[When we left our band of blottos, they were at the Fremont Casino on the final night of the three-day birthday bacchanalia, merrily filling plastic footballs and themselves with booze.]
We sat at the bar talking for a while (during which time Dupa and T.C. each put away a couple more drinks, and B Rush and I each drank about another three quarters of a football), and then moved on to the Golden Nugget. One of the oldest and most legendary of Las Vegas’ casinos, the Nugget was surprisingly modern inside, including a large, exotic pool area located in the center of the complex. Soft red and white lounge chairs take up a field of poolside real estate, and special waterproof, minimalist lounge chairs sit wading in about one foot of water on another side of the lavish urban lagoon. Those chairs face a glimmering wall of glass, which separates thousands of fish—including sharks—in an aquarium tank from the tourists swimming outside. The aquarium is part of a large structure in the middle of the pool; this structure, with streaming waterfalls shooting out near the top and pouring down into the pool below, encases the Nugget’s pièce de résistance: A waterslide that twists through the aquarium on its way down to the pool.
The far corner of the expansive courtyard is a cabana lounge, and is home to hot tubs, couches, and a bar. Having dusted off my second football of beer, I felt it time to find an alternative fuel. Hello, frozen margaritas. I braved the pain of brain freeze—while, ironically, numbing up the rest of my body—as we took a few minutes to collect ourselves and relax in this oasis.
When we finally strolled out of the Nugget, our eyes wandered down Fremont Street to the left, and landed on a pink, blinking neon sign that beckoned to us: “Glitter Gulch”. We asked the bouncer what the cover charge was. “No cover. There’s a two drink minimum, though.” Well now… The four of us strolled through the doors, and walked right into a feeding frenzy. Consider the following factors:
- There may have been 10 other customers in the establishment that night.
- There were approximately 40 dancers working.
- Dupa, T.C., and I smelled of alcohol and tourist money.
- B’s neck and wrist were frozen.
Now, I consider myself a strip club Jedi; I was trained by TJ, the Obi Wan Kenobi of spending a night in a club without becoming a mark. I looked at my traveling party: Two seats to my right was the Vegas resident, jaded to women who are out to make a buck; between he and I sat the faithfully-married man, who probably hadn’t smelled another woman’s perfume in ten years; and to my left was a wildcard drunk, in Vegas to celebrate his 30th birthday. It seemed pretty obvious who was going to be the one to crack and buy a private dance.
Me *juggling swigs from each Miller Lite bottle and pulls from the straw in my frozen margarita*: “You know all these girls just want you to buy a dance. Fuck if I’m spending any money on that.”
Dupa: “Yeah, me neither. I’m staying right here.”
Feeling secure that none of us were going to get suckered into a $15,000 night, I turned back to my right…to find two empty chairs. “Son of a…”
T.C., as it turned out, had only gone off to the restroom. B, however, had fallen into the trap. Seven years in Vegas, it seems, is no match for a pretty face and a thick ass. I returned my attention to the ladies working the stage. As a cute dancer with sandy blonde hair leaned over and slapped the sides of my face with her D cups, I heard a girl’s voice behind Dupa and me. “Hey, are you [Dupa]? Your friend needs you in the back.” He followed a beautiful brunette dancer back to the private rooms, where T.C. was standing with a smile. “Get in there,” he said to the birthday boy as he pointed to a curtained-off room. “I bought you a dance.”
T.C. returned and sat in Dupa’s seat; after having spent the previous ten minutes fighting off about 30 half-naked, cash-hungry zombies, I could only react to news of his generosity with jealous bemusement. “Wait, why didn’t you tell ME you were buying dances?” My covetousness, however, was quickly trumped by another of the seven deadly sins: lust.
A 5’2”, milk chocolate beauty strutted out onto the stage, her eyes locked on mine. I felt a “damn…” escape my lips. She danced for me, and after accepting my dollar, moved off to another guy. A minute or two later, though, as I talked to B, I suddenly felt her grab my face and my attention—and soon, another dollar. Her dance ended and she walked off the stage, and all of 20 seconds later I found her sitting next to me. She was West Indian, and her casual Rihanna-like accent gently wafted over me. Feeling her hand on my thigh, I quickly threw out the same tried-and-true shield I had used on her coworkers in self-defense: “I’m not buying dances tonight; I know you’re on your hustle, so I don’t want to waste your time...” Her response? With a sly grin, she cooed, “Who sed enehtheeng abou ta dance?”
Though she was petite, my West Indian Princess was a woman of big plans. “I want you to give me baybeez,” she said with twinkling eyes. “You and me could make some beautiful baybeez. We don’t have to git mayred. I doan want money or enehtheeng; I juss want you to give me baybeez. You have to get tested first; then you can give me baybeez.”
I mean… What’s $15,000, really? Who can put a price on happiness?
For maybe the first time in history, someone (…that being me) was saved by someone else’s shameless hating (…that being B). Having not made the same type of deep, spiritual connection with any ladies, the homie wanted to roll out. And he was driving, so me standing up to him in the name of love wasn’t going to happen. Alas, my West Indian Princess and I were torn apart. [Maybe Nancy can pick her up on her way to Pittsburgh?]
