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29 years & 1,450 twin blade cartridges later I’m still shaving my legs
Dennis Wyatt
Dennis Wyatt

Gillette should cut Gary Pogue a royalty check.

Thanks to him I’ve been consuming twice the number of razor blades than they’d expect a customer to do for the past 33 years.

So you can make sense out of what you just read, I shaved my legs on the night before my wedding and I’m pretty sure the bride-to-be didn’t need to mainly because I’m one of the few people I know that has to shave his legs every two days given I would pass as the missing link.

Confused? You don’t know the half of it.

Back in 1991 Gary kept hammering the same mantra into my head: “It’s not if you crash, it’s when you crash.”

Still sound a bit off? Keep reading. It gets worse.

When I finally decided to take the plunge I realized that my vanity was more important to me than my life – at least when it came to making an entrance for the ages at the emergency room that was close to apartments where I lived.

I had just gotten home at 2 a.m. from work when I decided to finally do it.

A week before when another friend was visiting me, he kept telling me I had to do it and offered all sorts of advice about how not to do it. Brian McClain actually spent 10 minutes giving me the rundown on how not to nick my legs or cut an artery. It was surreal a guy easily a decade younger than me was giving me advice on shaving my legs. I take it back; it was surreal a guy of any age was listening to another guy talking about how to shave your legs as if he were talking about crank set ratios.

That last tidbit of information just gave it away if you’re a roadie. No, not a member of the backstage crew for Garth Brooks whose song “Rodeo” I’d play to get me in the mood to go out and hammer it. The part in Garth’s lyrics about “the guts and the blood” I was to come to find out once I started shaving my legs because I decided to do what Gary wanted me to do was more than apropos.

I couldn’t help myself. After putting together three back-to-back years of cranking out 10,000 miles plus I finally succumbed to the siren song of riding in a pack and trying to outmaneuver and outdo everyone else while drafting off them like a parasite until you are ready to make your move.

Well, actually that’s the way it is supposed to happen. My “career” as a novice racing road bikes – the type you can plunk $7,000 down for as I once did and get only 16 pounds with no motor – was a spectacular failure.

Racing road bicycles is a lot different than piling on miles averaging 16 mph hours at a time.

But I digress. The real question is why I still shave my legs even though my passion these days is hiking and making sure I jog every day.

The reason is simple. If you want to know true pain be out in the middle of nowhere on a hike while scrambling up rocks and slip getting what baseball players refer to as nasty strawberries – at least they did back in the Stone Age circa 1974 – when a slide goes horribly wrong. Or, as I did one time a decade or so ago when there was a rare dusting of snow in the early morning as I was jogging home from a 6 a.m. step class at InShape after getting three hours of sleep – that alone should make me certifiable – and slipped on an icy sidewalk.

There is nothing more excruciating than having to pluck out hairs after a serious interaction with pavement or gravel turns your legs into a bloody mess and scabs over by the time you get home. I take that back; there is one thing more painful: Having an emergency room nurse pluck out hairs from the scab on your back the size of a dinner plate from a crash four hours earlier after she poured a liter of peroxide on it. I can still hear the fizzling sound today.

I got the scab on my back that when a bicyclist on an organized ride came to a sudden stop in front of me on an uphill, I hit his back tire, flipped over him and slid 10 or so feet back downhill minus my $7,000 bicycle, and slipped into blissful unconsciousness. I came to hearing the words “I’m a doctor and it looks like he may have broken his neck” as paramedics were preparing to strap me to a back board.

Did I mention that the only three times I’ve been strapped to a backboard was after I hit a small dog while bicycling downhill at 45 mph, hit the guy’s rear tire going uphill, and suffering a severe bonk three decades ago while heading up the steepest part of Sonora Pass on the fifth day of traversing the Sierra on a fully-loaded touring bicycle?

Back to my standing in the bath tub 29 years ago after taking a twin blade razor and carefully for an hour removing all traces of hair on my left leg and having cleaned up enough hair from the tub to create a golf ball sized collection. I did not have one single nick or cut. It was also 3 a.m. and I was going for a ride with some friends at 9 a.m. So I did what was logical – or at least it seemed that way at the time. Assuming I had nailed in one hour what women take years to get down pat, I switched blades and decided to pick up tempo on my right leg. It took just one swipe and I had blood squirting all over the bathtub.

It took me close to a half hour to apply enough pressure to get the bleeding to stop so I could put a gauze pad on and tape it in place. As risky and illogical of a move that seems today, I wasn’t about to show up at an ER and try to explain why one leg was smooth and the other hairy leg was bleeding like a stuck pig when most normal people would be asleep.

For real irony my first crash after shaving my legs was the incident going uphill just two weeks later. Shaving my legs worked great mainly because my legs never really got ripped up. Gary, however, failed to mention the wisdom of shaving one’s back if you are doing things that make getting up close and personal with asphalt a strong possibility.

So here I am 29 years and 1,450 twin blade cartridges later still shaving my legs. I stopped once in the winter after I married because it was cold jogging but my better half — who had never seen me with hair on my legs when we were dating — clearly didn’t like the Big Foot look. I did suspend shaving one other time for a week but then I did a face plant tripping one of Manteca’s numerous sidewalk speed bumps jogging for a true uplifting experience.

Now if I go for more than two days without shaving my legs they become uncomfortable plus it makes the heat more intolerable.

Gary, as a hardcore cyclist at the time as well as doing duty as my best man, also shaved his legs the night before my wedding.

It seems perfectly normal for any guy to do who has bounced his bicycle helmet encased head off the pavement one too many times.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.