Due to a glitch in the space-time continuum we’ve received this diary entry, sent back in time from 1,000 years into the future.
I’ve discovered an ancient and long-forgotten secret. It’s incredible, a complete game changer.
I don’t normally keep a diary, but this moment is so exciting I had to record it. I had a problem, but now I’ve got a solution that is so simple, so efficient, so perfect, it almost seems too good to be true. I’ll explain what I’ve discovered, but first, here’s how it happened.
My de-bearder finally packed in yesterday and of course you can’t buy them anymore. I got seven years out of it, rather than the usual five, so I shouldn’t be too frustrated. The planned obsolescence indicator had been on red for a few months, but I was able to stretch it out. I did the usual foil-lined bag trick to stop the manufacturer’s signal getting through to it. It worked for a while, but I had to take the de-bearder out of the bag to use it, so it was never going to last forever. Previously, I had looked into whether I could hack the PO chip, but it’s a sealed unit and impossible to get into without destroying it.
It’s crazy to think that before the Planned Obsolescence Act of 2085, manufacturers didn’t have to put an indicator on their products. They’d just stop - pffft - with no warning, when you least expected it. Apparently, the government brought the law in after everyone’s phones stopped working on the day a new model was announced.
When I told the lads about my de-bearder they just laughed and couldn’t believe I was still using old chem-tech. “That’s so last century!” They’ve all got sub-dermal follicular inhibitors now. I reminded them that I’ve had all my implants removed for work. The electromagnets on the shuttle motor drives are too strong and would rip the implants from my cheeks. I don’t want that.
The gene therapies look good, especially now they’ve finally fixed those unfortunate side-effects. Who wants to glow in the dark, sneeze constantly, or be stuck with an overwhelming urge to eat cheese? The cost is way out of my league, though. If I save my off-planet bonus for the next few shifts then I might be able to get it on finance, but I can’t go around with a beard until then, looking like an extra in a historical drama.
Plus, I can’t be bothered with the hassle of getting red-flagged at the facial recognition gates. I can imagine the arguments with the Border Bots.
“Unexpected item in scanning area. Please remove unexpected item from scanning area.”
“I can’t, it’s a beard! I don’t want it there either, but my de-bearder obsoleted itself, I’m not allowed implants because of my job, and I can’t afford gene therapy. What else am I supposed to do?”
It would be a nightmare.
There seemed to be no solution except to try and make a de-bearder myself. I still had some capsules of the solution, so I just needed to work out how to apply it. As an engineer, I’m pretty handy, but I’m more comfortable dealing with massive lunar atmosphere units. Work this fiddly is not what I’m best at. I knew the basic principles though, so gave it a go.
The first prototype looked promising so I tried it on the cat. The results were patchy at best and I think it will be some time before she’ll forgive me.
After some tweaking, I tried the second iteration on myself and it was a disaster. I can’t get the tolerances as fine as on the real de-bearder, so some parts were left untouched, other parts were burnt and blistered, and I was a millimetre away from losing an ear.
I went outside to think and bumped into the old bloke who is our block’s groundskeeper. He remarked on the dodgy state of my face so I explained my predicament and finished by saying “I don’t understand why we even have beards. We’ve evolved not to have head hair, toenails and fingernails, so why hasn’t our facial hair gone too? It’s bizarre.”
He responded to my rant by saying “The groundskeeper role may be an honorary position these days, but do you know where it came from?”
I professed my ignorance, barely hiding my exasperation at the old man’s riddles.
He continued, “It used to be a real job, tending to gardens, sporting arenas and the like.” My lack of patience must have been showing as he put a hand on my arm as if to stop me walking away. “One of the main duties of the old groundskeepers was to cut the grass when it grew.”
“When it... grew?”
“The grass we have now is genetically modified to only reach a certain length. Until a few hundred years ago it just carried on growing and had to be cut.”
He had captured my interest. “What did they use? Did they have blades?”
“Yes, but not the ones you would be familiar with.” He explained that the blades we have now were once called ‘light-blades’. Before the portable cutting laser was developed, the word ‘blade’ referred to a piece of metal with a sharp edge and they were used to cut all sorts of things. After some coaxing on his part, I finally realised what he was getting at.
I could use this centuries-old ‘original-blade’ concept to slice through the hair on my face, just like the original groundskeepers cut the grass. No chemical solutions, lasers, implants, gene editing or anything like that. Just a piece of sharpened metal.
The idea sounded bizarre and frankly barbaric, but I looked through the history chronicles and apparently it was considered the norm a thousand years ago. Now, I can’t believe anyone ever saw fit to complicate things and forget such a simple idea.
In my workshop, I printed out a small rectangle of metal with a fine edge. It cut through the hair easily, but was difficult to hold and I sliced my finger. I made a handle for the blade. It was easier to use, but the blade still skipped and caught on my skin. At work, we use lubricants to keep components moving smoothly, so I rubbed some oil on my face. The blade glided perfectly, cutting the hair so close to the skin that I went giddy with excitement. My face was so smooth I couldn’t stop stroking it.
The next step is to see if I can combine multiple blades for extra efficiency. Then I’ll have something really special.
This post is the third in a series commissioned from Jonathan S. Bean a freelance writer and charity fundraiser by King of Shaves.
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