I went to Vegas this week for the first time. It’s a place I’ve never wanted to go, but a work conference pulled me there. I got back last night and started writing a post about my experience, but it went on and on and on in a monotonous way. I didn’t click on Publish. So, let me try a different way.
We (the Queen Midget tagged along) got there Wednesday night. We ate at a really good pizza place in the Aria Casino and Hotel then walked through the Bellagio to see their water show that goes off every 20 minutes. By the end of the night, I was done with the whole place. The crowds, the traffic, the meal that cost almost $150 for two — did I mention it was pizza? Everything in Las Vegas is huge and sprawling and complicated and you can just get lost so easy, which I believe is their objective. Did you know that casinos don’t have clocks anywhere? There’s a reason for that. I think it’s the same reason why they all have winding hallways and routes through the gaming areas and they go this way and that way and you end up completely misdirected and discombobulated. The more lost you are, the less you realize what time it is, the more likely you are to just stay in one place and lose all of your money there.
Which leads to
I play blackjack when I go to a casino, which I don’t do very often. For years, I would sit down at a blackjack table with $40, lose it almost immediately, pull out another $20 and then play for the next couple of hours. Seriously, this happened over and over and I was happy with that. As long as I could play for a couple of hours I was happy to lose that $60, which I did pretty much every time. A few years ago, something changed and the last handful of times I’ve played blackjack, I’ve ended up leaving the table with chips in my hand. Not huge amounts, but $50 here, $100 there. This week was no different. Here’s what I do now. I start with $60. If I double it, I hand $60 in chips to my wife. If I keep going, I keep giving her chips so that they can be cashed out instead of returning to the pile if things start going south. It worked well the last few days. At the blackjack table, I came out $375 ahead.
Have I mentioned I could seriously become a gambling addict if there wasn’t that one little last ounce of self-control I have that says that’s a bad idea?
We ate at Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill in Caesar’s Casino. When I saw that he had a restaurant there, I mentioned to the Queen Midget that it would be cool if we went there, ordered food, it sucked, and we could yell expletives at the help about how horrible the food is and incompetent they are. Sadly, the crappy food became a reality for us. I ordered a burger. I generally leave it to a restaurant to decide how to cook a burger unless they ask me. The server did. I asked for medium. I discovered a whole new shade of pink in that burger. I pointed it out to the server. His response was, “I wrote it down. I dunno what happened.” The couple next to us … the guy asked for medium well. He got pink too. I don’t send food back, but after the server left, I looked at the Queen and said, “I coulda done it. I could have yelled and dropped some Ramsay style f-bombs. I should go back there,” pointing at the kitchen, “and start yelling.” But I didn’t. I ate my burger.
We took a taxi to Old Las Vegas — where some of the old casinos from a bygone era still take up space. It’s a place, much like all of Vegas, where you see every strain of humanity. From the lowest of the homeless begging for money to the people looking for an odd sort of attention. Like the guy who walks around in nothing but a star-spangled thong with the straps over his shoulders instead of his hips. And his friend who prances around in a black bikini top, black short shorts, and with a gut that can only be described as rotund. And there is still plenty of opportunities to throw your money away.
The taxi driver who took us back to our hotel was from Eritrea. Abraham has been in Vegas for about six years, before that he was in Los Angeles. Spending some time in the cab talking to him about Eritrea and his life in Vegas, almost made the whole thing worth it. But …
I just really never need to go back to the place. It’s all fake … a man-made oasis in a desert that pulls people in and spits them out. All of the “attractions” mean nothing to me. It’s ugly, hideous, and a testament to greed and waste. Give me a beach on the ocean, a mountain lake, or a quiet walk along a river any day.