The Edge

When I was a small boy, I cut my hand with a double-edged razor blade.

It didn’t hurt — at least I don’t remember any pain — but the bright red blood shocked me. It was flowing out of my hand, I couldn’t even see the cut, and it wouldn’t stop. When I touched it, it got all over my other hand, and then all over my T-shirt when I tried to wipe it off. I was paralyzed with fear, and the blood kept pouring out of the invisible cut. I had two thoughts more or less simultaneously: I want my mother, and there is no way I can explain this to her.

I can’t even explain it to myself, looking back at it through the fog of many decades. What was I doing, that breezy Spring day, walking across a baseball field playing with a Gillette Blue Blade? I can see this blade now in my mind, and it was clean and blue and shiny. Not a rusty old blade that you might find under the bleachers, although why would it be under the bleachers at a municipal ballpark? How did I get my hands on it?I don’t remember, but it seems now that there must have been only two ways: Either I took it from my father’s shaving stuff in the bathroom, or somebody out on the baseball field gave it to me.

That type of blade came in a cool dispenser — a flat blue plastic box with a thumb hole on one side and a slot on one end. You could see the center of the top blade through the hole, and you’d put your thumb on that part of the blade, sliding it out through the slot at the end, Blue-Bladesdirectly into the razor. The next blade would then be visible in the hole, ready for the next change, but the main thing is your razor would be loaded and ready to go without you ever touching those dangerous sharp edges.

Maybe after seeing my father perform this procedure I just had to try it myself. Only of course I ended up with the blade in my hands, not in a razor. A safety razor, as they were called.

I remember thinking, out on the field, with the green grass stretching hundreds of yards in all directions and the warm sun and the pleasant breeze, there is no danger here. This blade is not so sinister. See how it bends and flexes, not at all like a dangerous knife. Why is everybody so nervous about these things? Why have I been kept away from them all this time?

I remember walking while I thought these thoughts, and it was somewhere in the bending and flexing and scoffing that the blood started pouring out of my hand. I had almost convinced myself that this was not even a real blade, that it was just a benign plastic replica, a prop. It couldn’t possibly have just cut me. I had felt nothing, and now there was all this blood. I was afraid and confused. Afraid of the frailty of my skin, confused over the treachery of the blade, shiny and blue and smiling and innocent, like the devil. This blade had fooled me, lulled me into carelessness. I’d been laughing at it, and then it had turned on me.

Of course I ran home. I was a small child, and I didn’t know what else to do. I sensed that I would be in some trouble over playing with razor blades, but also I knew my mother would clean the wound and bandage it, and maybe if I played my cards right I wouldn’t get spanked or yelled at.

In any case, I felt it was worth the gamble. Much later I would develop the resources to take care of my own wounds, the better to deceive not just my mother, but everyone.

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