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"Mr. Chowder is incapable of writing a bad sentence." – The New Yorker

The Smallest Lies

The Smallest Lies

The blare began, and I fell in love.  A bodily excitement buzzed when the Gillette ad came on – the “Look Sharp March”:

To look sharp and feel sharp too
Choose the razor that is built for you
Light [in tenor voice]! Regular [baritone]! Heavy [basso]!
Only way to get a decent shave.

How’re you fixed for blades – better check! – Gillette Blue Blades, I mean.

The ad was a harbinger of exhilaration: for only when the Look Sharp March was done could the World Series begin.

Meanwhile, what did we see?  The ad’s images showed a strong handsome guy, maybe even The Mick himself, making swift carefree swoops with the razor, cutting a clean swath through a face swathed with bright white shaving cream.  Shaving looked like mowing the lawn: one pass, and it was done.

It didn’t take long to find out that shaving hurt.  It was easy to cut yourself, and when you did, you bled forever.  You had to go over and over the same inch of skin to scrape down the stubborn stubble.

For some reason I persisted in trying to make swift swoops with my razor.  That was how it was done: I’d seen it so many times it was hard to imagine another way to do it, hard to carry out a private mode of existence that was surely opposed to the Right Way.  Eventually I would surely become one of the pretty people as seen on TV, inhabiting a pleasure ground of products that create joy.

Of course living, in the end, shows you how to live. But each time you abandon one of these small lies inflicted by the world of the media, it’s a painful realization: no matter how many times you see the ease and pleasure of life as it’s lived in the world as advertised, you still have to find your own bumpy, bloody, slow and painful way to live.

Look sharp!  Feel sharp!  Err… no. That’s not going to happen.  Let’s go on.

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