We moved on to Binions, intent on finding a blackjack table where we could drown all the hate and heartache in some split aces. A quick stroll through the premises proved fruitless, though, and we decided it was time to move back to the Strip. Remembering our encounter with the off-duty Paris dealer the night before, we chose that as our destination. B decided to call it a night, but dropped us off at the doors with some daps and a “Good luck.”
Being inside Paris is always a little disconcerting [*stifles a “night vision/Rick Salomon” joke*]. The casino’s interior is designed to simulate a sunny Parisian day, 24/7. When a heavy Friday night crowd is bustling around well after 3 a.m., it’s like having your eyelids stapled-open, then being bombarded by the flashing signs from roulette and Pai-gow tables. We searched for the blackjack-dealing cutie from Tommy Rockers, but halfway around the gaming floor T.C. remembered that Friday was her night off. Dupa, undeterred, found a table to play on; T.C. and I considered our options: Spend $15 a hand on blackjack, or $12 a round on draughts. We flipped peace signs at Dupa and headed to a bar just off the floor.
We got ourselves a couple of comfortable barstools and a couple of tall glasses of…some kind of beer [if you can still remember details like the brand of alcohol you’re ingesting by the 67th hour of a Vegas trip, then you’re clearly doing something wrong]. It had been a long time (the previous couple of days excluded) since T.C. and I had gotten to hang out together one-on-one. Marriage, fatherhood, responsibilities—and whatever booze and loose women I happened to be occupying my time with—have a way of limiting your chances to have a beer at a bar with one of your boys. Realizing we were in the waning hours of the voyage, we talked about life, soaked in the fake-Parisian atmosphere, and toasted to one hell of a trip.
Near the bottom of his first draught, T.C. taunted me for being behind. Even in our most reflective, camaraderie-laced moments, guys have to be dicks to each other. ‘Tis the rule. As I chugged the last quarter of my glass, Dupa appeared; his birthday luck was officially no more, the dealers having handed him a small beating at his table. We suggested he pull up a stool next to us, but he chose to call it a night. We wished him safe travels, and ordered another round. And then, as though the Sin City gods had found one last blank box on a “Vegas Experiences” checklist for us, two beautiful blonde cougars stepped up next to us at the bar. Well now…
The more engaging—and hotter—of the two introduced herself as "Terry Jones". “That sounds like a porn name,” I noted, ever-so-suavely. She laughed in agreement, though, which made me all the more certain it was a “Vegas name”. I’m sure to her husband and her fellow PTA members in Oklahoma she’s “Susan Kowalski” or “Rebecca Smith”, etc. But when she’s on the prowl with her BFF at 4 a.m. in Vegas? “Terry Jones”. Sure. Any two names will do.
I certainly wasn’t going to grill her on it. Ms. Jones was stacked; her body and face could have easily appeared between the covers of Playboy 15 years ago, and yet neither would give you the slightest reason to suggest it was past its “prime”. And her personality held up its end of the bargain, as she fell right into bullshitting with the two of us about her night, and about how a creepy older gentleman was following them around and trying to buy his way into her friend’s heart (and failing horribly at it). I considered—this being Las Vegas, after all—that she might be a pro, and trying to get us on the hook. If she and her friend were prostitutes, though, why avoid the guy trying to spend his grandchildren’s inheritance on them? Especially for two younger guys drinking draught beers at the floor bar? And they were definitely trying to get away from the geriatric creeper: Ms. Jones’ friend would disappear with him, reappear without him, and then dejectedly walk off with him again when he’d come back in search of her. No, I concluded, Ms. Jones was just a regular gal out trying to have fun. …Well, a regular gal that looked and sounded like a “MILFs Like It Big” scene, with the fake name to match.
Although I understood just what the level of legendary-ness would be if I were to cap off my Vegas trip with an “I boned the hottest 39-year-old you’ve ever seen” tale, I couldn’t deny that I was starting to drag. Ms. Jones’ body made me want to get her into bed, but I was afraid once we got there my body would shut down. T.C. was as ride-or-die as ever, and did his best to keep me in the game. He put in a commendable wingman effort, but it wasn’t to be. By 5 a.m., I waved off Iceman’s suggestion to pull the trigger on another round, deciding instead to head back to base. Ms. Jones, more than likely, could’ve made my legs go numb; but that was of little concern when I already couldn’t feel them beneath me. T.C. and I bid the ladies adieu, and stumbled back to the PH through the haggard streets of 5 a.m. Vegas, hitting our beds without removing so much as the shoes from our feet.
The next morning, still disoriented, all three of us haphazardly packed suitcases, tossing dirty underwear in next to disillusioned realities. We ate breakfast at Planet Dailies, and then hopped into cabs [Dupa, instead of going straight back to Pittsburgh with us, was heading to a work event elsewhere in Nevada] at the curbside pick-up—the very same place where we’d arrived 76 hours earlier, animated and ready for all Las Vegas had to give us. And although Dupa “died” Wednesday, T.C. “died” Thursday, and I “died” Friday, the one thing that Vegas had given to each of us, really, was life. Three days in Vegas tells you who you are and who your friends are. It shows you everything you could ever want, and makes you grateful for everything you’ve ever had. You cherish the present, embrace the past, and toast to the future. It’s not that it makes life greater; no, it simply makes you accept just how great life is.
My cousin has recently suggested I join him for a bachelor party in Vegas this upcoming September. If I go, I’ll be sure to have the results of my latest STD test on the ready in my pocket. A guy’s got to start a family sooner or later, right?