When I first started looking into straight shaving, I read hundreds of articles and watched dozens of hours of video, believing that it was the best way to prepare for my first shave. But months after reading my first article I still didn't have my own straight and I still hadn't tried it; I had zero first-hand experience. I was so caught up in research that I didn't even think to ask myself why I hadn't actually done anything!
Then I bumped into John. I didn't know a lot about him except that he was English and that he enjoyed expensive scotch, was generally quiet, and blended in with the background with faded jeans and a white T-shirt. We had a friend in common and met at a birthday party, which is where this story really begins. I had a beard that needed shaving and I must have mentioned that I'd been looking into straight razors, but truly I can't remember. What I can remember is the look on his face, how John lit up and literally leapt from his barstool with excitement.
"Do it, it's brilliant!" he said. "Forget about researching it, just do it. And use your own damn common sense." Then he told me the story of shopping for his first straight razor, how the salesperson told him it wasn't worth the trouble, that it was a waste of money, how he was going to cut himself and it was going to ruin the whole thing. "Then I told him to **** off and bought a straight razor someplace else. I used my brain and went slowly, managed not to cut myself at all, then I cleaned up with my leftover cartridge razor and that was that." He was breathless. I started to ask him for advice and he shushed me and said, "Go try it, then we'll talk. Just do it."
He was right, obviously. I won't say my first shave went perfectly, but I managed not to ruin my face and it was enough to get me really excited about learning a new skill. John knew then what I know now: that there's no substitute for experience.