A Close Shave In Las Vegas

One of the interesting things about Las Vegas is that time and money lose a lot of meaning while you’re there.  You spend more time doing things than you normally would because there are no clocks anywhere and plentiful distractions to boggle the mind and the eye.  You spend more money than you normally would on things that you wouldn’t really even consider back at home.  A sort of mania takes over while you’re there — compounded if you’ve won while gambling, but even in my case without hitting the casinos at all I still was more than willing to spend money on stuff I wouldn’t ordinarily have bought.

The epitome of this was reached in the Grand Canal Shoppes in the Venetian and Palazzo complex.  The Wife and I were wandering around there and glanced inside The Art of Shaving.  Everything was hugely overpriced and I was initially more interested in the novelty of straight-razor shaving than anything else.  Next thing I knew, the clerk had stepped aside and the barber was giving me an education about how to hold the blade, the right pattern for getting the best shave, and discreetly getting me to admire his astonishingly smooth chin — and I was committing to buying all kinds of hyper-expensive product and getting a free shave in with the deal, because as it happened I had decided to skip my shave that morning.

With the Royal Shave, you get not only a hot towel wrap around your face followed by the tender ministrations of the barber.  You get some of the nice aromatherapy oils and a neck and scalp massage and some other product to clean you up and make you look and smell good.  But the shave’s the thing.  The complete decadence of leaning back in a comfortable barber’s chair and having another man apply an ultra-sharp blade to my face, rendering it smoother than it had been since puberty, was a pretty cool indulgence.  The money was one cost; time was the other.  The whole process took forty-five minutes to an hour.

I’d have thought the shave itself would have hurt less.  But in fact, I experienced some pain and burning on both the with-the-grain and against-the-grain passes over my face.  Worse, the no-alcohol balm applied afterwards was only partially effective at taking the residual burning away; I could still feel the burn several hours later.  I’ve shaved twice since then using a technique similar to the one I was taught at the Shaving Shoppe, and the burning has been lessened each time, as promised.  But, my shave has been closer and smoother, and that’s still using my vibrating Gillette Fusion blade.  Whether that’s from improved technique or better product is hard to say.

So no, I wouldn’t normally have spent that kind of money on that sort of thing.  But it was an indulgence, part of an indulgent series of days in a city built around providing opportunities for indulgences.

Oh, and Penn Jillette is a tall, tall man:

The Penn & Teller show was a lot of fun.  Much bang for the entertainment dollar to be had there.  I’m pretty sure I know how they did the trick with the cell phone and the frozen fish.  But the bullet-biting trick is damn impressive and I cannot even fathom how they did it.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. Bullet Biting trick? If that's the same one as done in the movie "The Prestige" the trick's not too hard to sort out. The movie itself was a little weak but fun if you are into period suspense action dramas. Or want to see Scarlet Johanson barely contained in a corset a few times.

  2. I thought the movie was quite enjoyable, actually, excepting only the scenes with David Bowie.Yeah, I can see how the way the "Prestige" trick was pulled off would have helped Penn & Teller do what they did; a bit of misdirection would have been very helpful.Readers who haven't seen "The Prestige" will likely find that a rental is well worth their time.

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