Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Issue 5: Sin City

This past weekend was my best friend Pat’s bachelorette party – in Vegas! My luck began on the flight out to Vegas. I was seated in the back of the plane, along with 25 Irish guys on their way to a bachelor party. The drink cart never made it past our section. As the flight attendant would try to move forward, someone she had served three rows back would order another round. They insisted on buying me drinks. Thus, at the end of the 1.5 hour flight, I was 1.5 sheets to the wind.

Las Vegas is over 100 degrees during the day – it felt just like DC! We headed down to Freemont St. Now, earlier in the week, my officemate Mike taught me how to play blackjack. Apparently, this is something everyone knows how to do, another hole in my basic knowledge. BUT, I’ll be honest, I didn’t gamble – I’m not ready for that yet.

Saturday night we went to see …."The Thunder from Down Under!!" That’s right – a "male revue." I’m not really allowed to talk about the show because of that famous adage "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas", but I think that I can talk about what I did. I touched a stripper!! He had a very firm…handshake. I’ll be honest, I was scared of the women at the show. We spent the rest of the evening checking out some of the casinos on the strip.

Vegas, and the Strip in particular, are unimaginable if you haven’t been here. It’s all about OVER THE TOP! Lights! Neon! Immense Scale! The buffet tables are longer, everything stays open late, late, late etc. etc. It’s like an adult (and I do mean "adult") version of Chuck E. Cheese. And I didn’t like it. I should have been dazzled by everything, and on some level I was, but mostly I was thinking, "Fall of Rome…Fall of Rome!" Surprisingly, Vegas brought out my granola side: I couldn’t stop thinking that all the time, energy, and money that went into the edifices on the Strip could have been used for good. While the girls gambled, I went and bought a book at one of the Mandalay Bay stores. So, I found my own perfect little experience in Vegas: reading "Madame Bovary" at midnight, watching the casino-goers float by. There’s nothing funnier than seeing a bride (full-on big, white, "I am a cake" dress, etc.) playing a slot machine.

The next night, I took Pat to see "Zumanity", the Cirque du Soleil show at New York, New York. I’ve been a huge Cirque fan for years, so going to one of the shows resident in Vegas was a goal. (The other ones are O (aka the one in water), and Mystere.) When a Vegas ticket office warns you repeatedly about the adult content of a show, you know it’s going to be "interesting." And it was. I probably would have been shocked by some of the content at the beginning of my Vegas adventure, but that didn’t occur to me until later.

Vegas was eye-opening, thrilling, frightening, and thought-provoking… and I was thankful to get back to the Bay.

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