I’ve long enjoyed shaving with hot lather, applied with an English boar bristle brush purchased up in Carmel-by-the-Sea over twenty years ago, when we attended a round of the AT&T golf tournament at Pebble Beach. My wife-to-be and I drove up with a couple we were friends with and we spent the weekend attending a round of professional golf and sightseeing. It was while we were in Carmel-by-the-Sea that I added this luxurious brush to my shaving routine.
I had been using a brush I somehow—the details have receded into the mists of time—inherited, which was worn down and sparse compared to the new one. I didn’t even realize just how sparse it was until I first shaved with the new one. The difference was immediately noticeable and immensely enjoyable. I’ve used shave cream from the can and shave gel that foams up as you apply it, but for me there’s nothing like running a thick brush under the hottest water available, whipping up a nice lather with a creamy shaving soap (Colonel Conk’s Almond is my current goto) and applying it while it’s still hot and wet. It not only feels good going on, but it softens the beard and makes shaving much more pleasurable. At least that’s my experience.
When the pandemic hit and we were locked down for a while, I stopped shaving and grew a beard. I kept it until this past August, when I decided to shave it off for a job interview I was going on. I’ve gotten kind of lazy in my old age and I don’t shave as often as I used to. I also use an electric razor when I’m feeling particularly curmudgeonly. All that, coupled with the over a year and a half I went without shaving, meant I had forgotten how I used hot lather. It wasn’t until today that I finally put it all together. Believe it or not, it takes a little planning and coordination to get the lather at the right richness and temperature for a truly enjoyable shave. I look forward to my next shave, though I’m unclear on when that might be.
I wonder if this pandemic, and our response to it, will change how seriously we take ourselves. If you’ve been watching television—and I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume most everyone is—you may have noticed some changes in much of live news and late night programming. Since nearly everyone who’s reporting is at home, by themselves, it’s obvious that the women anchors, reporters, and pundits are having to do their own hair and makeup. Regardless of how well they might do it, it’s not the same and it’s noticeable. I haven’t noticed how much, if any, makeup the men are wearing, but I have noticed a whole bunch of them has decided it’s not worth shaving right now (I’m one of them.)
So . . . what I’m wondering is, after we are able to return to some semblance of a normal life, where we can gather again so that newscasters and performers can return to the studio, when knowledge workers can return to their cube farms . . . will we? Better yet, should we? I spent the last few years of my career at Rocketdyne working from home. I’d like to think I was at least as productive, if not more so, than I was when I was going in to the office each day.
When I first started working there, I wore a suit and tie each and every day. By the time I left, the only time I wore a tie was if the “customer” (usually NASA) was visiting and we had to blow smoke up their asses. Knit polo shirts and chinos became acceptable and, on Fridays, everyone wore denim. I’d like to think one of the lessons we’ll glean from this (and there will be dozens, no doubt) is that we can be a lot more casual and still perform at a high level. And there are numerous ways to communicate, connect, and collaborate, especially if we’re not hamstrung by unnecessary and awkward notions of propriety.
I retired nearly 13 years ago, though I've continued to work during most of the time since then. I'm hoping to return to work on the RS-25 rocket engine program (formerly the SSME) which will power our return to the moon. Mostly I'm just cruising, making the most of what time I have remaining.
Although my time is nearly up, I still care deeply about the kind of world I'll be leaving to those who follow me and, to that end, I am devoted to seeing the forces of repression and authoritarianism are at least held at bay, if not crushed out of existence.
I write about things that interest me and, as an eclectic soul, my interests run the gamut from science to spirituality, governance to economics, art and engineering. I'm hopeful one day my children will read what I've left behind.
The views expressed herein are those of the author. Any opinions regarding the value or worth of particular business processes, tools, or procedures, whether at his former place of employment, at a current client's enterprise, or in general, are his responsibility alone.