by Will Schreiber

Shaving and being human

In Slaughterhouse-Five, Billy is captured during the Battle Of The Bulge.

Billy is a worthless soldier. He doesn’t like war and refuses to fight. He’s always aloof. He wears an oversized, makeshift robe instead of a uniform. He doesn’t carry a knife or a gun.

Before being shipped off to Dresden, the Germans joined together Billy’s troop with a group of British prisoners.

The Brits, trying to make the best of the situation, welcome the Americans with a silly skit they’d prepared. They toast to their new comrades.

Meanwhile, having accepted his pending death, Billy sulks in the corner.

One of the Englishmen, envious of Billy’s lack of care, explains to Billy that he still shaves his face every day and looks himself in the mirror to check his posture.

I think about this line every month or so.

He said that he had seen several men die in the following way: “They ceased to stand up straight, then ceased to shave or wash, then ceased to get out of bed, then ceased to talk, then died.”

Keep shaving and standing up straight.