Sure, I like to party. I mean, I like to party some, anyway, maybe not as much now as when I was younger, but I still, you know, party. A friend of ours, Julie, just turned 40-years old a couple months ago. Which I guess is a pretty big deal. Especially for women, I think. So, instead of just sitting around feeling depressed and sorry about being so old, her and her husband decided to travel to Las Vegas to celebrate. Or maybe she decided to do both, sit around depressed for a while, then go to Vegas and celebrate, I really can’t say for sure. Maybe she spent a few nights drinking lots of wine and crying in the tub. You never know. But that part didn’t really affect us much, so we decided to meet up with them in Las Vegas on our way home from Guatemala and Mexico. Because it’s kind of on the way, and because it sounded pretty fun. One downside was that we don’t really get too dressed up in Guatemala, and Mexico seems pretty casual most of the time, so we weren’t sure if we had the right clothes for Vegas. But I like to gamble, and drink, and the last time I was there I saw lots of women’s breasts, so all things considered, we decided it was probably best to go.
Julie, the birthday girl, is a lot of fun and seemed pretty excited to have everyone in Vegas together. She wanted to make the most of the trip by trying everything. It turns out, though, there is quite a bit to do in Vegas, even more than we could fit into a few hours each afternoon for four days. When Julie drinks a lot though, she starts to wobble, and usually by the end it is best if she takes off her shoes so she doesn’t fall so much. My wife, Laynni, thought so too, which was good, because she likes telling people what to do, especially after a few glasses of vodka, so everything goes a lot smoother when people do what she says. Julie’s husband, Mike, is kind of grumpy, but gets more and more fun the more beer he drinks. Or vodka. Sometimes he has lots of fun drinking vodka. Way more than you’d expect. My sister, Andie, and her husband, Mark came, too. Andie really likes to shop, and when people tell her the Canadian dollar is weak and she isn’t getting the great deals she thinks she is, she doesn’t even really care, she just shrugs and says “I don’t care, now I have to go, there is another store I want to check out”. I don’t think Mark likes shopping as much as Andie, but he’s a good sport, and he goes with her most of the time, no matter how long it takes, although I think maybe deep down he likes shopping more than he lets on, and it all works out perfectly for him. The last couple to join in were Jim and Ang. They like all sorts of things. Drinking, for one. And gambling, definitely. Lots of gambling. Jim especially likes gambling, sometimes at machines with all different kinds of whales and fun little cartoon characters that let you know when you win and break the news with a really sad face when you lose, and Ang is maybe a bit more into dancing. Probably because she’s a lot better at it than him, and because he wins a lot of money betting on football, and when he does he gets this really smug little smile on his face, and you can tell he enjoys that smile way more than he likes dancing. I don’t dance much either, but that’s about the only odd thing about me. Except maybe my spreadsheets.
The first thing we did when they arrived was go buy some beer from Walgreen’s. That is a pharmacy, and normally people go there to buy cough medicine and tooth brushes and rash cream, but on the Strip in Las Vegas it is the cheapest place to buy alcohol. Except for maybe the other pharmacy, CVS, I’m not sure because Walgreen’s was closer, and I thought, hey, they’re both pharmacies, how different can the beer really be? And I think I was probably right. We bought a bunch of really big beers from Walgreen’s and then walked along the Strip, checking out the casinos and stuff. One pretty cool thing about Las Vegas is that you can pretty much drink alcohol anywhere. On the street, in the casinos, at the pool. On the benches, obviously. Homeless people must love that, I mean, no crumpled paper bags. That’s probably why there are so many homeless people in Vegas, the open drinking policy. And so if someone ever gives them some money there are lots of casinos nearby where they can double their money. Or triple it, or maybe do really good and buy a house, you know, to not be homeless any more. Why not, really, since even if they lose they just end up back where they started the day. Some of the beer bounced around in Laynni’s bag for a while before we opened them. When Julie opened one in the casino it started fizzing, and beer was shooting everywhere, and she got really flustered and tried to stop it spraying on her clothes and the machines and stuff, but it wasn’t really working, and by the time it stopped she was all alone because, you know, none of us wanted any part of that shit show.
