Uppermost House: A shave too close


OUCH! Even using an expensive razor can prove to be slightly dangerous to one’s face as columnist Peter Lewis personally discovered. “It’s not as bad as it looks,” said.

OUCH! Even using an expensive razor can prove to be slightly dangerous to one’s face as columnist Peter Lewis personally discovered. “It’s not as bad as it looks,” said.

By S. Peter Lewis

BN Columnist

I am a clumsy person.

I stumble and careen and narrowly miss common obstacles as I walk through my own house and office. Tripped over a chair last week while scurrying into the next room to answer an intercom message from my boss.

“What was that horrible noise? she asked, and then answered her own question with “Never mind,” followed by a raft of humiliating giggles.

Earlier in my life, when my pedestrian awkwardness became obvious in some social situation, for instance if I fell heavily against a wall for no apparent reason, I used to say, “Oh, I have HTSD.” This would typically elicit the head-tilt-eyebrow-lift-pursed-lips thing, indicating that my companions had no idea what that acronym meant. “Hyper Tectonic Sensitivity Disorder,” I would say, as professorially as possible. “The North American Plate must have just experienced a minor subduction.” This answer rarely satisfied anyone but me, which made it more fun, but it did tend to diffuse the situation. Only once did I get the unexpected reply, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard about that. I think my aunt has it,” which I let drop in the air without a retort.

EP peter lewis column 2 copyI fell down a wide and majestic flight of stairs at a fancy hotel during a business trip once, flinging my briefcase away as if a hand grenade and tossing a sheaf of papers skyward to fall as preposterous snow. At a board meeting, I once raised a glass of soda toward my lips to take a long pull from the straw, but instead shoved the straw far enough up my right nostril to cause minor epistaxis. Another time, I slipped on ice getting out of my car at a gas station and disappeared entirely out of sight underneath. When I wrestled myself back upright and stuck my head in the car to assure my coworker that I was fine, all he said was, “Typical.”

Anyway, I say all this because of something my father used to tell me pointedly when I was little and wanted to play with hatchets: “A sharp tool is a safe tool,” but which historical admonition turned out to be a flaming lie last night as I stood in the shower, pasted shaving cream on my face, took a new, modern, “safety” razor to my chin to mow my five-o’clock shadow, and mangled myself.

Now I know I started shaving late, but I’ve still done it for something like 40 years — you’d think I’d have this dialed by now. I do not.

I felt the slice like a bee sting and in the next moment crimson drops began to cascade down and splash against my feet like something out of a slasher movie. I cupped my hand to my chin and then pulled it away to find an odd concoction pooled in my palm that looked like weak tomato juice with whipped cream floating on it.

The visage that greeted me after I’d rinsed off and stood in front of the mirror was horrifying. I’d cleaved off a flap of chin skin about half as big as a postage stamp, and the profusion of blood was astonishing. I tried staunching it the usual way, with a torn piece of toilet paper, but in the end had to resort to three huge adhesive bandages of the sort found in the surgeries of large-animal veterinarians.

Thus swaddled, I crawled under the dark covers next to my dozing  wife. “The last twenty minutes have been awful,” I said. She mumbled for an explanation. “Feel my face,” I said, which she did, and then quickly rolled over and flicked on the little overhead boudoir light. “I have to see this,” she said. Thence seeing, she laughed heartily, and then quickly turned the light off before the nausea set in. “You look like some guy from a 1950s horror movie, but I can’t remember which one,” she said.

At work the next day, I put a sign on my shirt with an arrow that said, “shaving accident,” so I wouldn’t have to keep explaining things. One of the guys looked at my still-oozing wound and sympathized: “Once, when I was in the army in Bosnia…” Funny man.

Like I said earlier, this kind of thing happens to me all the time, often in my most common, comfortable, and familiar surroundings. They say most accidents happen within five miles of home. We’re thinking of moving.

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