of injury shaving like this than with some alternative methods.  
But at the same time it made me realize how far I’ve moved.  My first time shaving with a safety razor I was nervous, and my hands might even have been shaking just a bit (an uncomfortable situation when you’re trying not to cut yourself).  Now, while I remain cautious and careful, the normality is increasingly setting in.  My old fears increasingly seem silly or overwrought.  Perhaps now, if I’m moving beyond my initial jitters, is the time when I can really start building skills.  When I’m starting to know enough to have an idea about what I’m doing, but before long term habits have set in.
So if you’re thinking about trying out traditional shaving, do it.  Will you cut yourself?  Maybe.  Will it be serious?  Probably not.  You’ll quickly realize that if a hundred million other people did it, you can too.
And it’s a lot of fun.  There’s always that.

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