So what do you do for the guy that has everything?
When it comes to gift giving, I hate just buying some random thing off the rack. I agonize over finding the perfect thing (or experience, as the case may be) and would rather find one small unique item than have 10 off the shelf things that he could walk into Best Buy and get himself.
Needless to say, it's always a pretty daunting task and I always try to be alert for clues he might give me for things he might enjoy (this is one of the many fun parts of marriage I think).
One of these mental notes was logged as we were trawling through some shops in the Ponte Di Rialto in Venice a couple of Christmases ago. I was testing out handcrafted perfumes bottled in stunning hand-blown Murano glass vessels when Jason noticed a display of shaving sets among the men's toiletries (I should note that I was the one who dragged him into the store in the first place...). There is something decidedly manly and old-school about a well crafted shaving set and the man-appeal is upped probably about 90% when a classic straight razor is involved. Men and dangerous objects. Sigh.
Profumiere without buying one of the sets (I did score a bottle of that perfume but it met an untimely end in my bathroom just a few months later) but he brought them up occasionally in the months that followed. A couple of weeks ago, I was doing my daily (ok, several-times-daily) check of Etsy and discovered a complete gem of a shop called Orangefuzz: two artists making scrumptious health and beauty products. One of their featured items was a shaving kit complete with shaving soap, brush, aftershave and bar soap. As if it wasn't already cool enough, the shaving soap is made with beer (you can't smell it but apparently something in beer is good for the skin...and I mean, come on, how much manlier can you get than soap made from a good stout!) and it's all packaged in a vintage cigar box. WIN! Everything smells amazing and in the words of the Orangefuzz artists, "deliciously masculine".
The only thing missing was the razor. I knew I didn't want just any old razor so I started researching straight razors and happened upon a rather large and dedicated online community of classic shaving enthusiasts and historians. I had a specific razor in mind: a vintage US Army issued razor. As fortune would have it, my inquiry was met with several responses describing the history of such a find (the Army issue ones are apparently pretty rare and it's even more rare to find one in good enough shape to shave with or even get to shaving quality) and one collector had the one I was looking for: a J. R. Torrey blade in perfect condition that he was willing to sell for a decent price.
You're probably wondering why I'm posting all of this online if it's supposed to be a gift for Jason's birthday...
Unfortunately, it's impossible to keep secrets from him. I made the mistake of saying I had gotten him an awesome gift and after only describing it as "manly", he guessed on the first try. I can't keep a straight face...so he found out. So now he just needs to get himself home so I can give all this awesomeness to him and I suppose I'd better be armed with lots of bandaids and 911 on speed dial... ;)