“What’s all this stuff on your counter?”
“There’s a bunch of stuff on my counter, you’re going to have to be a little more specific.” His voice was muffled from behind the shower curtain and the spray of water coming from his shower head.
Pam poked her head back into the shower. Jim was rinsing the last of his shampoo out of his hair. She couldn’t help but grin at the view. Casting a very appreciative eye over Jim’s physique she tore her gaze away and looked back at the counter in his bathroom.
“This little silver stand with the brush and weird handle thing. Also, what’s with the bowl right next to it?”
Jim shook his head sending water flying from his hair. “You mean my shaving kit?”
Pam’s eyebrows launched upwards. “That’s a shaving kit?”
“Yeah,” Jim answered as if it was glaringly obvious. “Pam you lived with Roy for years. I’m sure you’ve seen a razor before.”
“That’s a razor?” Pam looked back at the countertop.
Turning off the water, Jim let himself drip dry for a moment. “Of course, it is.”
“Not like any guys razor I’ve ever seen. Defiantly not like anything Roy ever had.”
“Let me guess, he was more of a disposable two blade Bic kind of guy and the cheapest can of white shaving cream he could get.”
Jim threw back the shower curtain and reached for a towel. He was shocked to see the hooks next to his shower that usually held two towels were both empty. A giggle behind him caused him to turn around. He cocked an eyebrow at her when he saw where the towels had gone. One around Pam’s torso, the other wrapped around her hair.
“What?” she asked demurely.
His annoyance was short lived when he remembered that after so many long years, Pam Beesly was finally in his bathroom with him. She’d also been in the shower with him that morning and his bed the previous night which also dispelled any lingering feelings of displeasure. Instead he simply stepped off his shower mat and pulled a fresh towel from the small linen closet in the room.
“To answer you,” Pam went on as Jim toweled off. “I don’t think Roy really ever cared what kind of razor he used. I was always in charge of grocery shopping and just got the cheapest stuff I could find. I was trying to save for a wedding remember.”
“Which would explain a lot of the toilet paper squares on his face in the morning I’m sure,” said Jim as he wrapped the towel around his waist.
“I’m surprised you noticed that.”
Jim crossed over to her and tilted her chin up for quick kiss. “I noticed you. And because I noticed you, other details got stuck in there too.”
Pam hummed in pleasure at the brief kiss. Her eyes darted back to the metal stand on the sink. “All well and good, but you still haven’t answered my question. What is all that?”
“This my dear,” Jim said as he picked up the odd instrument. “Is a safety razor, lather brush, and lather bowl. The rest is in the drawer.”
“There’s more?” Pam was again shocked. “How much stuff does a guy need to shave his face?”
Jim shrugged. “Depends on how much effort you want to put into it. Water, a can of Barbasol, and those cheap plastic Bic things will work of course. But my Grandpa told me once, ‘a truly close shave takes time, tools, and technique. Master all three and you’ll be ready to take on the world.’”
“Well? Go on then.” Pam took a seat on the toilet and gestured for him to continue.
“You want to watch me shave?”
“After a set-up like that, I’m curious. I also demand commentary.”
“So bossy,” he smirked at her and walked to the sink.
Jim turned on the water and adjusted it to run warm. He pulled the stopper and the sink started to fill with water. Next, he opened the top drawer and pulled out two small bottles that could have been mistaken for hand lotion and one round disk-shaped container. In addition to those he also produced a small cardboard box. When the sink was filled to his satisfaction, Jim turned off the water. He reached down to scoop some water in his hand and wetted his face. After shaking off the excess drops, he held up the first bottle.
“First we have pre-shave oil.” Flipping open the cap he squeezed out a small amount into his hands and started rubbing on his face. “It adds an additional layer of lubrication and protection to the skin.”
Pam reached over and brought the still open bottle to her nose. “So that’s where the smell comes from.”
“What smell?” Jim looked over at her.
“I always though you wore cologne.” She held up the bottle. “Turns out it was this.”
Jim grinned at her. “Stay with me Beesly, you have much to learn.”
Next, he opened the disk-shaped container and used a finger to scoop out a small glob of the paste within. He smeared it on the sides of the small bowl on the sink. Dipping his finger in the water to wash off the excess he then picked up the brush off the stand and let it soak in the water.
“This is shaving soap,” he explained. “Grandpa was pretty insistent that a man should never put propane on his face to shave. That’s the most common kind of propellant used in bottled shaving cream,” he added when he saw Pam’s confused look.
Reaching back into the sink he pulled out the small brush and held it up for Pam to see. “Badger-hair shave brush. Used to create a nice lather and then apply said later to the face.”
Suiting actions to words, Jim starting vigorously circling the brush in the bowl. The bristles and water quickly caused the soap in the bowl to form a frothy lather. Jim kept up the motion until the lather had the consistency of yogurt. He made sure the brush had enough soap on it and started to apply the lather to his face.
