Leaving Las Vegas
There's nothing I can add to the already-bulging catalog of impressions of Las Vegas by wannabe writers. I went, I spent money, I didn't gamble -- which infuriated the people I was traveling with. I often forgot to eat, but at no time risked dehydration.
I will return.
Naturally, and in my most "I'm so different" cliched way, my favorite part was downtown, not the Strip. And my favorite part (besides drinking 52 oz. of beer out of a football-shaped decanter) was walking away from the Fremond Street Experience (are you experienced?) and down to the forgotten ghetto a few blocks away.
Down there you can find sad little two-story "hotels" with depressing, low-roofed casinos; dealers wearing dirty, open-necked shirts, 50 cent blackjack tables and all the people who feel, for whatever reason, that they would not be welcome at Fitzgeralds, 6 blocks away.
But was that enough for this seeker of the seedy underside of society? No! I continued walking.
Where I drew the line -- and I still regret it -- was at the bar a block away from the dirtiest casino in Las Vegas. I've never before seen a bar where you had to buzz to get in. How could I resist that? Sadly, respectability won out over adventurousness. I kept walking, took a right, and started back to the loud, bright, neon-drenched semi-reality of the Fremont Street Experience. Soon I was drinking my football of beer underneath a dazzling red-white-and-blue-themed light show.
By Sunday I was a convert. Everything had gone great. Kathleen had met my friends and loved them, and vice-versa. I even found a store that sold not just Coke, but Vanilla Coke. Amazing, yes, and worth even the massive dose of attitude dished out by David, the ponytailed, scraped-up looking 7-11 clerk who sold me the Van Coke.
The Luxor still sucked, but who spends time in their hotel room? Judging from the appearance of my fellow tourists, Las Vegas' sales slogan - "What happens here, stays here," is working. Either that, or 65% of the women in the world own only low-cut tank tops.
By 6 pm Sunday I was at the airport, joined at my gate by the tiredest,most burned out-looking group of people ever to populate a series of fixed, uncomfortable chairs. Guys' eyes were rolling back in their heads. Girls in straw cowboy hats passed out with digital cameras on their laps.
Fortunately, flights were arriving all over the airport, disgorging hundreds of bright-eyed, perky reinforcements: our replacements.
I arrived at SFO at 9 pm, to be met by an unenthusiastic Sandra Bullock and a happy Jawa, who leapt from the backseat of the Acura to hug me upon my arrival. He wore a black t-shirt, blue sweatpants, and Vans slip-on with little green skulls all over them.
This morning, tired of dealing with our rapidly failing water pressure, Sandra Bullock emerged from the shower this morning and demanded I do something. "It's just dripping out!" she said. "Just take off the shower head and at least see if it's the shower head or the water itself."
A few minutes and several revolutions with a wrench later, the offending shower head was gone, replaced by a drinking fountain-like stream of water. "I'd take that over the alternative," offered up S. Bullock, as I rinsed the shower head in the sink, revealing a large pile of black rust. I hand-twisted the shower head back on, flipped on the water. A promising stream of water came out. It was better, but still not great.
"Wait!" said S.B. She ran downstairs and emerged with another shower head, one of the many we'd bought while trying to fix the leak that had begun this entire fiasco. I screwed the new shower head on, turned on the water and...amazing. I powerful blast of water exploded out of the new head.
We all but dropped to our knees and thanked the forces from above. I immediately peeled off my clothes and jumped into the now-refreshing, soothing shower. "We just saved $10,000!" I beamed, referring the the bathroom remodel which can now wait until summer at least."
Shower problem solved. Las Vegas over. Article due today completed. The Jawa fully enjoying the red fuzzy dice I bought him at the largest gift shop in the world.
I should have parlayed those hoops games Saturday night. I'd be $200 richer if I had.