Personal Hygiene

John’s personal hygiene routines (RW142)


John does not moisturize. He has never moisturized and he does not want to moisturize because then his clothes might cling to him in a weird way.

Shaving with a dry razor

John shaves using a dry disposable razor that he gets for $4 for a pack of ten and he does not even use any water. He learned this technique while reading about the Vietnam War: You don't want to use shaving cream because the Viet Cong can smell the soap. Various people have various Vietnams and John is on a mission in Vietnam every time he leaves the house. Shaving Special Forces style is also part of the continuum of John's autonomy from modern softness.

Every once in a while he will walk by the mirror and say: ”Oh, my beard has gone down my neck and up my cheeks too much! I'm starting to look wild!” and he will need to tame it. A lot of people who don't wear beards are surprised to learn that in order to have your beard look like a normal beard you need to do some maintenance on it. A beard that looks like it has just growing naturally hasn't necessarily grown naturally, in the same way that someone might manipulate their eyebrow shape or other aspects of the hair that covers their body naturally. John’s beard will go down his neck and up his cheeks in a way that makes him look like a crazy person and he will do a little bit of trim down the top and trim up the bottom.

Without any forethought or planning he will grab a razor and start chipping away at it. He starts from the bottom, he shaves up on either side, taking off a centimeter at a time because if you try and do the whole thing at once it will pull and hurt. When loggers take away a forest they don't just go in the middle and start chopping everything down, but they start at the outside and work in. When the neck is done John will move up to his cheeks which are the sensitive parts of the face, particularly the top of the moustache area where your smile line is. That part is even less excited about getting shaved with a dry disposable razor, but John tells himself to ”Toughen up!” and starts working down and back to his neck, working up.

It doesn't take as long as it sounds, it doesn't even take as long as it takes to describe, but John does work at it pretty diligently and his beard will look amazing. If he let it go for too long he will do it after he gets out of the shower and his beard is wet and his face is warmed up from the shower, which is easier and with less pain.

Shaving John's entire face is a elaborate process. He will first go over it with a disposable razor to just shave the top off and then he will leave it alone for a while and come back and do it again and again. Taking off a whole beard with a disposable razor will ruin one razor, but they cost $1 and he throws it away and gets the second one. Eventually he will have chopped away enough of the beard that he can actually begin to shave.

This is the worst shaving routine Dan has ever heard of in his whole life! It is harmful and barbaric! John could be doing so much better for himself and he deserves it! Dan would even put it a step below Crocodile Dundee shaving with his knife in a river. Why would John not use water and some shaving cream? He argues that as soon as you buy shaving cream you are in hock to Big Cream, like Big Pharma. Even if John would use hobo oil he would be in hock to Big Hobo Oil.

Deodorant, smelling like weed, having a scent

John does not use underarm deodorant because that would be gross! Whenever he does a lot of hard work out in the yard and doesn't take a shower, an inexplicable smell comes out of him that for some reason smells like marijuana which might have built up in his system 20+ years ago and there is still a lot of weed in his body that comes out in the form of sweat.

John’s dad had a scent, not an unpleasant scent, but he did not smell like nothing. He smelled like David Morgan Roderick. John has a similar scent which could be described as a musk although that is a terrible word. It is not overpowering, but it is a scent. All of John’s things, his clothes, his sheets, his pillows, his whole house has this scent. You could wash his pillows 10.000 times with bleach and the pillows would fall apart, but the shards of fabric would still smell like John. It is very subtle but true to him.

People who are close to him and people who have loved him and who love him deeply told him that his scent is not only not an unpleasant one, but it is a comforting smell that you can bond with or feel connected to because you can tell it is John. When they are wearing his shirt they will have a sense of being close to him. Not being adorned by perfumes and chemicals doesn't make him unpleasant.

John has never used aftershave, cologne, anti-perspirant or deodorant, neither when he was a teenager nor now. When he was a teenager his feet smelled terrible. He should have been cutting trail somewhere and not be in polite society, but he didn't wear socks and all of his shoes just smelled like a teenager. He didn't wear socks because he liked big heavy itchy wool socks in the winter and the rest of the time he just didn't wear any socks.

