When I was in high school and was just starting to shave, which led to so much blood loss that I should have been honored by the Red Cross, I read "The Razor's Edge," the W. Somerset Maugham classic that was not, much to my amazement, because I was a stupid kid, about shaving.
Young men reading the book today would be similarly surprised, which is why many of them, unwilling to risk bleeding to death, barely shave at all.
Lately I have noticed that stubble is in style. Everywhere you look, there are guys with 5 o'clock shadow.
I don't know what happens when the time changes and it's either 6 o'clock or 4 o'clock (spring ahead, fall behind, cut yourself, wounds to bind), but I do know that women love this look on young guys but hate it on geezers like me.
One of them is my wife, Sue, to whom I cuddled up on a rare day when I didn't shave.
"Stop it!" she shrieked when I nuzzled her with a face (mine, naturally) that looked and felt like sandpaper.
"Don't you like the rugged look?" I asked.
"No!" she cried. "Go away!"
So I did. The next day, after I shaved, I went to the Art of Shaving, a New York City-based store with locations nationwide, including in Huntington Station, where I went for wisdom in what has become the lost art of shaving.
Because I didn't know where the store was in the mall, I violated the unwritten law that men should never ask other men for directions and asked Scott Molloy, who was manning the guest services desk, for directions.
Scott, 28, sported a three-day stubble.
"I'm not making a fashion statement," he explained. "I just haven't had the time to shave."
"A lot of young guys don't shave because they think women like the rugged look," I said.
"I know," Scott said. "They're trying to be hip. But a real man wakes up every morning and shaves. Tomorrow I'll get rid of this stubble."
"I got rid of mine this morning," I said.
"You're a real man," said Scott, who directed me to the Art of Shaving, where I spoke with manager Linda Wheeless.
"These young guys think they started the trend, but it originated with Crockett and Tubbs," she said, referring to the characters played by Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas on the 1980s cop show "Miami Vice."
"It wasn't even cool then," I said. "And it looks really dumb on these young guys today, especially the ones who get all dressed up but don't shave."
"It makes them look unkempt," Linda said.
"I like to look kempt," I replied. "My wife appreciates it, too."
Linda, whose son shaves not just his face but his head and whose grandson is too young to shave, showed me a picture of her husband, Richard, a handsome guy with a beard.
"He keeps it neat," she said. "No stubble. I wouldn't like that."
Then she showed me one of the most popular items in the store, a trimmer that can be set to help guys keep a perpetual stubble.
"Why don't they just use it to shave?" I asked.
"I don't know," Linda answered. "As long as they buy it, I don't care."
The next day, after I used my trusty twin-blade razor, I snuggled up to Sue again.
"How does that feel?" I asked.
"Much better," she said. "Nice and smooth."
It was, of course, a close shave.