Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Cutting Edge

Have you noticed the arms race that’s been going on in the razor industry for the past score years or so? When I first started shaving, 2-bladed razors were common, indeed the norm. Then, perhaps a decade ago, Gillette introduced The Mach 3, and Schick brought out the Xtreme 3, both of which were equipped with—you guessed it—3 blades with which to battle your beard. Gillette fired back with the M3 Power, which not only had 3 blades, but also, powered by a small battery, vibrated to “massage” you face and give you—of course—a closer shave. Who ordered that? Not to be outdone, Schick one-upped their competition with the Quattro. Guess how many blades that had.

And I’m not even going to mention all the lubricating strips and skin-stretching fins that have been introduced.
Never before had so much technology been available to convince attractive women to caress my face admiringly.

So, it’s no surprise that, in early 2004, The Onion, America's Finest News SourceTM, “predicted,” in typical vulgar-but-hilarious style, that Gillette would be forced to offer a 5-bladed razor. I mean, what else are you going to do when the competition has 4 blades? Well, just about 2 years later, the Gillette Fusion is here, in all of its 5-bladed glory. (Apparently, it’s now passé to include the number of blades in your product name. Maybe that would be considered impolite, you know, bragging.) It seems to me that, if you are considering a plan that would make an Onion article true, you might want rethink it. But I’m not running a bazillion-dollar-per-year company, so what do I know? Are 5 blades not enough for your manly-man beard? Well, friend, you need the vibrating Fusion Power. Battery included.

Anyway, NPR’s Morning Edition did a brief review/interview on the Fusion recently. You should check it out.

Meanwhile, I’ve been shaving with the same old 2-bladed Gillette Sensor (not even the Sensor Excel) since…well I can’t remember when. But 2 blades was considered the state of the art at the time, so I think it must have been the Stone Age. It works reasonably well, meaning that it makes dragging a sharp implement across my face and throat about as tolerable as it’s going to get. True, I never find strange women running their hands over my face, saying, “Ooh, that’s close.” But, with my face, that’s not going to happen under any circumstances, so I can’t really complain.

Actually, I should mention that the Fusion has 6 blades. That’s right: six. There’s an extra blade on the back for trimming your sideburns or just under your nose. (It occurs to me that, if the razor head weren’t so darned wide, what with 5 blades, the lubristrippy thing, and the skin stretcher, perhaps the extra blade wouldn’t be necessary.) It was that sixth, “edging” blade that won me over. Or did me in. I mean, I do need to trim my ‘burns, and even my old-school, 2-bladed Sensor is a bit wide for that. So I bought one.

Yeah, I’m a sucker. And I’m reinforcing blade inflation. But I didn’t buy the battery-powered version. That’s where I draw the line!

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