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Monday, 10 May
All That Glitters
Some of you tens of readers are going to get the wrong idea about our trip to Las Vegas. You're going to think, "Wow, he had a really shitty time." Please don't think that. We had a delightful time. But for some reason, whenever I think back on the trip, I think of . . . stuff . . . that wasn't necessarily . . . fun. But still. We had a good time. Just try to remember that.
Flying into Vegas in the daytime is never a good idea. In fact, looking at Vegas in the daytime at all is a really terrible idea--it's like going backstage at a strip club and finding out that the women are all tired and crabby and hate you. And make no mistake: Vegas hates you. Let me amend that: Unless you are rich enough to genuinely not have to give a shit about money, Vegas hates you. The image it likes to play up is: Anyone can get lucky! No reason it can't be you! Which I suppose is technically true. However, the darker side of what Vegas really thinks about you is this: And if you get lucky, who the fuck cares? You're just going to blow it on something stupid, obviously, because you're here, aren't you?
These were the thoughts that filled my brain as we flew into Las Vegas and I stared at the horrible, grimy low-rent tenements that squat around the Strip, like the dark-eyed children lurking around the skirts of their trashy mothers. Nothing says "Losertown" like eyeing some of the hopeless lodgings a mere half mile off the Strip. Fortunately, much like other people's neglected children, they were easy to forget about once I couldn't see them anymore, so by the time we got to the hotel, I happily did. No losers here!
We went exploring. The casino was nothing unusual, except for perhaps the startling explosion of deeply weird new slot machines. There were the celebrity (I'm being kind) machines: "Dick Clark's Rockin' New Years Eve Slots!" "Kenny Rogers' The Gambler!" "Stacy Keach's Unemployment Check Fiesta!" Clearly not my demographic. Nor were some of the more esoteric of the "themed" machines. What the fuck is "Lobstermania"? Are all the rugged woodsmen flocking to town to play "Wild Bear Salmon Run"? I stared for a while at the puzzling "Tabasco" slot machine and idly fantasized that each losing spin rewarded the unlucky player with a blistering spray of capiscum into their eyes.
We availed ourselves of a couple drinks--foregoing the three-foot-tall bongs full of daquiris favored by the wandering college-aged chitterers--and headed outside, where there was a band playing. It was apparently "ALL EIGHTIES!" because we certainly don't want to forget that utter debacle of a decade, and the band was playing a truly dispiriting version of "Don't You Want Me." The siren belted out the lyrics like she was cleaning a rug with a broom: "DON'T! YOU! WANT! ME! BABY!" In defiance of all sense, the male singer responded to her shrieks with a pantomime of, I guess, "wanting": he took up his end of the chorus and began chasing her around a speaker. I hoped that he was trying to murder the wretched singer, but alas, they were being "cute." They continued their assault on the song, while the wife and I stood transfixed. I no longer wondered what ever happened to people who are truly awful singers but who cannot help themselves: they move to Vegas. The woman in particular was hauntingly bad. If musical notes were baseballs, and she were to be suddenly inhabited by the spirit of Ted Williams, and she were also given a +5 Magic Bat of Homers . . . well, she could maybe get a spot with the Mariners, but that's all.
As we turned to go, the band launched into the minimally funky "Bust A Move," and we quickened our step. The song screamed in agony as the musicians fell upon its neck and hungrily sucked all the fun out of it. We needed more drinks.
Later, we prowled the casino tables. The wife was determined to try some gambling, and had settled on roulette as her game of choice. I located her a five dollar table and she sat down cutely. I made my escape, as roulette gives me hives, and tried to find a five dollar blackjack table, which is the equivalent of the childrens' table at Thanksgiving. None. Only ten dollar tables, and I had never played on one before, mainly because I am so very chicken and also because I do not have hundred dollar bills falling out of my asshole. Eventually, however, I screwed up my courage (read: couldn't fucking handle just watching any more), pulled out a hundred, and took a seat. I was handed a tiny stack of chips, of which I almost immediately lost sixty dollars. I just bought Steve Wynn a pair of shoelaces, I thought.
But as it turned out, I ended up winning about sixty bucks, and weirdly, I stopped. Found the wife. "How did you do?" "I lost about thirty-five bucks," she said. "Did you have fun?" "Yeah!" she chirped, "and I got a couple of free drinks." This is the hallucinatory aspect of Vegas. You spend the equivalent of $17.50 for two watery drinks, and like it.
By the next day, I had started to think of Las Vegas as The City That Makes You Want To Push Old Ladies Down! Really, you kind of want to push all of humanity down, because they're all in your fucking way in Vegas, in improbable spots: Yes, in the middle of a doorway is the perfect place to have a discussion about show tunes! Dorothy, I would like to pick this busy sidewalk to get your chicken recipe! Uh oh, Bernice, there's a sociopathic young man who's pushing you down!
We decided, unsurprisingly, to have more drinks, so we headed to Mandalay Bay. For those of you who haven't seen it, Mandalay Bay is this gold-plated monstrosity that crouches on the outskirts of the Strip, looming ominously over the heat-blasted nothing, like some existential Ivana Trump. Our destination was a place called The Red Square, which as you might imagine, specializes in vodka, and lots of it, of all kinds and provenances. Sweet overpriced vodka! We could hardly wait.
