Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sometimes I love the old ways, like shaving soap & mug

Shaving cream is alright. It's a time saver. Just a shot of the stuff in the hand, smear it on the face, and you're ready to shave. I use it sometimes and get satisfactory, but not great results.

Like shaving cream, the new ways of doing things have their advantages, and most of the time the advantages are enough to win popular support and all but kill off the old ways.

This morning, and yesterday, and tomorrow, I shaved the old fashioned way.

You can still buy shaving soap in most places. It comes in a little box, about half an inch high, by three inches, by three inches. In the box is a little round cake of soap. I have a cake of that soap in a mug on the shelf in the bathroom and a shaving brush--an old one from my grandfather--with long, soft bristles. I get the brush wet and swish it around in the mug. I like the clink, clink, clink of the handle of the brush hitting the sides of the mug. I like the feel of the soft bristles as I paint my face with the thin layer of foamy, warm soap. I use a moden twin-blade razor. The razor does a good job, and the thin layer of soap is just enough to lubricate the bristles, but not so much that it clogs the razor.

When I'm done, I have a soft, smooth face. Sure, sometimes I still use the shaving cream. Sometimes I just don't feel like I have the three minutes or less that it takes me to make the lather in the mug. When I'm really feeling pressed for time, I use an electric razor. It's not the same, though. I can feel the difference all day and feel like I cheated myself out of a simple pleasure (and better shave.)

My fountain pen is another example of a thing of the past (mostly) that has been replaced by an inferior, but more convenient device. The ballpoint pen has trumped the fountain pen. It's cheaper, even if you buy a nice one that requires refills. The ballpoint pen doesn't spatter ink of you drop it. You're not going to bend it out of usefulness if you drop it. It can write on almost any surface.

It also smears ink on my left hand when I write, unless I handicap myself by bending my wrist unnaturally and obscure my already bad handwriting. No thanks.

I like the pleasure--yes, I said pleasure--of writing with a fountain pen. You can really feel the contact with the paper through the sound of the nib (the point, for the uninitiated) on the paper. The ink flows from the nib and sinks into the paper. There is no smear on my left hand.

For a couple of years now, I've been using my Cross fountain pen. I bought it with my first royalties check for about $60, and I don't let anyone else use it. It's my pen.

At first I bought modern ink cartridges that fit in the pen. No muss, no fuss with those ink cartridges. They're a modern contrivance for an ancient device. Yes, ancient. The first fountain pens appeared in Persia before the death of Christ. I discovered those little ink cartridges get expensive. I was going through about three a week.

So I went back to the old way. I fill my fountain pen from a bottle of ink now. That takes a little practice. At first I got ink on my forefinger and thumb when I filled the reservoir from the bottle. Now I don't.

Shaving soap and mug. Fountain pen and bottle of ink. I love them. I'll tell you what else I miss, for what it's worth. I miss writing on a typewriter. I don't do that anymore.Writing on a computer is much better (for me at least) in every way than writing on a typewriter. But... I do miss the sound of the keys clacking on the paper on the roller. If I could find a program that made those sounds to go along with my word processor, I'd be happier when I wrote. That would take some doing--I'm happiest when I'm writing.

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