Andie and Mark were staying at a hotel called the Cosmopolitan, which is real nice, with lots of coloured lights and gold bannisters everywhere. I don’t know if they were real gold, or just gold-coloured, but either way they were pretty impressive, the kind of place that when you look around you sort of nod and go, “yeah, this place is pretty cool”. There were a whole bunch of fancy restaurants, and one crappy little pizza place that was way different than all the other restaurants, and didn’t seem to fit in at that hotel at all. Maybe that was the point, like a gimmick, sort of, like they wanted us to feel like they were really normal and down-to-earth, and that they didn’t need gold bannisters to be cool. Or a name. They did have an old Galaga video game, which I was pretty excited about because I used to play that game all the time when I was young, but it wasn’t working, and it kind of looked like it hadn’t worked for a long time. There was also an old pinball machine, but that was also dusty and seemed to be there for people to lean on while they waited for their pizza to be ready. I leaned on it for a little while, and I could see why people liked it. Until this unsteady woman came right up to me and looked me right in the eyes for no reason. Her dress was kind of too small for her body, and I guess her high-heeled shoes weren’t working right because she was carrying them in her hand, except she kept dropping them. I looked back at her for a while, but soon I realized she didn’t really know why she was looking at me. Or maybe she’d forgotten. I think she may have been drinking. In the end, we stayed up until around 3 am. Since we usually go to bed way before 11, this was pretty surprising. But we made microwave popcorn, so it kind of evened out.
Since the condo we were sharing with Mike and Julie had a kitchen, in the morning Mike and Laynni and I walked to the grocery store. It took about an hour, just like Google Maps said it would, but we still kept complaining that it was farther than we thought. Maybe because we passed through some weird neighbourhoods, with low houses and no grass and never any people, sort of like the places where people make meth in Breaking Bad, or the suburbs in those movies where a nuclear bomb has gone off and the only people left are vigilantes and hot girls. Except we didn’t see either one. We did see a bright yellow van that had been painted by hand right there on the street. You could tell because of the lines in the paint, and because there were yellow drops all around the van on the street. Maybe someone was cooking meth in there right then, I don’t know. I can’t rule it out, that’s for sure. One of the main reasons we had to go to the grocery store was to get potatoes. Mike really likes potatoes, even more than your average Irishman, I think. Either way, he was very excited to buy some potatoes. Instead of walking back we took a taxi, which was pretty neat because I think it was probably the first time this guy had ever driven a taxi. Possibly even his first time driving a car. He seemed really surprised every time the street light turned green, falling behind traffic and making a little noise, kind of like “whah!”, before pushing on the gas really hard. And he had to use his GPS to find The Strip, even though we had assumed everyone in Las Vegas knew where that was. Maybe it’s not as popular as we thought.
One afternoon we drank beer for hours and hours, and played cards almost the whole time, and then took a bunch of beer and rode the High Roller Ferris wheel, which I think I remember, except I don’t know for sure if I actually remember, or if I just think I remember because I looked at all the photos the next day. The photos weren’t very good, though.
After a couple days Mike and I went back to Walgreen’s to get more beer, but while we were there the alarm went off. We were kind of confused, and there was this robot voice telling us over the intercom to leave the store, and to be orderly about it, except everyone else was just ignoring it, I guess so they didn’t lose their place in line. We decided to go, and left our beer near the till for later. But when we came back, though, the beer were gone and we had to go all the way back to the cooler to get more. I guess we’ve learned our lesson about listening to fire alarms. We went for lunch at this little bar and casino that Mike and Julie knew about where you could get a beer and a hot dog for $3. We couldn’t wait. It was full of tired, sad-looking people, and it smelled a bit weird. The beer was just normal, and the hot dog was pretty normal, too, but together they seemed pretty great. For $3, anyway. A short, friendly man introduced himself to the girls while we were eating our hot dogs. At first I think he was hoping to have sex with Julie, or maybe Laynni, or maybe even both, he seemed fairly ambitious. But he wasn’t very smooth, and he seemed really convinced that Mike and I were their brothers, even though they assured him we were actually their husbands. Eventually he decided to switch sides and tell us all the same stories; about how he is a local, how he works at the Hustler club, but not in, you know, the sex stuff, how he just finished having a $50 shot, how this place is his favourite local bar because here that $50 shot is actually only costs $11, but the waitress didn’t seem to know him, and mostly seemed annoyed. Mike kept the guy’s card, just in case.
Our apartment had a giant couch, which was nice because it meant we could all be on there without worrying about being too close to each other. Not everyone was showering regularly. We also had a big TV, so we watched a lot of sports. Soccer, hockey, basketball, you name it. Not NASCAR, though, because that’s not really a sport. Every day a woman would knock on our door and ask if she could come in and clean, and every time we would say, “Thanks, but we’re kind of busy right now, could you come back tomorrow?” And she would. We didn’t tell her that we were mostly just busy drinking and playing cards and eating lots of different kinds of chips, but I think she could tell, anyway. After a few days this real serious, business-y woman came to the door and really sternly suggested we let the maid come clean our room. We were like, “Yeah, sure, no problem”, as though we had just been waiting on her the whole time. But then we had to catch her and ask if she could wait just another half-hour because we were busy making bacon. Lots of bacon, way more bacon than you can just clean around.
