In 31 years of knowing Janine, she has yet to see my face. In the past this bothered her, but I demurred. I refused to shave just so that she could view my face. Perhaps that is about to change.
Initially she believed that it was a fashion statement. Then as the relationship matured, she came to believe that of far greater significance was sheer indolence on my part. Suffice to state that I never enlightened her as to the fundamental reason as I wished to maintain some mystique in the marriage.
Main picture: As a callow youth with long beard and even longer hair
Unsurprisingly, I was periodically harassed to shave it all off to no avail.
Interesting as Janine’s observations were neither was the compelling reason why I became an avowed non-shaver: it was the Army or National Service as it was euphemistically called which I performed with 1SAI based at Oudshoorn in 1972.
The day commenced at 4am sharp with the triple S’s – sh*t, shave and shampoo. Invariably the water was ice cold. The balance of my life’s ledger was decidedly negative as it commenced with the cold shower and then a cold water shave exacerbated it. By 14:00, the first signs of an incipient “beard” was apparent – red, sharp and prickly. [The red was the colour of the beard arising from my Irish background]
The corporal would descend upon me. With the following words the whole squad would be consigned to perform some strenuous strafparade – literally punishment parade – “McCleland. Jy het alweer nie vanoggend geskeur nie!” [“McCleland, you have not shaved again this morning”] Working on the principle of collective punishment, the whole peleton – platoon – was subjected to discipline. This usually took the form of 50 push-ups.
In no small measure I learnt to hate the fact that my beard grew so prolifically. By the time that I was discharged in October 1972, the first item that I disposed of was my shaving kit. Apart from the aversion engendered by the Army, the 1970s was also the era of long beards and even longer hair.
By the time that I met Janine in July 1984, she was not in a position to argue the point. Even though she disliked beards intensely, I came as a package – me and my beard. It was non-negotiable. It could have been worse. I could have suffered from a drinking problem or just as intrusively had children from my previous marriage. I came with no baggage except with a deep aversion to shaving.
By now – 30+ years later – Janine has made peace with the fact that she is unlikely ever to see my unadorned face – EVER.
Now for the first time in years I am concerned. After ten years without any derogatory comments about facial hair or any synonyms thereof, Janine’s quietitude on the topic implies either outright victory by way of acceptance or hopefully she has grown to love it.
These assumptions could shortly be gravely tested with the release of the Skarp Laser Razor. According to the developers:
The razor replaces traditional blades with a laser that can cut through hair, which its creators promise will ensure users do not experience scratches, razor burn, itching, or accidental cuts.
They also promise a “close and smooth” shave, and that you will save money thanks to the razor not requiring disposable blades.
Wavelengths of light are used to cut a chromophore in the hair, which is possible thanks to the chromophore particles absorbing light. The targeted chromophore is shared by every human, regardless of age, gender, or race. The laser takes advantage of this by cutting through the hair using the identified particles and a suitable wavelength of light.
The Skarp Razor can be used with water – in the shower, for example – but it doesn’t require water to work. The prototypes are made out of aluminium.
If I receive one of these confounded instruments as a Christmas Present, this would be in the expectation that I would actually use it.
Could somebody please tell Janine that this psychology will not work on me?
After having not shaving for 42 years and being able to save 10 minutes every morning by not doing so, why would I want to start shaving now?
I am also hoping that Janine has grown so fond of my beard that she would not expect it to be shaved off.
Perhaps Janine will surprise me and actually purchase one as it is not inconceivable that she wants a new man around the house!