This coming weekend I will be traveling to Las Vegas. I have only been to this city as a youth. I remember enjoying the video games and white tigers on one trip, and I remember wanting to drink and gamble on the other trip but not being able to stand for ten seconds anywhere near a slot machine without being told to get my underage body out of the gaming area.
Thus, this trip will be my long overdue first official visit to the city of Las Vegas.
I have decided to put together some of my thoughts and expectations about the upcoming trip for today’s post and then deconstruct how these measured up to reality in one of next week’s post.
So, first, thoughts: I have no thoughts. I can’t keep a thought in my head I’m so giddy with excitement. I went to Disney World with my family a few months ago and I enjoyed that thoroughly but in my head Las Vegas is like the Disney World you go to with your drinking buddies, which is ever so much better. The comparison is apt as the hopping-up-and-down excitement I experience whenever I think about the upcoming trip is very similar to what my little nieces and nephews must have experienced on many sleepless nights leading up to our family going to Disney World. It’s akin to the night before Christmas. It’s a type of excitement that you don’t stumble onto very often as an adult. As a child you get to look forward to completely irresponsible fun, no one expects you to plan anything or pay for anything. You’re six. Fun just happens and Santa just brings you gifts.
As an adult you’re responsible for too much. You have to plan the fun, you have to plan the travel, you have to be Santa. I guess that’s the thought I come away with. Las Vegas is letting me recapture the thoughtless, weightless giddyness of a kid before Christmas as there is an unspoken pact that, while there, nobody is allowed to give a good sweet god damn about anything. Budgets, personal well-being, sanity. All of these things are somehow not in our domain; responsibility for them will be left with the city of Las Vegas…or the valet…or somebody. Nobody cares.
Now as for expectations? This gets confusing. I have been to Atlantic City a number of times over the past few years and I find it impossible not to use this as a baseline for what to expect even though I’m well aware that this is ludicrous. In Atlantic City you pick a casino and it becomes your bunker. The fact that most of my trips down there are over the winter where it’s below freezing outside compound this notion. You don’t go wandering around much. You might take a stroll on the boardwalk, but that’s if you’re over on that side of town. More often than not I’m at the marina and I honestly couldn’t tell you what anything over there looks like if it doesn’t represent the possibility of a huge cash payout. And hitting the pool? If you tell someone on an Atlantic City trip that you’re thinking of hitting the pool, the only thing that comes to mind is that you’re striking some sort of deal with the mafia. Not because that makes a lick of sense, but because the idea that you might actually be going to the pool is so absurd that some other idea must replace it. And since you’re in New Jersey…
In Las Vegas I think people go “outside” and maybe even gamble by the pool with a tropical drink in hand.
Since this is about my expectations we’ll run with that idea.
In Las Vegas people go outside. And these people are beautiful and the water is blue and you can walk from casino to casino to casino and eat perfectly cooked steaks and never lose a dime. But Lights are always cold, the scotch is never less than thirty years old and both are always served a waitress who looks like the girl next door and who calls you “Darling” with the perfect mix of flirtatiousness and friendliness. None of the casino chips are cracked or falling apart, they’re all perfectly modeled clay and metal and they feel like a wonderful weight while cupped in the palm of your hand. The dealers all speak English and the pit-bosses all correct your craps wagers with humbled good nature. You never feel sorry for the old people gambling there, they all look like Peter Graves (god bless) and none of them carry around oxygen tanks or call out their bets using the combination of a hole in their throat and a vibrating box. The bings and bongs from the slot machines are in perfect harmony, the felt at the craps table is perfectly taut and nobody ever goes to bed at night with regrets because in Las Vegas nobody ever goes to bed at all.
Those are my expectations.
Expect a mess of gibberish scrawled on a cocktail napkin next Tuesday when we see how reality matches up.