I was reading up on some history of shaving for an article I'm working on and I learned that for the ancient Romans, a man's first shave was his initiation into manhood. Families would hold big festivals for the young man and his shave and the whiskers were often put into a box and consecrated to some god.
This got me thinking about my first shave. I didn't get a party with mine. In fact, no one knew about it accept for me. I was maybe 12 or 13. I snuck into my parents' bathroom and rummaged through my old man's Dopp kit for his razor and shaving cream.
I really didn't have anything on my face accept for some peach fuzz and maybe a few dark hairs. But I figured I should probably get rid of that stuff. So I shaved. I really didn't know what I was doing. I just tried to remember how my dad did it after watching him shave growing up. I nicked myself a few times. I kept it a secret. I was sort of embarrassed about it I guess.
The second time I shaved (a couple of months later) I wasn't able to keep it secret. I shaved off a big chunk of my upper lip and I started bleeding everywhere. The bathroom looked like a crime scene. I put a bunch of toilet paper on my lip and had a huge scab there for a couple weeks after. I remember going to the doctor for something and he looked at my lip and said "So, you've started shaving, huh?" I sheepishly looked down and said yes.
So, that's my first shaving experience. It wasn't the transformative experience that Roman men experienced, but what are you going to do? How about yours? Did your dad teach you how to shave or did you just do it on your own? Did you feel like it was a right of passage for you?
To be perfectly frank, I really don't remember much about my first shave. I DO, however, remember a little toy plastic razor that I used to play with in the bath mimicing my Dad's shaving habits that didn't look like any razor I ever owned.
Until my birthday present of a Merkur safety razor came in the mail today. Now I know what my old toy razor looked like. :)
My first few shaves were like yours, although I "borrowed" my brother's razor, not my father's. After a while, I got around to asking for my own. I learned from practice, although I'm sure someone would have given me lessons had I asked. I'm not even really sure why I made any sort of attempt to hide it.
My parents gave me an electric shaver and tried to make a big deal about it - take photos etc., but being a teenager (idiot is a better word) I wanted none of that so one day I just took it out of the box and used it. No fanfare or hoopla - and no witnesses. And I'm still happy with that, so I don't think you're weird. My parents were a little upset, but they got over it. The only problem for me is that my 10 year old son will be coming to this event in a few years. Part of me wants to be a part of this event, but I don't want to make him uncomfortable like I was. Fortunately, my son and I have a better relationship than my dad (really stepdad). For his first shave I plan on purchasing a straight razor, strop, and brush for him when the time arrives so he can learn old school.
I remember shaving a few times when I was too young to need it, and I thought it was basically a process of neatly wiping the shaving cream off your face with the Bic. I remember the day when I spotted a few dark hairs in the sideburn area, and feeling SO psyched about *actually* needing to shave. I think I bought a stick of Sure that day, too. Ahh, I still remember the smell of my first stick of Sure antiperspirant.
Only recently started entered this shaving game, and I was only recently thinking on the significance of ridding yourself of the fuzz turn small hairs. When you have to get the blade out weekly or more frequently, I feel that is when the person needs to step into the role of a man. That is when responsibility kicks in. By shaving the mo, the poor kid is signing a social contract of sorts. The shave would represent the willingness to agree to the rules of society - the roles, rights and responsibilities that a man should undertake.
Brings new meaning to a 'wild beard' or 'clean shaven', I suppose.
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