Editor’s Note: Warning. The following post contains material that could be harmful or traumatizing to some audiences.
Editor’s Note (2): I am referring to talking about how I shower. Just skip over that part if it creates theater of the mind.
I have two concurrent issues. First, I am fastidious about my own cleanliness. You don’t bump into that a lot in the indie/folk singer/songwriter world, but that doesn’t make it false in my case. I shower twice every day, regardless of whether I have been to the gym or not. In and of itself that is annoyingly time consuming but not debilitating. The debilitating part is that I hate showering. It’s ten minutes a day, twice a day. As a practicing Transcendental Meditator (who paid full price) I am charged with meditating for 20 minutes twice a day. On the days when that afternoon meditation is tight, it chafes my jeans (wheat, slow down in the comments) that I am spending 20 minutes a day in the shower that I could be spending meditating.
Is facial hair Ivy? I’ve heard both arguments. I know what isn’t Ivy. Walking around with postage stamp toilet paper bandages on my face. Which happens every time I shave. So I have had a beard almost every day since I got to college. I know the tips:
1. Shave with the grain (that grosses me out that my face has grain)
2. Warm water first
3. Let the shaving cream sit
4. Only shave down
5. Use a better razor (my razors have more blades than Britany Spears has questionable videos)
Etc. All tried. Nothing works. Hence, the beard. Which you would think would cut down on my shower time. It doesn’t, because no two hairs of my beard grow at the same pace. So every morning I have to trim the beard. I used to use clippers. I used to use awesome clippers, these giant red lawnmower things from Wahl that you used to get a buzz cut with when buzz cut wax came in a stick and the barber’s name was Mike and he had Iron Man comic books. Those clippers stayed with me for two decades, I never oiled the blades ever. That, by the way, is a giant crock. No one is oiling the blades of their beard trimmer. There are a lot of false maintenance recommendations that companies make to create the impression that their product is more finely tuned than it is. The particular clipper I had when I got sick and lost everything almost. At one point my sister would drop off a weekly hundred dollar bill for me and Gramercy so we could do groceries. Still didn’t oil my beard trimmer. Nor should you. Accept the fact that your beard trimmer is really just sharp scissors with the same motor as your toothbrush, and when it is time to let it go, let it go.
Now I use scissors and a come. I don’t have a license to cut hair, but I have the tools.
I do shave my neck though. It’s a neat trick I will share. When I gain weight I gain it two places, my big fat face and my gut. Face first, though. You can use a beard to create a jawline where there isn’t one. But you can’t make it look like you are doing that. How? Don’t follow where you see the jawline should be in a two dimensional mirror. Follow where you see the jawline should be if you could put down the cookies. There is fooling people who look at you from a distance, there is no fooling nature. My neck never bleeds either, which I see as God’s handwritten note to me that a beard is my jam.
So I don’t shave and that should shave… off minutes from my prep time. (see what I did there?). But I have to trim my beard like Edward Scissorhands so it is a net draw.
I shower like you do. I never liked bar soap (wanna hear a weird story? – when I got sick all we could afford was bulk Ivory soap and/or it’s generic grocery store alternative, and to this day I can’t use bar soap without getting nauseous because the smell reminds me of that cheap plastic liner shower I had when I was wondering where Gramercy’s school supply money was coming from). UNTIL. And they don’t know I am writing this, but I swear to you on Gramercy’s head it is true.
So I met with St. John’s CEO and yeah, we hit it off personally. He is a great guy. He told me they had soap on a rope (Old Spice, anybody?) and I was, in the back of my head, thinking, “How can such a great guy who has curated such fantastic scents and who has such a great sense of personal style, how in the world can he be selling soap on a rope? Is he raising money for a high school band?”
I WAS WRONG. This St. John’s soap, whether it is on a rope or not, is seriously the answer. It has enough scent that you don’t smell like off the shelf anything, but not so much that you want to unbutton another button and get a chain. It lathers, and it has the cleaning properties of paint thinner.
I have an oily T Zone, is what my ex used to call it. I have dry cheeks but my forehead and nose… I am going to use a word. OPEC. Without St. John’s soap, I have to use astringent to get clean. I really have to wash my face a few times before it becomes non-skid. But this soap, I am telling you, it is mighty.
Following up on St. John’s, I have a rotation going. On days when I shave my neck, I use their aftershave. It stings for a second but that starts to feel good. Kinda like I finally got as old as my dad. On days when I don’t shave, I use the cologne. Everybody’s different, and I am not going to lie about it, I have made… distribution errors. But I have my locations and quantities down now, and I get no compliments from strangers about how I smell. Which is perfect because you don’t want anyone who is maintaining social distancing to know how you smell anyway. I do though, have a few opinions on the matter that I value, and they have labeled my scent as second only to the hair on their Reasons-Why-I-Tolerate-John’s-Piccadillos checklist.
Ok, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. I have leaned on my hair my whole life. When I wanted to find out who I really was as a person I shaved my head to strip away my last excuse. When I did a triathlon I did two things. Ate two jars of peanut butter with a spoon a day, and shaved my head to strip away my last excuse.
When I took over the Facebook group from Christian, I was met with great skepticism. The group was, let’s say homogenous? And I announced that I was going to actively seek diversity because that’s the history of Ivy, and even if it wasn’t it should be. Number one question I got: What do you use in your hair?
Here’s the true answer. Nothing consistently. I have fine hair so I can’t use creams. I am not Elvis. My head is a swirling galaxy of cowlicks that have zero relation to each other and care not what tizzy they are sending my poor hair in. As a result there is the need for discipline up there. The aforementioned wax is good (you never really leave home, right?) or if Maddie (the artist who cuts The Franchise – one day we nicknamed my hair The Franchise – I was getting an award for something and she asked, “How did you do that?” and I said, “I didn’t really, they just like the hair,” and she said, “Yeah but you must’ve-“ and I interrupted and said, “I’m telling you, what you are cutting is the whole franchise.”) – if Maddie cuts it I try to respect her craft by using fiber, which is really good stuff.
I blow dry, but that is only because it is a mess if I don’t – a Gene Wilder mess.
Maddie recommends Reuzel Fiber Pomade. You can get it here.
Part 3, how on earth one selects one’s outfit for the day, when one does that, the psychology behind it, and what to do when you screw it up. Have a great weekend.