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New hygiene regimen not the sharpest idea

Doug Clark
Doug Clark

Just a head’s-up.

If I’m found face down in a large, semi-coagulated pool of blood, don’t bother calling in a forensics team.

Against all better judgment and warnings from my lovely wife, Sherry, I have been attempting to defoliate my mug …

With a straight razor.

From the way my maiden voyage went Monday morning, I’ll be needing a transfusion before Friday’s shave rolls along.

Hard to believe that just a few generations ago, the straight razor was used daily by men who wanted to remove their whiskers.

True, those were also the days when guys rolled their own smokes, drank hooch from metal flasks while driving and sometimes relied on corncobs instead of Charmin.

Don’t laugh. As harsh as it sounds, these raw-knuckled lugs still managed to build the whole damn country.

Now we’re living in a world of wimps.

We can’t even brew an entire pot of coffee any more.

Everything is automatic this and instant that.

We’re so soft Spokane Mayor David Condon puts on cashmere gloves before handing out pink slips at City Hall.

I should talk.

As I write this, three chunks of toilet paper hang from the right side of my face. This is to stop seepage from the small linear wounds caused by my misapplied blade.

Sweeney Todd wasn’t this messy.

My right nostril also stings a bit. This is due to an internal nick that I inflicted while trying to de-whisker the real estate under my nose.

You know, Nick Nostril would actually make a pretty good name for a private eye.

Anyway, my entire upper right cheek area has the burning sensation you’d normally associate with being out in the sun too long or falling face first into a running belt sander.

I don’t remember ever having a worse shave.

Although using the word “shave” is a bit ingenuous since I never actually moved on to the left cheek.

You’ve heard that old saying about quitting while you’re ahead?

I figured I’d quit while I still HAD a head.

Does anybody actually still shave this way?

And if so, are you willing to give lessons?

Call me and we’ll talk.

Shaving with a straight razor is one of those long-lost societal arts that I always wanted to master, mainly so I could say in a deep, manly tone:

“Yeah. I can do that.”

This notion popped back into my head a couple weeks ago while Sherry and I were browsing around in a Monroe Street antique store.

My eyes fixed on an array of old straight razors in a glass case.

After a brief inspection, I shelled out 22 bucks for one of the razors because …

The shiny blade was engraved with sailing ships.

It had a pretty red-and-yellow handle.

I didn’t rush right into my self-vivisection.

I waited until I found my granddad’s old strop, which plays a vital role in the shaving process.

This strop consists of two long pieces of leather and canvas. The idea is to run the razor over the strop, up and down, which keeps the blade straight and lethal.

“Swoosha-swoosha …”

Not having granddad around to teach me, I did the next best thing and watched some smart aleck kid strop his razor on YouTube.

After stropping myself silly, I then took a shower.

This was to soften my whiskers, which makes them easier to cut.

This was also so I could jump quickly back over the shower stall drain if I sliced into an artery.

On went the shaving cream and the rest, as they say, was bloody misery.

Maybe we’ve just evolved too far away from the humble straight razor to ever go back.

Look at what sissified implements pass for razors today.

One model from Gillette comes with four protected blades and a strip of some sort of synthetic mucous to help it glide.

It even uses batteries to make it vibrate.

Heck. Sweeney Doug don’t need no stinking batteries.

Powered by terror, my hand shook and twitched that blade all over my face.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at

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