I've smoked everything. Lucky and Camel cigarettes. 1Q pipe tobacco by Lane. The Cuban Punch Punch and the 1926 Padron. No more. The consumption of tobacco came to a screeching halt when the Doc found something on the lip. All is well but for a few months there was a great deal of reflection on the leaf and nothing has ever had the effect on me like a doctor saying, "...it may be cancerous." It wasn't but it was enough to quit. All of it.
So in smoking's place -- I've consumed myself with something else to do in a smoking jacket. Shaving. So far I've tried razor blades made by Astra, Feather, Shark, 7A.M., Sharp, Merkur and Derby. They're cheap. No more than $2 for five and they come in the most amazing and colorful packaging. Just like European cigarettes.
I was happy to use my Santa Maria shaving cream in a can ($25) and even happier to buy it from Phoebe Cates at Blue Tree. Her shop's web site is here and be sure to watch the film clip on the home page. Funny stuff with Kevin Kline. I had been to the shop a couple of times without a Phoebe sighting. My luck, the one time she was there I had Kim Chi for lunch.
While Santa Maria is good stuff and lasts for donkey years...I swear I get a year out of a can...it doesn't come close to lather spread on with a badger brush. The luxury of this is hard to describe. Let me try. While I was in the Army, I spent a week in the jungles of Panama without a shower save getting rained on almost every day. I had an itching jungle 'crud' everywhere and I wanted two things. A woman with very long finger nails to scratch my feet and a hot shower. Back at Ft Sherman, I did get a hot shower and I'll never forget that feeling of being reborn as hot water washed off seven days of jungle funk. Slathering warm lather on your face with a badger brush comes very close to that -- without having to endure the jungle part.
I strongly advise against slapping cologne on after shaving. The slow and careful shave with a heavy safety razor is a radical difference from the plastic Quarto razor that vibrates and the blue - green gel that smells like a J Crew store in an outlet mall (what is that smell?). I like to use what's known as skin food. Trumper's makes a nice lime and coral skin food I've tried but I really like the glass bottle D.R. Harris comes in. It's also cheaper.
After skin food comes cologne. I want to explain how I feel about men who smell like a perfume counter on the street. It's not attractive and I associate it with men who wear lots of Gucci, a black t shirt with a closed vent sport coat and affect an Italian accent even though they're from Ft Wayne, Indiana. I'm not saying you can't. I'm saying you shouldn't. For me, cologne that wears off quickly is A-Okay in my book. The scent is just for me. Perhaps the last bit of pleasure I treat myself to before going out into the world of pissed off clients, homicidal bus drivers and odors wafting through the 59th Street subway station. Odors so bad --I don't even want to know where they come from.
By the way, Herzfeld cognoscenti may be smiling at the label with the old 509 Madison Avenue address. That's where the shop opened in 1949. It moved to 507 Madison in 1984 and then to 118 E 57th in 2005. Great history, a wonderful staff and a beautiful tailor's ruler they refuse to sell me.