I Heart The Sixties
I’m a real sucker for the advertising stylings of the Sixties. The extra lengths advertising executives went to to make you feel like you’d just purchased the world’s greatest whatever-it-was… Astonishing, really. Sixties, you had me at Gold Tassels On Your Owner’s Manual. Check out this little gem:
The Lady Shavex. There were actually two of them on display at the estate sale. The other one was baby blue and looked like it had been used maybe once or twice. But this one? It looked it had never been opened. Just to keep the whole thing contained on my way to the checkout table, I stuck the razor, the cord and the tiny, tiny container of “hair powder” into the handsome gold carrying case. When I got to the register, the lady charged me for a “clutch”, which I thought was charming. I paid for a clutch and I got a razor for free.
What in the hell would make a person buy such a thing? Nostalgia, people. Plain and simple. My mother, when I turned 13 or so, handed me a very similar box, and told me it was a gift from my grandmother. I was “becoming a woman” back then, and apparently, I would be needing an antique shaving device that worked by vibrating the hair out of your follicles, it was that fucking loud. I tucked that thing down, way down, beneath the pantyhose and slips in my sock drawer and vowed never to shave my legs (or whatever other region of my body it was for… arms? neck? belly button?) It went missing in the era between “We Are The World” and Young MC’s “Bust A Move” and I never thought about it again.
Fast forward to this weekend. I’m standing knee deep in a room full of Christmas decorations and books about weight loss at an estate sale and all of a sudden I see the Lady Shavex and I am overcome with this burning need to replace that razor of my youth with this shiny new one. I convince myself that having an electric razor would be preferable to the disposable plastic razor I currently use. I fork over a dollar for the privilege of ownership, and I am in seventh heaven.
Sometimes I wonder how far women have come in being able to announce our hygiene routines to the world. I mean, the men’s razor CLH owns rests in hard-backed silver briefcase, for God’s sake. The thing weighs something like 14 pounds. And the razor itself? A massive black buzzing phallus. If they could find a way to engineer it without imposing bodily harm, I’m pretty sure men’s razors would be shaped like mini-chainsaws and would come with leather work gloves and a tool belt. Why do women have to hide the fact that they ALSO remove hair from their bodies by putting the instrument in a gold bag? (Suddenly, Mad Men is making a whole lot more sense to me. This is Peggy Olson’s doing, isn’t it?)
I showed the whole set to my friend Ruth who immediately burst out with, “OMIGOD! It’s the GOLD BAG!” Turns out, growing up, her family must have owned the Lady Shavex too… only the bag had been requisitioned for things like tweezers and nail files and the Lady Shavex was free to roam the linen closet. That’s right. HER Lady Shavex was all “WHAT?? THAT’S RIGHT! I’m A RAZOR, suckas! I don’t hide in no carrying case! I don’t know why that particular razor talked like Rosie Perez. Sometimes razors are tough like that.
I gave it the test. There were two settings: legs and underarms. To be honest, I didn’t give it much of a chance. I thought: well, it’s not going to cut as close as my disposable lavender colored Lady Schick, is it? Well, Ladies, it did. My legs are silky smooth and I didn’t even have to use the icky hair powder!
Another Sixties favorite of mine at estate sales: cookbooks. The pictures of creamed EVERYthing in casserole dishes accented by things like silver coffee services and doilies just DOES something to me. Maybe it makes me long for the days when everything could be solved by just the right ratio of cottage cheese to pineapple rings. There is just something so reassuring about these recipes. The text around them is always so damned encouraging. There was no concern for any one’s impacted colon, just the way their reaction to your sour cherry and lamb souffle made you feel. “Your hot dog casserole will be sure to please the WHOLE crowd, young and old alike!” “Your teens will sing your praises if you interrupt their yearbook committee meeting with a tray of Tang and deviled ham sandwiches!” “Your husband’s poker buddies might be tempted to ask you to join them with this ham and artichoke bake!”
THIS cookbook, however, had some “advice” for the new housewife. Little nuggets of wisdom to help her through her day of dumping cans of cream of mushroom soup over cans of ham before she hit up the medicine cabinet for her “headache” pills. Take this one:
Good point, Dr. J. Better to be full of Mayonnaise, Frankfurters, and Olive Puffs than to listen to your wife. After all, what could SHE possibly have to say? It’s all Greek to us anyway! Am I right, fellas? Am I right?
When I was growing up, I almost never saw my mother consult a cookbook. She pulled out the tattered ol’ Betty Crocker Cookbook around Christmastime to get her cookie recipes out (I still use those same exact recipes today when I make Christmas cookies), but I never saw her actually read a cookbook the way I read my cookbooks. Thank God, too. I mean, my cookbooks are full of feel good advice about food and community and health tips and measurement conversions and whole sections dedicated to mail order addresses for unusual grains and beans and spices. No one’s telling me to shut my mouth and put a roast on the table because 9 out of 10 families agree that that’s my job.
See how far we’ve come? We still hide away all the accoutrement of our daily routine, but we can at least serve salad for dinner and not feel like complete failures.