Tilted Windmills: Casual conversation and a close shave
by Mike McLellan / For the Tracy Press
Mar 01, 2013 | 2292 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Toilet paper on my chin did not become a way of life until my father brought home a stainless steel Gillette razor in a wooden box and handed it to me. I was almost 13.

I was reminded of this recently while purchasing the week’s grub.

The grocery clerk was checking out the items in our shopping cart when he came upon some razors. We started a conversation about the merits or demerits of various ways to shave. We even reminisced about how our fathers used to rid themselves of facial hair.

There are some men such as Brad Pitt who look masculine and handsome with a few days of stubble. George Cooney is another who can get by with it.

A few men even look good in a full beard — others look like an untended garden.

Some men leave a patch unshaven on their upper lip or on their chin and look distinguished. Colonel Sanders comes to mind.

But it doesn’t work for me.

My face has sported mustaches, full beards and muttonchops that would make presidents Chester A. Arthur and Martin Van Buren proud.

To begin with, my face looks like it has a five o’clock shadow at 10 a.m. By mid-afternoon, I look like a transient. I always need a shave.

The clerk and I agreed that shaving is a daily ritual that separates us from the apes and lizards.

Only humans take sharp pieces of metal and apply it to their faces with the purpose of ridding themselves of what is naturally there.

We like the ceremony,


The clerk admitted to being a fan of the latest five-blade system from a leading manufacturer.

My preference is for cheap — I go for no-frills blue plastic double-bladed throw-aways.

We both prefer to use a brush, soap and mug. Neither one of us actually uses this system.

Our fathers both used Gillette safety razors, which were really not safe at all. If you did not use them right, you were destined to get out a styptic pencil, which felt like a burning match on the open wound.

We both spoke fondly of having experienced a shave at the hands of a skilled barber welding a straight razor. Neither of us has been fool-hearty enough to have tried it on our own.

There has been much progress in many areas of life, but shaving — no matter the number of blades on the tool — is pretty much the same, unless you have gone electric. The electric shaver may be OK for some men with a lack of adventure, but real men daily face the threat of losing their lip.

In truth, I still have that razor my father gave to me. Presented like keys to his new car, it was a symbol of being more than just an ape.

You probably do not have meaningful conversations in the checkout line at the local SaveMart, but you should.

Next time you are there, share some banter on how baking soda can clean everything.

Grocery shopping can be amusing and informative — you never know what you’ll find out.

• Mike McLellan can be contacted by calling and leaving a message at 830-4231 or emailing him at DrMikeM@sbcglobal.net.

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