My Turn: A razor blade dilemma

By GENE STAMELL

Published: 05-25-2023 6:05 PM

I changed my razor blade this morning. I realize this revelation falls far short of being categorized as earth-shattering news. But if you bear with me, dear reader, you may recognize some parts of yourself in the following self-reflection — and I’m not referring to my vanity mirror.

I am a daily shaver with a fairly rough beard. Thankfully, my mustache saves me the agony of dealing with the area below my nose and above my upper lip. The first three or four shaves with a new blade are wonderfully smooth and easy, experiences to happily anticipate and enjoy. The next four shaving sessions require a bit more time, with repeated up-and-down motions needed to ensure the completion of an adequate job.

Shavings nine through 12, however, are a different story entirely, leading me to musings I assume you will find thought-provoking and, perhaps, even a bit fascinating. (Note: for all non-shaving guest column enthusiasts, I suggest you continue reading. You may gain unexpected insights into the odd behaviors of someone you know.)

My central question is this: Why do I insist on using a dull razor blade after my eighth shave?

Why not change the damn blade and prepare for the satisfying experience described above? I often ask myself these questions as I suffer through the ninth and 10th shavings, almost berating myself by the 12th morning of using the same dull blade.

As you can imagine, this burning issue gnaws away at a brain already growing more limited with the passing of years. What is going on here? (You probably sense that insights are about to follow.)

A few possible explanations come to mind, the first involving conservation. By using fewer razor blades, I create less trash and thus make a small contribution toward saving our polluted planet. This is a worthy thought but, alas, it is not mine. Truth be told, I give zero thought to the environment during my daily morning routine in the bathroom.

Am I simply too lazy to spend the 15 seconds required to snap out the old blade and snap in the new? Well, I admit to my share of laziness, but not that lazy. It’s actually kind of fun to hear that soft “click” as a new blade finds its home at the tip of a razor.

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The most obvious explanation for my bizarre behavior involves, of course, money. I must be thinking that, by reusing the same blade four extra times, I am putting money in the bank.

You won’t be surprised to learn that I have run the numbers. I figure, at 12 shaves per blade, I purchase approximately 30 razor blades a year. A pack of 14 Harry’s blades costs $29, so let’s say I spend around $65 every 12 months. If I changed blades after eight shaves, I would spend a third more, or about another $22 per year. Twenty-two dollars per year! That’s 42 cents a week, or 6 cents a day. Hey, I stop off at Sunderland Frosty and throw away six bucks on a cup of soft serve swirl without batting an eye! And trust me, I don’t need the calories.

And so (if you’re still with me) we come to the heart of the matter: A grown man is happy to spend $6 every two or three weeks on a treat he doesn’t need but is unwilling to “treat” himself to a fresh razor blade, to more easily perform a task that helps him blend in more attractively with the general population. (Not that there aren’t a good many hirsute, unshaven sorts roaming the Pioneer Valley.)

No, no, I tell myself. Of course it’s not about the money. Heck, I could change blades every four days and still be able to pay for food and lodging. There is something else at play here, “play” being the operable word. Yes, what I realize is that this is a game, a competition with myself, a challenge to see how long I can make a razor blade last.

One more day, one more shave and … I’ve done it! Spread the word! I’m a winner! It’s a contest, and one I can win every time I play, if I just have the willpower to spend a little extra time scraping away at my tender skin.

Do you, or someone you know or love, play this same absurd game? Maybe not with razor blades, but, perhaps while engaging in any number of daily activities?

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m all for saving money. But as I age, I’ve become more cognizant of the cost-benefit aspect of my day-to-day habits.

Are four less-than-enjoyable shaves worth 42 cents a week to me? So far, I guess the answer is yes. Go figure.

Anyway, my mother would be proud. She always told me: Play to win.

Gene Stamell does the majority of his shaving at home in Leverett. He can be reached at gstamell@gmail.com.

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