Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Better to Cut You With

I got a free razor in the mail a week or two ago. You probably got one too. It's called the Gillette Fusion, although I'm not exactly sure what it's supposed to fuse. I don't want it to fuse anything to my face -- not permanently, at least. At least Fusion is a word, though -- not like Atra, which is not only not a word, it doesn't even remind me of any words.

The Fusion has five blades, or six if you count the "precision trimmer" blade on the back. All those blades are supposed to give you a closer shave, but I think they just give you five times as many chances to cut yourself.

I'm not particularly interested in trying it, because I've been getting along just fine on two blades. I've been using the Atra Plus for about twenty years -- probably even longer -- and I think I'm getting about the closest shave I could possibly get. But don't misinterpret that as some sort of product endorsement, because I don't think it has much to do with the number of blades -- I happen to think it's all a matter of technique.

As a matter of fact, I remember back when I used to shave with just one blade at a time. Yes, one blade! Can you believe it? That seems so primitive by today's standards -- it's just one blade more than not shaving at all! It's totally incredible that people were ever able shave that way!

And yet, for some reason, I think I got about as close a shave back then as I do now. Like I said -- it's all in the technique. A good carpenter can do more with a hand saw and a hammer than a lousy carpenter can do with the best tools in the world. You should keep that in mind the next time you're shopping for something.

Of course, I think we all know that the real reason for all the extra blades is that they want to be able to charge us more. If they could convert all those Atra Plus users to Fusion users, think of all the money they'd make. To get an idea what I'm talking about, just go to a drug store and compare the cost of a pack of Atra Plus blades with the cost of a pack of Fusion blades. If you don't want to, that's okay -- you don't have to, because I've already done it for you.

Well, no I haven't, but I was going to. But then I figured it would be a lot easier to just look up the prices for Atra Plus and Fusion blades online. As it turns out, I didn't find any, but I did find a few forums where people were discussing the relative merits of various shaving products. You might find it interesting that there were quite a few people who hated the Fusion and preferred the Atra Plus, despite its three-blade disadvantage.

Of course, if you're at all like me, you might find it even more interesting that online shaving forums actually exist and there are people who regularly contribute to them. This seems incredibly bizarre to me. Never in my life have I felt the need or desire to discuss my shaving habits with anyone, and I can't imagine why anyone else would either.

When the computer was first invented, no one had any idea what uses it could be put to. And when the web took off, no one could have imagined what it would evolve into. Or at least I couldn't. But even the most prescient of futurists and technologists probably never expected that the internet would provide a forum to men who don't even know each other so they could exchange their views on something so absolutely mundane as their shaving habits.

But this is where the internet truly excels, because it enables a type of social interaction that simply wouldn't otherwise be possible. I'm willing to bet that nowhere on the face of this Earth (other than in online shaving forums) have men ever gotten together and discussed which shaving products they use and why they like them. Well, maybe the employees of Schick and Gillette and all those other companies have, but that's part of their job, so it doesn't count. What I mean is, I don't think you'll ever see a bunch of men get together at a party, for example, and discuss how many blades their new razor has or why they like it so much. Or maybe they do. Maybe I'm way off base. Maybe that sort of thing happens all the time and I just don't know about it. The truth is, I don't actually get invited to a lot of parties these days.

Anyway, I haven't tried the Fusion yet and I'm not sure when I will. To be totally honest, I'm sort of scared of it. It's got all those blades and it just looks like some kind of weapon to me. But one of these days, I'll try it and see if I get a closer shave. I'm skeptical, of course, since it seems like the only way I could get a closer shave than I get now would be by shaving off a layer of skin. We'll see. But don't expect me to post my findings here. If you're really interested, you can check out one of the shaving forums.