The Guillotine was Designed for Shaving...
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Friday, June 17, 2011

The Guillotine was Designed for Shaving...

Heads, hair -- guillotine, razor...
I’ve hit an impasse.  I’m not entirely ashamed, either.  It’s one of those French impasses that I didn’t plan on or calculate, but one that has left me feeling more like a Parisian than I ever thought.  It’s also left me a bit itchy.  These days, I have put down the razor and all but refuse to shave.

Parisian men have basically two styles: clean shaven or artfully scruffy.  The social lines seem blurred.  Students in my class will either never sport facial hair or sport it religiously.  Bankers can be smooth-faced or have a tended 5 o’clock shadow hovering across their cheeks.  From the most unkempt-looking hipster to the most well-to-do bourgeois, shaving is a statement.

Apparently I have made mine.  Much like vacuuming the floor and cooking, shaving has become a ritual that I no longer respect.  It happens once in a blue moon.  Maybe twice a month?  In between shaves, I take the electric shaver and do a quick run through to keep things in order. 

The razor, however, is my new enemy.  Chalk it up to my sensitive skin, stories about the guillotine during the Reign of Terror, or the notion that facial hair somehow gives me more street cred.  Either way, it’s an arbitrary statement.  Yet, I feel awkwardly comfortable with my tamed scruff.  Walking down the gritty Canal Saint Martin or along the famed Champs Elysées, I feel at home.

Such an artist..
There is a particular class of people where I live called semi-pejoratively bobo bohemian-bourgeois.  They are people who go to great lengths to look like starving artists while filing in a higher tax bracket than I can ever imagine.  It’s a way of life, a scruffy, down-to-earth existence paid for by embossed checks and platinum cards.  Well-manicured facial hair that looks effortless is one of their trademarks.

Living among the bobos, it’s not impossible that they will start to take me as one of their own, with my newfound defiant shaving habits.  Sometimes I look the part and I fit right in as I read along the banks of the Canal, appearing as ragamuffin as they all do.  I just hope they don’t get a peak at the non-designer label on my cardigan or inspect the authentic holes in my jeans too closely – they aren’t true bobo fashion statements at all.  But from the neck up, I'm in the club, for better or for worse.  

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