Yesterday morning, I was in the shower at my daughters’ apartment, sort of/kind of using a razor to clean up the hair on my neck. (While in the Tiny White Box, I take showers two or three times a week—I believe I’ve complained about their inconvenience—so being able to get in a hot shower in a warm room and actually relax instead of focusing on the shock of cold to come is heavenly.) (As another aside, my daughters have, between them, probably seven kinds of shampoo and five kinds of conditioner. As you may recall, I’ve sworn off hair products, using just a slurry of water and baking soda on my hair—which I’d unfortunately left in the Jeep–, so being in this luxurious shower, with so many empty promises in brightly-colored bottles right at hand was much like being an alcoholic left alone in a bar with no video camera recording him. Which, after much writing in circles, brings me back to the razor in my hand.)
As I moved the razor down my neck, and looked at all the shampoos in front of me, I thought of alcohol. Not that I wanted to drink alcohol—or shampoo—just my relationship to alcohol. Normal people can have a drink or two to take the edge off, to relax and transition from the day into the evening. Holding the Harry’s razor (this is not an endorsement—they’re not a sponsor—but I do use Harry’s razors. They send me new blades every few months, and now that I’ve given up daily shaving, I will be rich beyond my wildest dreams in industrial-grade, precision-engineered sharp, shiny metal), I removed the neck stubble, and realized normal folks use alcohol like that razor—they take just enough off of the days hair and then those folks put the razor away. While alcohol may at some point have been a razor for me, I’d misused and abused it long enough that I had transformed it into a Sawzall, a reciprocating saw. For those not familiar with reciprocating saws, here’s an apt description from handyman.com: “Reciprocating saws make demolition easier and more fun. You can struggle and rip it out with a variety of crowbars and hacksaws or you can use a reciprocating saw and just cut it free. It’s the ultimate demolition tool. Windows, walls, plumbing, doors and more—just cut and toss.”
Exactly how I’d used alcohol for at least the last five years of my drinking. Instead of trimming my neck and putting the razor away, I’d used it as “the ultimate demolition tool,” just cutting and tossing away my self-respect, my relationships, my financial security and any shred of hope. Pretty damn effective, I’d say.
Standing in the shower, I was glad I could keep my hands and lips away from that reciprocating saw. Shampoo is not booze, but I was also grateful I was able to keep my hands and hair away from any of the smells, textures and dreams inside those bottles. I simply rinsed my hair with water and went on with my day.