Tuesday, March 6, 2012

On personal hygiene...

Ok, so sometimes I don't shave for a few days (maybe two weeks) and I look a bit scruffy. I always make a point of showering and putting on (mostly) clean clothes--like any good straight-ish gay man I do the smell test to determine whether or not a garment is safe for airing in a public space. Today I went to get my hair cut so I could look good for the conference. I suppose I'll also have to trim my beard and shave.

Before I re-entered the world of academia I had to shave every day for my corporate gig and I loathed it. Who really wants to scrape a sharp bit of disposable metal along delicate skin and so close to major arteries. My chronic razor burn prompted a coworker to ask if I had a break out of eczema on my neck. Last Winter I shaved only on the days I had to teach (twice a week). If I had to go to campus on any other days I'd lock myself into my office so no one would see my slovenly self.

I used to mock the popular caricature of the male grad student: unshaven, tired-looking, wrinkled clothing, absent-minded, and sometimes lacking the olfactory capacity to recognise when he is in dire need of a shower. I've come to embody the first four symptoms, but, thankfully, have been spared the embarrassment of the fifth. I see lots of grad students who manage to look fresh all the time, the very model of contemporary fashion and regard them with an awe and wonder that borders on professional jealousy. My own rigid fashion protocol at least ensures I'm not mistaken for a strung out heroin junkie, homeless person, or Conservative Member of Parliament drummed out of caucus for not towing the party line.

Yes, I will clean up for the conference. But I won't like it.

Update: The day after I posted this the water was shut off in our apartment building. There was no warning from the property management. Consequently I had to take a sponge bath with water leftover in the kettle and had to leave the apartment without showering. By the time I got home from the library I felt like I was covered with a patina of slime and stench with an olfactory radius of at least 10 ft. My shower before dinner time felt so sweet!

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