Taking showers and baths

After John has been working hard and has this whiff of marijuana, he takes a shower and doesn’t inflict himself on the world. He likes to take showers and baths! John prefers to take baths and he prefers to luxuriate in them, but he can't spend three hours a day every day in a bath. After three days without a bath or shower he will put himself on notice, like ”Hey, it's been three days!” Sometimes he will make it to day four, but he doesn't wander around for ten days without showering. It is not the commercial regimen!

Even in High School John didn't wear deodorant and just like normal every once in a while some girl would say ”Eww! You stink! Get in the shower!”, but that was usually an invitation and they were being cute. If John went to work in an office every day he would feel much more obligated to have his cubicle area be tidy and to smell like Daffodils because he would be working in close proximity to a lot of other people. He would appreciate it if they didn't smell and he would share in that.

Instead John’s career was like this: Go up on stage in a room where 80% of the people were smoking cigarettes, play a vigorous Rock'n'Roll set for two hours until he was wet from head to toe, then climb into a van and drive all night while everyone in the van was also smoking cigarettes. There wasn't a feeling of ”Oh, I stink!”, but their whole lives stank! They were covered with alcohol, bleach, tobacco and sweat. Also, they didn’t have that many changes of clothes and they were gone for weeks at a time.

If happens very infrequently that somebody will tell John to go take a shower. The people close to him are blunt enough and would certainly tell him. His sister relishes the opportunity to tell him to do something! If she had the opportunity to tell him to go take a shower she would embrace that duty. John is very conscious of self-delusion and he has tested many times to rule out that he totally stinks and was just living in a world where he has convinced himself that he doesn't stink.

John has gone to independent sources many times and asked ”On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate my current stickiness and my overall stickiness?” and the results are always the same: ”Well, you smell like you, but it is not bad!” - ”Hm, all right!” - ”But do I sometimes smell more like me than others?” - ”Well, you never really smell bad. Sometimes you smell like pot!”, which all comports with what John already knew.

Dan suspects that John hasn’t done enough physical activity since he quit (smoking pot) to have completely purged it, or he did so much pot that it changed his DNA and he now is essentially a pot plant. John smells pot all the time because he lives in Seattle. Pot smells like skunk because Seattle has skunks, but Seattle also has really skanky pot. When he gets really dirty he thinks he smells skanky, which is a terrible word that is even worse than musky. You don't wanna smell skanky!

Soap, aftershave, John's dad

John does not have very many products. He has toothpaste and he has shampoo which usually comes with conditioner. Until recently he used cheap soap, but he had some guests who were not afraid to be blunt and say ”This soap is cheap!” - ”Well, what is soap supposed to do that a bar of lye can't?”, but Dan suggests that it is supposed to moisturize.

Some of these visitors have brought John fancy soaps. He is allergic to detergents and some fancy soaps are so smelly that he can't have them in the house. If they are in the bathroom upstairs he can smell them when he is in the yard because there is so much lavender, camomile, almonds or whatever coming from upstairs: ”Get this out of my house! I can't have it!”

Some soaps are mild, have French names and are stamped with Frenchy stamps, and those John can have in the house. He doesn't mind lemony the soaps, he doesn’t even mind lilac soaps if they are mild. His dad always used Dr. Bronner’s which smells terrible, but it is fun to read the bottle and imagine what a nutcase he was. He also was pretty utilitarian.

In the 1970s John's dad used BRUT 45. You never smell that anymore, but it was the smell of guys back then. There was Old Spice and there was BRUT 45 with that unmistakable green bottle with a long neck and a black spinner cap on top. He would splash a little bit of that aftershave on him and smell like that all day, but it mixed with his own smell. He didn't just smell like BRUT 45, but it smelled like BRUT 45 mixed with John’s dad, a unique potpourri of different masculine scents. John never took that up.

Hair products

For a little while in High School John used Vitalis. His hair looked like he was wearing a bowl made out of straw and the other kids were using gel to make their hair stand up and look pointy. His mom said: ”Well, when I was in High School boys used Vitalis” and so John bought that. It gives you a greaser look because it is half rubbing alcohol, half cooking oil. John would put it in his hair and comb it greasy over to the side.

