I became a self-taught shaver one summer’s day at the tender age of fifteen when I took a disposable yellow Bic razor and shaved the hair on my upper lip. It had grown to the point where it was no longer cool. Oddly enough, I don’t remember how often I actually shaved going through high school, but I do remember the cool summer breeze hitting my lip when I rode my bike downtown later that day.
I didn’t use any shaving cream, or foam, or gel – I’m fairly confident gel didn’t even exist then – or even soap, and neither did I use any aftershave.
Not even Dad’s Old Spice.
Just as I had taught myself the art of shaving, I was also also a self-taught aftershave user. I had no special tricks, or moves, I just splashed some aftershave into the cuts in my neck, grimaced, and moved on.
Shortly after my first shave, Braun or Philips, one of the electric shaver makers ran a promotional campaign at Dad’s store, and every buyer of a shaver also received a bottle of Boss aftershave.
Either Dad forgot give those out to each buyer, or they didn’t sell enough of them, but when I moved out to go to college, I had bottles and bottles of Boss aftershave in my little student apartment, and then the apartment after that, and the one after that.
For about a decade, I was a Boss man.
Naturally, I ran out of Boss at some point, and with no real reason or analysis, I turned to Fahrenheit. And when Wife then said she liked the scent, I even started to use it regularly.
One morning, I woke up in another little apartment of mine, that one in Stockholm, and realized I was running late for a breakfast meeting I was supposed to have with a new client. It was a small project, but it was also the dotcom bom era, and this particular dotcom was about to go places.
So I got up, and with no time to lose, got dressed, brushed my teeth – and splashed a little aftershave on my face before running to the subway.
I got to the agreed meeting place, a downtown coffee shop, first. Five minutes later my clients arrived, a nice young lady whose name I’ve since forgotten, and Peter, whose name I only remember because the nice young lady whose name I’ve forgotten pronounced it as “Peet-uh”, which I thought was a little bit funny then.
We shook hands and exchanged niceties and were ready to head over to the counter to get our coffees and our sandwiches when the nice young lady stopped, and cocked her head a little bit, as if she had just realized something.
Then she looked at me and said, with a smile, but pointedly:
“Well, somebody’s wearing Fahrenheit today.”
I could feel the sting of the aftershave on my neck, and I could practically see the fumes coming out from under my collar. I imagined I looked like Pig-Pen in Peanuts.
The rest of the meeting is a blur in my memory.