The girls liked to go to the pool. Mark, too, obviously. The nice pool in the Cosmopolitan, where Andie and Mark were staying. They sat in the water and drank and got a bit drunk and watched people and once in a while they would pay $50 for a bucket of beer. At least that’s what they said, I wasn’t there. It was really sunny at that pool, and all the shaded loungers were already taken when we looked, so Mike and I never went back again. We did spend a couple hours at the Jockey Club pool one morning. It is hidden in the middle of all the tall buildings so the sun only gets down there for a little bit every morning. It was okay, though, I was able to find a lounger completely shaded by buildings. That made it a little bit cool, so I though t it best to keep my sweats and socks on. There was a big, heavy net completely protecting the pool from above. There were no signs anywhere saying what it was protecting us from, but I guess it would probably be people throwing things out windows from above. Bottles, maybe, or water balloons if they were the pranking types. The net made us feel a lot safer, although I checked it out and I’m pretty sure people could still spit on us through the net. So, in the end, I never got to relax quite as much as I would have liked, even though my feet stayed nice and warm. I stayed a little longer than Mike and Laynni, and then when I got back to the room I found out that they were already drinking vodka. In the morning! Boy, was I surprised. When I thought about it a little more, though, it kind of made sense. Laynni was being kind of loud, and Mike swore a lot, then laughed every time he swore. It felt a bit like a party, except that it was 11 am and I still had a headache and was wearing socks.
One night we took a taxi downtown to Fremont Street. It is considered “Old Vegas”, I suppose because the casinos are smaller and there is a traditional zip-line. Julie wanted to go on the zip-line but it was going to be a 3-hour wait, so she decided walking would probably be just as much fun as flying. There were people everywhere, kind of like a circus, except instead of acrobats and clowns and dancing bears there were just tourists and people dressed as Deadpool. Some people in our group played the video poker machines, and told us when they won, but not when they lost, just like you’re supposed to. I played mostly blackjack, and won a bunch, then lost it all back to where I started, then complained that I had been winning until they all showed up and started watching, also like you’re supposed to. Andie got really into roulette, mainly because she was winning, I think, and because even though she wouldn’t admit it, deep down I think she believes she has “a system”.
On our last full day we all talked about it and said that 4 nights probably was too much, maybe because we were all real tired and maybe a bit hungover, and that none of us really wanted to do much that last day. So we packed up a couple bags completely full of beer and went out to wander and get drunk. We went for lunch, and Mike and I went on the rollercoaster at New York, New York. The woman behind us in line was really nervous, so Mike told her it wasn’t that bad. He said she’d be fine, that there was only the one big loop, but I don’t think she believed him. He forgot to tell her about the whole corkscrew section, though, and that really seemed to catch her off-guard. I don’t think she liked it much. We squealed a fair bit ourselves, not so manly, really, but she really screamed. And not, like, a fun scream, more like a terrified scream. After we got off she glared at us, but I think deep down she was quite happy with the way it all turned out. We also took a bus to the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. It is smaller than we expected, and is squeezed onto a little meridian between two busy highways, but there is a little bright green patch of fake grass in front of it, and a fake hill, and those little touches really made the difference. It was quite a photo, even though I couldn’t get my hair quite right.
Then we went to an Irish pub for a couple beer, then spent a few hours at Beerhaus drinking more beer and watching the Leafs-Bruins hockey game and playing table Jenga. The Leafs won, which made me happy and Mike grouchy, and it didn’t help that his fat fingers weren’t very good at Jenga, either. He liked the beer, though, and there was one waitress with really nice boobs, so I think that made everyone feel a bit better, overall. After that I don’t remember too much, but the next morning I saw a photo of Laynni and I sharing a burger, so that was probably good, and another one of Jim and Ang trying to make the shape of a 41 for Laynni’s brother Torin’s birthday. He is 41. It turns out Ang did the 4 backwards, though, but I guess none of us noticed at all, for some reason. We’re pretty sure we went to bed early. I’m not sure how early, but earlier than Mike anyway, because when I got up to go to the bathroom at 3 am I ran into him and he had just gotten home. He was in the kitchen eating all sorts of stuff, but mostly chips, and the bowl of old potatoes left over from breakfast, of course. He didn’t say much, and mostly just laughed and chewed and stuff, but I could tell by the look on his face he was very happy with those potatoes. You just never know how things will work out.
Sometimes I hear people say that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. But obviously not in this case.