AFL Round 5 – Hawthorn v North Melbourne: A close shave

I love shaving. Every stage has its own sensation and reward. The ritual is almost as beguiling as the act. If the value of shaving was determined through the prism of economic theory it would be seen as a low risk high return venture.

Somewhere in the last ten years the beard started to find favour. What is the origin of this iteration of the beard’s appeal? My guess is that bands like Fleet Foxes and My Morning Jacket had something to do with giving it an undeserved cachet. Out of a cool, indie, hipster vibe of authenticity and integrity has grown an urban jungle of hairy monsters.

Not for me the beard, no thank you. Last weekend I was fortunate to have two shaves. That’s champagne time. On Friday I had a haircut. A Number Two Razor was run over a pate that is more skin than hair these days.

Then my barber (All The King’s Men, Queensberry St, North Melbourne) asked the question I hang for each time I visit. Would you like the back of your neck shaved? Why thank you good sir. I drive home, running my fingers over the barest of stubble and into hair cut so short it stands as the fingers run through it. Small pleasures have it all over the big bangs. And the sensation feeling your own shaved nape is a small but incontestable pleasure.

The real pleasurable shave is the face. I have not ventured past the blade and hot water to the electric shaver such is the razor’s magnetism. Running the face washer through hot (very hot) water while shaking the can of shaving cream begins this seemingly unremarkable endeavour. Don’t be fooled. As the steaming hot cloth touches the face the eyes become alert to the moment, the mind steadies and spirit rises. Lathered cream (gel, pfff, you’ve got to be joking) builds the moment. The blade, light reflected off its edge by the mirror, tantalizes before hitting the skin at a force strong enough to cut hard but gentle enough to protect from danger.

I shave the left side of my neck up to my jaw bone and complete my neck before moving to my face. I have shaved like this since I was 15. I finish by shaving my chin, the last stroke removing the stubble beneath the middle of my lower lip. I clean my face and enjoy the smoothness created. I love it. Shaving is an unadulterated delight. That keeps on giving. Shave after shave, year after year.

So why, tell me why are close shaves on the football field so unbearable. I hold a bloody blade as close to my jugular as can be every other morning but I can’t watch my team rough ride through 5 bumpy minutes for four premiership points of glory.

Take Sunday’s game against the Roos. The Hawks threatened to run away with the game but never did. Norths stayed on our heels and then took the lead. The Hawks composure, leadership group and Rioli (mainly Rioli) got us home. My nerves were jangly and I could barely concentrate. That was two hours after the game.

The Hawthorn vs North Melbourne game was so bloody tight that it took until the next day to appreciate that it was actually a really good game of footy. It told us how good the Roos are even though they’ve hardly translated that to premiership points (yet). It also told us about their key weaknesses. (That’s confidence and team maturation, as well as a defined and strategic forward line structure by the way).

I have watched the Hawks in four close shaves (two wins, two losses, including the bloody GF and the bloody Cats) in the last seven games they have played. And I haven’t enjoyed a one. Yes, we got away with a win on Sunday so that’s cool (thank you Junior, Mighty Mitch, Bailey and Lake, yes, Lake). But wins, however they are gained, should fill me with delight. In terms of gratification, close shave footy wins are inversely proportional to the experience of close shave shaves.

Malarkey votes: Rioli (H) 3; Lake (H) 2; Thomas (NM) 1.

About Rick Kane

Up in the mornin', out on the job Work like the devil for my pay But that lucky old sun has nothin' to do But roll around Heaven all day


  1. Stephen Cooke says

    Mr Kane,
    I hate the close shaves in finals, but love them in home and away. Geelong’s first four games this year were a joy to watch but the Dogs game without its possibility of defeat (yes, I know they finished fast, but Geelong don’t drop those games) felt like a wasted weekend. Bring on that adrenaline rush.

  2. R Kane – it seems we differ on two critical points that define our very existence; shaving and Hawthorn. Not a big fan of either (though I respect both of them).

    However, since I discovered a magnificent product called King of Shaves (which is a shaving gel applied to the skin BEFORE the shaving cream) I have found the whole shaving experience vastly improved.

    Loved the piece.

  3. Lord Bogan says

    Butter solution RK, ala Kramer and Costanza? Add a bit of seasoning and you’ll smell delicious.

  4. Nice work Rick. It all got too much for me on Sunday so I turned off the radio and went and looked for something else to do. I should have had a shave.

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