Pam sat entranced. She knew Jim didn’t have much artistic ability, however the deft stokes of the brush on his face felt familiar to her.
“It’s like painting,” she said quietly.
Jim looked over at her and smirked for an instant. He turned back to the mirror and made sure his face was nicely covered with white lather. Setting the brush in the bowl he placed those to the side and picked up the cardboard box.
“Double edge safety razors,” he said and slid one out. “They go in the handle that you were admiring earlier.”
On the small stand below the mirror, Jim picked up the silver handled implement Pam had noticed before. The circular handle gave way to a half dome shaped bulge at the top. Jim twisted the end of the handle and the dome came apart with a clamshell like design. Setting the blade in the top of the handle, Jim closed the top and peered at the mirror.
Pam sat mesmerized. She watched as Jim started gliding the razor down his face. He used short strokes rather than the long sweeps she’d so often seen in commercials. After two or three stokes of the razor, he’d dip it in the water to wash off the accumulated later and spun the handle to use the other side. She could hear the slight scrape Jim guided the razor across his cheek.
This was a new experience for her. Casting back in her mind she thought of how rushed Roy often was when it came to shaving. A quick splash of water, a spurt of shaving cream, and hasty swipes of the blade across his face. Nothing like the time and care Jim was using. The small muscles in his left hand rippled as he gently held the skin by his chin taught so he could drift the razor over the area with his right hand. Each stoke of the silver handle was deft and delicate as he moved around his mouth. The same meticulous process was repeated on his other cheek and neck.
At last the last bits of lather were washed off. Jim gently tapped the razor against the edge of the sink to remove the last drops of water. Setting the razor on its stand, Jim leaned forward to get a closer look in the mirror.
“That’s pass number one,” he said as he leaned back from his inspection. Pushing the plug on the sink, he let the water drain out.
“Number one?” Pam shook her head slightly to clear the cobwebs from her slight daze.
Jim had the water running again to refill the sink. He was also reworking the later in the bowl as the water rose. “I usually do two passes. One with the grain of the hair, one cross grain. And if it’s a special occasion a third pass against the grain.”
“What makes it a special occasion?”
“Hmmm, good question.” Jim put a thoughtful look on his face. “Past special occasions have included the morning before a lunch time trip to Cuginos, a mandatory trip Michael had us take to a mini-golf course, right after I got out of work because I was throwing a barbeque at the old place Mark and I used to share, and most recently right after I got back from New York but before dinner that night.”
Warmth blossomed in Pam’s face that had nothing to do with the lingering humidity in the bathroom. She didn’t say anything. Rather, she let her smile talk for her as Jim reapplied soap.
Setting the bowl down again, Jim reached for the razor and again held it under the water for a few seconds before raising it to his cheek. Instead of downward strokes, he ran the blade sideways. Pam watched silently again. Her eyes drawn to the focus in Jim’s eyes as he moved. Once more the only sounds heard were the subtle scrape of the razor and the small splash as Jim washed the soap off.
When Jim’s face was again soap-free he set the razor on its stand again and leaned forward to inspect his handiwork. Using both sides of his fingers, he ran them across both sides of his face, across his jaw, and down his neck. The feeling of warmth flared up again as Pam watched. She swallowed the lump in her throat as memories of what those soft hands had done to her the previous night came to her mind. After watching the care he showed in his shaving routine, she no longer had to wonder where the exquisite control he’d displayed last night had come from.
“Finally, aftershave. Need to re-hydrate everything that the razor scraped off. ” Jim said once he was satisfied, he’d reached every spot with the razor and had patted his face dry with a hand towel.
He opened the second bottle and squeezed out a small portion of what looked like regular lotion. Spreading it around his face caused the subtle aloe fragrance to drift in the air. Combined with the earlier pre-shave oil, the scent triggered a host of memories in Pam’s mind. Each one of them associated with a time she’d been close to Jim. His smirk as he leaned over her desk to nab some jellybeans, shopping for fabric softener, holding hands while ice skating, a quick hug after her beachside speech, a desperate kiss on Casino Night.
She couldn’t help herself anymore. Standing up, she padded over to him as he washed his hands. Taking his face in her hands, she gently traced the tips of her fingers over his face. She turned his head from side to side and gazed intently at him.
“Meet your approval?” he asked huskily.
Her reply was to bring his lips down to hers. This time it was Pam’s pounding heart that was the dominant sound her ears. She felt his arms circle her as their lips glided over each other. She pulled back only slightly to slide her cheek along his as she kissed across his jaw line. The smooth skin only added to the heat building in her.
She leaned back further with a gleam in her eye. Taking his hand in hers, she reached for the bathroom door.
“Come on,” she said quietly.
As Pam led him out of the bathroom she glanced around his apartment. It was clean if a little untidy. Three towels on the floor outside Jim’s bedroom soon joined the clutter.