All the kids in High School wondered what was wrong with him, but they said that every day about everything he did and he would say he didn't like gel because it was dumb. He didn't know what he was talking about and he was just being difficult. John still has that bottle of Vitalis from High School because he only used a tiny bit and he kept putting it in every box when he moved from one bathroom to the next. He is pretty sure it is still half full. It doesn't go bad, it is alcohol and cooking oil and the alcohol keeps the oil from going rancid.

At one point John was at the Drugstore, going up and down the aisles and looking at all the products, not entirely sure what he was looking for. He came upon a section of hair products for black people and there was a can of pomade called King's hairdressing or something like that for only $5, which was quite a bit less than the other stuff.

John was intrigued and wondered what this did for African-American hair that it wouldn't also do for him. Does it activate? John doesn’t know what that means but it says on black hair products that it activates. John did definitely feel like you could activate his hair. He bought that stuff that is the type of thing you put in the palm of your hand and rub your two hands together. It is kind of waxy, but if you rub it together really fast until it gets warm then it gets oily. John puts a little bit in his hair and when he brushes his bangs out of his face they stay brushed out.

Dan's reaction

All the other hygiene products are just baffling to John! What is he supposed to do with all of that? He doesn’t have any of it and nobody ever taught him how to use it. Every once in a while some podcast he is on is sponsored by some men's grooming stuff and some of it arrives in the mail for him. He puts it on the shelf, he looks at it, sometimes it smells like alcohol and other times it is too strong and he feels allergic to it, but mostly he just forgets it is there. There is moisturizer in the house, John just keeps forgetting that he has it.

Dan thinks that John could probably update his routine a little bit. He agrees that the fewer products you use the better and the less chemicals you expose yourself to the better. The traditional stuff from the grocery store at Target is full of chemicals! Dan wholeheartedly supports what John is doing, but he doesn’t understand why, if he had running water and access to shaving cream, gel or oil, he wouldn't want to use it, especially because he even used the phrase ”luxuriating in a bath” today. Dan has showered billions of times, but he hasn’t taken a bath since he no longer had to take a bath which was probably when he was 9 years old.

Dan has probably taken one to two baths post-puberty, usually with an insistent woman forcing him to do it with her. Dan has never been much of a bather, he was an excellent and very strong swimmer, he swam daily for many years as a kid, he has no problem with being in the water, he loves scuba, he loves snorkeling, but going into a bathtub, especially as a means to get clean? You don't get very clean by soaking in your own filth and showering is a much better way to get clean if that is your goal.

John has never heard of Merlin's shaving routine and does he want to hear anything less? It is a very in-depth process, Merlin uses an old-fashioned shaving brush, different kinds of razors, it is a whole process. He also has one of those leather belts and a straight razor that he sharpens.

Eric Corson, the bass player of The Long Winters uses a cup and a brush and a this and a that and a straight razor. John does like to luxuriate, but he also believes that privation and autonomy are super-important, not to build character, but as a component of character. He assumes there will come a day when he doesn’t have access to shaving cream, so why would he get used to it? Dan says that is crazy! One day he might not have access to ice cream, but that doesn't stop him from putting it in his coffee. If that were the case he should only eat or drink things that he can grow or farm himself and that he can guarantee he will always be able to do that.

Dan argues that John has to get rid of that Lawful Neutral rule! ”I'm not going to use shaving cream because at one point in the future I might not have access to shaving cream?” Even in a post-apocalyptic world they will still have containers of shaving cream up on the on the walls because no-one is going to loot those! Dan recommends John to get some Barbasol, which is $1.50 anywhere and he can use it like soap and he can use it as his hair style. John could spend $20 on this and he will have enough shaving cream to last him for the rest of his life and then he won't have an excuse of not having access to it. He can put that down in his basement with his rotating foodstuffs that he has for the post-apocalyptic time (see Apocalypse).

