This post is a repost from April 2012 – one of the first articles I posted on my blog. But since Acquisition Disorder is as relevant today as it was then, and since no one is likely to scroll back through over three thousand posts to find it, I decided to post it again.
When our grandfathers shaved, they used the razor, blades, soap, and brush they could get in their local area. Perhaps they had a choice, perhaps there was just one to pick from. They would use it until they ran out of blades or scraped the last of the soap out of the bowl, and then go back to the same store and buy the same thing again. Efficient, but hardly exciting – even if the products probably were undeniable better than the canned foam and multi blade cartridge razors most stores stock today.
These days many of us live in a place where traditional shaving supplies are near impossible to get in local stores – the products have been squeezed out by the Big Name Multinationals multi blade cartridge system and pressurised dry foam in cans. The downside of that is not only that many of our friends and fellow men don’t know the joy of a good shave, but also that we must turn to the Internet to buy what we need for our daily ritual. And the upside of that is that we’re no longer restricted to the brands – or even brand, singular – that our local stores carry… the shaving products of the whole wide world is now ours to buy. The selection is staggering, and finding the right one is a daunting task for a newly converted wetshaver – from what I have seen in online discussion forums, it can be a daunting task even for those old hands who never succumbed to the lure of the multi-blade razors in the first place.
We’re lucky enough to live in a time when the whole world is easily – almost too easily – accessible from the comfort of our homes: anyone with an internet connection can within minutes find other people across the world who are passionate about the same things – in our case that thing is traditional wetshaving. We can to our hearts content discuss the finer points of making lather, or nitty-gritty details on how one brush compares to another. And – and this is where the danger of hoarding starts raising it’s head – you can easily be moved by glowing reviews of shaving products you never heard of before… be it brands from a different continent or something someone has lovingly crafted by hand on their kitchen counter.
Something else happened at (very) roughly the same time as the multi blade razors were pushed onto the marked: there was the growing realization (or perhaps the re-realization) that men – us big, burly, manly men – should be allowed, or even encouraged to be a little vain. Care about our looks a little further than checking for holes in our pants and scraping the stubble off with a bayonet… it is not without reason that the ads for the early multi blade razors emphasised the smoothness of the shave and how much the girls would like it. Suddenly boys growing into men were told that it was okay to use that nice smelling soap, rub some lotion into the cheeks and, y’know – smarten up a bit. Gets you a bit more positive attention from the girls too – or the boys, if you’re tastes run that way. Your Mileage May vary, as it does with so many things in shaving and life.
As mentioned, we live in an age of global commerce. Checking out that barbershop in Turkey is just as easy as checking that one in downtown Houston – even if you happen to live in Norway. And the almost scary part is that it’s all easy to place and order and have it shipped straight to your door. No more slugging barefoot through snowdrifts higher than your own head to buy a sorry piece of soap at the drugstore (uphill both ways off course, not that the youth of today would believe it), no more having to make do with the same old blade. Instead we can order new soap and new blades from anywhere we like, and while we’re at it we might well put that cream the guys at the forum were raving about in the basket… oh, and lets pick up a yet another sampler pack of blades as well…and that brush that I didn’t pick up last time…
The result? The box the poor postman has to drag through the snowdrifts (barefoot, uphill, etc) seems pretty huge when you finally receives it, and the contents can barely be fitted into your shave nook. And where did that new razor come from? The mysteries of online shopping is never more impenetrable than when you’re unpacking.
Exposed to fellow shavers and tempting shops online, it’s easy for a hoard to grow out of all reasonable proportions. Our forefathers are a testament to the fact that we don’t really need four razors, five brushes and seven different soaps and creams in order to shave – but it is nice to to be able to mix and match, try something new, select just the right fragrance before we go out and face the world. We can embrace our manliness by picking something that smells of the great outdoors, or get ready to woo the girl (or boy) in our life with a light rose scent… the only limits is the sky and the size of your cupboard. And that is why I have gotten to rather enjoy my Acquisition Disorders; while it does cost me a bit of money (but not much more than buying into the latest fad from the Big Name Multinationals would cost) it gives me much pleasure – not just in the morning spa-experience that a good shave is, but also throughout the day – every day.
Embrace your hoard. Reconquer the bathroom and fill it with products that both you and your partner in life will enjoy. Celebrate your ability to be a manly man with clear skin and a pleasant fragrance. Revel in your Acquisition Disorders – but don’t spend more than you can afford. And Pay It Forward or sell to a fellow wetshaver when you happens to find something in your stash that you can’t understand why you got in the first place – after all, that makes room for more new supplies!