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Lenado lab: Liquor, razor blades and espionage

Gaylord Guenin

Our secret laboratory in Lenado has been filled with so much outrageous activity lately that it appears the place is no longer much of a secret. In fact, during the recent hunting season a couple of guys from Wisconsin wandered into the inner sanctum of the lab, into an extremely secure area where nuclear experiments and research are carried out.

They were nice enough guys and explained they were just looking for a place where they might get some beer. This was, however, a serious breach of security. Old Bob, the lab’s part-time security director, suffered the consequences of all this, but things actually worked out pretty much in his favor.

The lab’s directors figured it might not be a bad idea to keep some beer and booze on site in case other hunters or snowmobilers or whoever might stumble into the place looking to wet their whistles, so a small room was set aside as a liquor store. Old Bob, who is a favorite at the lab, was rehired and now is in charge of liquor sales.

Because someone apparently believed the liquor store was more important than lab security, Old Bob went from part time to full time and managed to get a raise in the process. Life is good at Lenado’s secret laboratory.

The reason for the sudden burst of activity at the lab was a super-secret project with the code name “Cinco.” I will probably lose my liquor store privileges for telling you this, but the guys in the lab have been trying to perfect a razor with five blades. Quite a few years ago, Gillette came out with its Sensor, a razor with two blades instead of the conventional single blade. Schick, the other major razor company, quickly followed with dual blades of its own. So the competition was elevated to a new level, and a couple of years ago Gillette jumped to the forefront again with its Mach 3, a razor with three blades, of course.

So what should be expected next? That should be pretty obvious. Within the past couple of months, Schick, with a blistering ad campaign, introduced the Quattro, a razor with ” you guessed it ” four blades!

I don’t have a great deal of disposable income, so I am rather frugal when it comes to buying gadgets of any sort. You know what I mean ” stuff that looks in the slick television infomercials as if it might change your life, but after having it in your home for a few months it is assigned to the garage-sale pile. So I pass up the knife sets that stay sharp forever and those clever chopper things that produce gallons of salsa.

But new razors are a different story.

If a new razor hits the market, I must have it. I am the ultimate sucker in this arena, a walking, spending wet dream for every flimflam man in the razor industry. When I joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1952 I was issued a Gillette Safety Razor, the industry standard for years. Somewhere in my junk is a Gillette Adjustable, which is nothing more than a safety razor that can be adjusted to alter the angle of the blade. It allows you to either take an occasional nick out of your face or really do some serious gouging. I didn’t use that razor very long but it illustrates my susceptibility in this particular area.

Gillette’s first three-bladed razor was called the Mach 3. Within the past year the company added the word Turbo to the name and it became the Mach 3 Turbo. I doubt if any of the changes from the original razor to the new one were anything more than cosmetic, but that didn’t stop me from reaching into my wallet and buying one.

And when Schick began trumpeting the Quattro, I became so excited I asked the ladies at the Woody Creek Store if they would pick up one for me on their regular shopping tour, which they did because they care for their customers.

I can’t tell much difference between the Quattro and the Mach 3 Turbo, so I await the arrival of the Cinco with great anticipation. However, it appears the Cinco will not be produced in Lenado’s top-secret lab. One of the scientists in the lab told me, “What is needed isn’t more blades on the razor. What is needed is a truly sharp blade that will stay sharp for more than a single shave.”

My scientific friend probably is correct, so I asked him why the lab doesn’t work on producing a better blade. In a low whisper, he said that had been their intention but they suddenly obtained an unbelievably lucrative contract from Halliburton, so they dropped the razor-blade project. He said the contract was gained in a rather surreptitious manner via a vice president of a very powerful nation and that he simply was not at liberty to disclose any names. He was willing, however, to say that they currently were hiring technicians who could speak Urdu or Arabic.

He also suggested that national security might become an issue and that it probably was best if I didn’t spend too much time hanging around the lab. He did assure me, however, that the Halliburton connection would not alter operating hours at the lab’s liquor store. Good news indeed!

So while the boys in the lab tinker with the world’s and Halliburton’s future (I guess that is what they are doing), I can lay back with a fresh martini and monitor television advertising for a sign of the arrival of the Cinco, which I firmly believe will be the “razor of the future.”

This is the 297th article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place where secret laboratories have operated for years in basements, barns and abandoned mine shafts.


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