Friday, May 4, 2012

Viva Las Vegas: The Hungover


I vaguely remember this being my first thought that morning, as I opened my eyes to a dim room. It was about 11 a.m., and sunlight was fighting its way past the edges of drawn blinds. Looking around the room, I felt a bit surprised that all three of us had made it back safely the night before. After Dupa’s Wednesday night/Thursday morning adventure, I had just kind of expected at least one person to be missing when I woke up each day. Maybe even me.

Waking up was difficult, in much the same way that lifting a skyscraper with your pinkie finger is “difficult”. And I say this despite being the first one to get out of bed. Feeling the need to aid the common good, I threw on some shorts and a shirt and shuffled my way to the ABC Store in the mall. I grabbed another gallon of water and another four-pack of Red Bull; I’m not sure if the words I spoke to the cashier were English. …Or words, for that matter. I came back to the room hoping to find T.C. and Dupa exhibiting some level of consciousness. No such luck. I threw the water and Red Bull into our fridge, and went back to bed. If you can’t beat ‘em…

By 2 p.m., there were signs of life. And by 3 we were all back out in the fresh—well, freshish—Sin City air, as we strolled the Strip. More than just my hangover, I was fighting malnourishment; I hadn’t had anything to eat besides water, beer, and Cable Car-tini since dinner at Ellis Island 17 hours earlier. With every step amid the buzzing crowds of Vegas, I felt…fuzzier. While Dupa was buying beers for himself at sidewalk stands, I was teetering and sweating in 67 degree weather like a dusthead, thanks to low blood sugar.

Some fries from a vendor outside of Carnaval Court helped bring me back from the brink, and a burger at Strip Burger steadied my legs beneath me. But I could only eat about half my burger, delicious though it was, and I was only slightly more adept at finishing my “Strip & Go Naked (Grey Goose Citron, lemonade, and pilsner). I felt like I was letting down Nancy, our cute waitress; there was a hint of disappointment in those beautiful eyes each time she stopped by our table and saw my plate and glass. [Nancy, if you’re reading this: I love you, and I never want to hurt you like that again. Come to Pittsburgh, and I swear I’ll be soused with hamburger crumbs all over me every night, just for you, baby.]

As I struggled to put food (and more alcohol) into my body, it occurred to me that I wasn’t the only one moving slowly. True, Dupa and T.C. weren’t nearly as roughed up as I was, but two days of Vegas had clearly put a hitch in their get-along. Since Strip Burger sits across Las Vegas Boulevard from the Wynn and Encore casinos, we decided to tour the sparkling Babylon-that-Steve-Wynn-built; it was only about ten minutes into doing so that I noticed none of us—not a single-fucking-one of us—had so much as a light beer in his hand. We were dry-humping the Encore. The shame was too much; I couldn’t even look at our reflections in the mirrored ceiling.

After a brief stop at the Ferrari wing (where a lovely c**t of a hostess reprimanded me for attempting to take a picture of the showroom—to which I replied, “They’re cars; the camera’s not going to steal their souls.”), we began the return trek up the Strip. We stopped at Carnaval Court, which by now was in full swing: a band played onstage, cougars and young cougars-in-training bopped around, guys standing at the outdoor blackjack tables drooled over the beautiful dealers in their slore-casual attire (tight jeans, cropped t-shirts, etc), and—for no earthly reason—a bartender stood on top of the bar while blowing the loudest coach’s whistle I’d ever heard. T.C. ordered us a bucket of beers as we talked to two middle-aged guys from Pittsburgh who just happened to be standing next to us. There was a problem, though: My hangover wasn’t going away. I nursed my beer, hoping each sip was going to ease me back into my Danny Ocean state. Negative. Instead I was dull and irritable. And I was anxious to go over to the bartender with the whistle, yank him down by his children’s medium tee, and pummel his face with an ashtray.

…Did I mention I was irritable?

Dupa and T.C. polished off the fourth and fifth beers from our bucket (I forced myself to choke down my one beer) as we returned to the Strip. We stopped to snap pictures of T.C. posing with a street performer dressed as Catwoman [she was wearing the costume almost as well as Halle did] in front of the Flamingo, strolled through the Bellagio (this time with a bit more coherence at our disposal), and then concluded our family-friendly tourism with the fountain show, before heading back to our PH basecamp.

By this point, the reason for our sluggishness had been diagnosed: digestive unrest. Two and a half days of plentiful booze and heavy food—two and a half days of Vegas, more or less—needed to be flushed (no pun intended) from each of our systems. After that, a shower (one that I was actually aware of this time!), and some Red Bull mixed with Belvey, I was back up on my game. T.C. and Dupa were still a bit subdued, but we collected ourselves and headed to the curbside pick-up outside of the main lobby, where we would be meeting up with B Rush.

It had been nearly a year since I had last seen B, who’s been busy in Vegas trying to do his thing in the rap game. We caught up on some of the recent doings on our respective sides of the country, his speakers rumbling with one of his latest recordings as we cruised down the Strip. We stopped at Slots’A’Fun to experience a Sin City novelty that B had been telling me about since we had first gotten to town: A 48 oz. plastic cup shaped like a football. A bartender filled one with Tecate, threw in a straw, and handed it to me as I smiled gleefully like a small child being handed a triple-scoop ice cream cone.

B made a similar purchase, and then we climbed back into his car. The plan was simple: We would be touring Fremont Street that night, where casinos have $2 specials on bottles of Corona and Heineken. In other words, $8 refills of Corona and Heineken.


Dupa and T.C., still in the grips of the slowdown that had been ruining my fun earlier that day, decided to skip the footballs. As we waded through Fremont’s frenetic atmosphere of celebrity lookalikes (Snoop and Tupac!), flashing neon signs, people racing by on zip lines overhead, thick crowds, and a Kiss cover band that tested decibel safety levels from an outdoor stage, they somehow remained dry. I, on the other hand, was clutching my football tighter than Darnell Jefferson. We stopped for some slices of pizza, which did both of them a world of good; afterwards they quickly found a cocktail stand and bought themselves sustenance.

While they were doing that, B and I stood off in the thoroughfare talking. Out of nowhere, a small, older white woman appeared in front of us. Without warning, and to our bewilderment, she began barking at the heavy Jesus piece dangling from B’s neck. “Arf! Arf! Arf!” I don’t know what she’d been drinking, but I can assure you I was jealous that I hadn’t had some, too.

Whatever was coursing through her veins, it most certainly affected her eyesight. When B asked her why she was barking at his Jesus piece, the woman said she thought it was an image of a dog. Then, as if to atone for barking at the prophet, she broke out in prayer while bowing her head in reverence to the golden idol. She then walked off into the crowd and vanished just as quickly as she had appeared. Dupa and T.C. returned from the drink stand to find B and me laughing hysterically, wiping tears.

We headed into the Fremont Casino to use the restrooms and replenish the footballs. Maybe, in another town, a man methodically pouring four bottles of Corona into a cheap, plastic, football-shaped cup while standing at a crowded bar would look…oh, I don’t know…peculiar. Perhaps, one might say, a bit abnormal. Not in Vegas, though. No one so much as blinked. God I love that town.

[To be continued...]

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