It is like John was living in a post-apocalyptic world but only as it relates to shaving. If a limited apocalypse happened tomorrow where we were just off the electrical grid and had no water, Dan wouldn't shave with a dry razor and no shaving cream, but he would just grow a full beard no matter how it looked because he would be a barbarian at that point! He would be killing everybody so it wouldn't matter. The idea of using a disposable razor is just plain crazy!

Real razors cost $40, which is bananas, and they are kept in a special part of the drug store because people shoplift them. Dan uses an electric razor, but that would be another thing that costs money and that you would have to maintain. You have to plug it in and all these things! The nice ones come with a little base station and you just chuck it in the base station, it cleans it for you, it charges it for you and then it is right there and ready to go the next time. That feels like an eel to John, like a Remora, something that sucks onto you like to a shark in the ocean. ”The things you own own you? Tyler Durden type stuff?” It is just one more thing.

Free things in hotels

When John is in a fancy hotel and there is really good soap, he will put the soap in his bag and give it to a lady friend because he knows that soap is a commodity that people want and like. Sometimes he stays in hotels that have brand-name soaps. If he needs to wash his hair in a hotel he uses their fancy shampoo, but if he opens it and uses it he won't put it in his bag and he won't take it home. Little mini fancy shampoos only have any value if they are unopened, basically like a Star Wars figure: You want it in its original packaging. John used to stay at the Chateau Marmont a lot and they have their own cool little branded shampoo. He would always bring it home and give it out and it was a gift that would be appreciated.

Not wanting to be blackmailed, body wash

Sometimes John doesn't put salt on his food because he needs to be prepared for a time when salt becomes an expensive commodity. It is all part of a general policy of not being blackmailable. He doesn’t want to be blackmailed and his antidote is to not have any secrets and to not need anything because if you need stuff then you can be extorted like ”I have the thing you need and if you want it you have to do this!” John tries not to need anything so that no-one can ever own him. He doesn’t want to be beholden to anyone for anything, and he would rather do it himself, know that he could do it himself, or be used to doing it himself.

John doesn’t want anybody to have any leverage. Sometimes he washes his hair with a bar of soap, just to remind himself that he doesn’t deserve nice things, in case he will fall into that mode of: ”I deserve nice things!” John understands that bars of lye are bad soaps. He understands that just getting the cheapest soap at the drugstore is not very kind to yourself and a more gentle soap is good. A bar of soap makes sense and making one out of nicer things makes sense, but soap in a bottle or ”body wash”? You can go fuck yourself with body wash!

Dan agrees with John on that one. Body wash is a product geared toward women because men, especially men who have any body hair at all, need real soap that lathers ferociously, like in the movie Gattaca where he is scrubbing himself in the little chamber shower because he has to get rid of all the extra DNA that is on him. Women seem to like body wash and liquid soap. Having a bar of soap and a wash cloth you can lather that thing up and go crazy with it, or you can make do with just your hands and a bar of soap in a shower as a man, but women don't do this!

Women are always exfoliating. They wash themselves with strange plastic balls of mesh, like fishing nets with small holes, scrunched up with a string in the middle to keep them as a ball. They pour body wash on it and scrub their whole body with it. If you do that as a man you will pollute the mesh thing with body hair which is disgusting and you will have to throw it away. Also, it is unpleasant. Women don't usually have that problem.

Not using products is an intimate topic to John because of not wanting to be beholden. He is 100% beholden to gas stations and AT& fucking T, and he is fairly beholden to Google and Apple because he got sucked in. There were no computers in the Montessori school John visited today and the teacher said ”Well, if we want the kids to use computers they can go to the public library, which is only a couple blocks away. We all have library cards, but we don't need computers. We are working on things like knitting.”

John never learned to knit, but he would love to knit! He loves knitted garments and if he could just sit and knit himself a sweater, he would have so many rad sweaters. Of course all his friends would be like: ”Not another scarf!”, but if he needed to knit something, he wouldn’t knit something for his grandkids, but he would knit himself colorful sweaters with devils on them and stuff! John already has very cool sweaters, but he would be the sweater king of Chicago (reference to sausage king of Chicago).

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