It was closed until the evening. For a minute I felt kind of stupid for not calling ahead, until I realized that the fucking place was violating a major law of Vegas: Closed? What the fuck is closed? In this city? Nothing closes, for Christ's sake! It's the whole point of the city! If I want to drink vodka at noon, or lose all my money at midnight, or gang-fuck a hooker in a raccoon suit, the city provides this ANYWHERE, ANY TIME! Closed. And stuck in a giant pachinko machine right off Gehenna Lane. We found another bar and drank listlessly, considering our options.
Finally, what can you do? We split. There was a walkway connecting Mandalay Bay to the Luxor, a ludicrous pyramid dropped down in the desert by lost, tacky pharaohs. We finally entered the thing, and my spirits were lifted a bit by the sight of crying children: the Luxor's interior is a creepy, imposing cavern filled with looming Egyptianesque statues and inadequate lighting. Naturally, the children were all terrified beyond sanity, and wailed for their parents to deliver them from the hellish crypt. We continued on, and inside I cackled at the luckless parents, whose future therapy bills would surely be as astronomical as they would be useless in fixing their grey-faced, somnolent children, who would all become goth teenagers one day thanks to the Luxor.
We continued on another human-freight-moving-tube to the excrutiatingly wretched Excalibur, an Arthurian-themed casino that seemed to be designed and built by Walt Disney's febrile ditch-cousin. The wife wrinkled her nose. "It smells like buffet, she said, and I was alarmed to find that there really was a smell called "buffet." Gray meat, pink wine and brown gravy were the dominant themes, with an undercurrent of Old Spice; alarmingly, the smell was beginning to cut through our previous drinks, so we ran out, scattering children like tenpins, breathing a little easier once we emerged into the furnace of the Outside, and gulped down lungfuls of dusty car exhaust. Whew.
The rest of the day was a wash; we napped in our room, resting up for our later excursion: Showgirls! The wife wanted to see a Show, bless her, so we wrangled some half-price tickets to something called The Showgirls of Magic! I figured with a title that bad, it had to be dismally good. And it was! The wife and I enjoyed ourselves as the young ladies pranced 'n danced 'n did hoary old magic tricks and, most importantly, displayed their breasts. Expecting a parade of silicone, I was pleased to see the entire gamut of breast sizes, from perky As to charmingly plump Ds. This appeal to my sense of democracy pleased me, as did seeing naked tits. There was also a fat transvestite who hassled some guy in the front, and later, a midget. Every fucking tacky thing about Vegas was paraded around on stage, and the show reveled in it, and I appreciated that. Particularly the breasts.
Afterwards, we gambled for a bit; I went up about thirty bucks, and the wife again cheerfully lost some more money at the random number table, but no biggie. We went to bed and huddled under the blankets, fighting the arctic blast of the air conditioner.
The rest of the trip, really, was more of the same shit. I did end up losing some money to a video poker machine, which the casinos malevolently put at each bar. Video poker is my nemesis, and yet I play it every time. Some people have things on their headstones like Loving Father or Taken Too Soon. Mine will surely read, For Some Reason, Played Video Poker, and then below that one of those red circles with a diagonal bar across it obscuring a dollar sign.
As we returned home on the plane, I slept, and I dreamed: I dreamed of "Bust A Move," and of brown gravy. Sounds played in my head: "WHEEL! OF! FORTUNE!" "Bongbongbongbongbongbong" "LOBSTERMANIA!" I remembered the guy at my blackjack table who split fours. I recalled the very same fellow who stood on two aces. I imagined doomed revenant children who haunt pyramids, living off of discarded soda pop and mustard packets. I fondly remembered getting out of town, drinking beer at one o'clock in the afternoon, and spending time with my girl. And I dreamed of breasts, all sizes.
So I don't see how anyone can get the idea that I didn't enjoy myself, because I damn well did. We had a lot of fun. So much so that we're pretty sure there's no need to go back very soon.
Note: Comments are closed on old entries.
I remembered the guy at my blackjack table who split fours.
*stabs self in eye*
I recalled the very same fellow who stood on two aces.
*stabs self in other eye*
Welcome back. Happy anniversary.
The city needs a new slogan. "Las Vegas: Feel better about where you live."
I can't wait to go back.
So would it be you in the raccoon suit, or the hooker?
The scent of buffett.
Priceless and so very true.
So would it be you in the raccoon suit, or the hooker?
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
Stacy Keach's Unemployment Check Fiesta!
It's little gems like this that keep me coming back. Thanks.
I certainly understand where you're comin' from. I was in Vegas two years ago for a big bicycle industry convention. Me an' the boyfriend had never been and were planning on living it up in our room at the Venetian (courtesy of mom because my birthday coincided with the convention). Vegas depressed the two of us simply for the reasons that we were bad at gambling and had no money. Go figure! We made it up by riding every roller coaster in town and eating VERY well. New York, New York and Sahara's coasters were totally worth it. Not to mention the woman who was white knuckled behind us at NY, NY screaming at the top of her lungs as her husband drug her on her very first roller coaster ride. Priceless. We had a good time but won't be going back any time soon.
Intesting view,i like it!come on,i will come back someday.
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