You don’t land in Las Vegas, rather you slap down on scorched earth, skin screeching against asphalt, blisters form and then you squint and carry on. Then the stewardess says “Welcome to Las Vegas. The temperature here is approximately one million degrees.” Off starboard, the Wynn properties glitter like toys on a collector’s shelf, the setting for action figures cased in plastic. You try to walk and the wind shoulders past you, knocking you on your ass again. Your lungs wither inside your chest and about five minutes later, they are cautious to try another breath. This is how it is. This is what you have. This is when I realize that I am fucking stupid for wearing a black dress and strappy cork sandals with four inch heels to the airport. Forty pounds of fat instantly liquefies in the sun and slides down the back of my thigh. It will not be enough.
At the car rental counter, we had agreed upon a hybrid car, one that would be good for the planet, one that we could use to make ourselves feel better about immersing ourselves in this soulless hedonistic place, this adult-version of Sin Disney, but when pressed in my role as Car Picker Upper, since I landed several hours earlier, I could only ask for forgiveness if I walked up to the car counter and accidentally slipped into a Jaguar or something. I said this as a joke, because this is how we joke, about alternate personalities that we don’t really have, but when I actually stand at the rental counter, another personality comes out and I end up with a Cadillac that requires the destruction of 1% ozone layer just to make it across the street. I don’t care. The air-conditioner is strong enough to store dead bodies, and the trunk is so large that I suspect the theory just might have been tested at some point. Perhaps then studied carefully by one Mister Gil Grissom. The thought gives me tinglies. I have inappropriate thoughts about Gil Grissom, I’ll admit. Highly inappropriate thoughts.
I find TJ’s and pick up provisions, most of which will spoil in the trunk of the car. In a feat of brilliance, I decide to slip out of my sandals and run back to the trunk of the car to dig out a pair of ballet slippers. Barefoot, I make it almost to the trunk before I realize that the soles of my feet are actually sizzling and run back to the car. In other parts of the country, the rules are different. I should know this, and yet, sometimes it bites me in the ass. I am not very smart. I apologize to Gil Grissom in my head.
Back at the airport, I collect Jake, and we are off to the first of our hotels, the Las Vegas Hilton, where we are upgraded as VIPs but it still doesn’t soothe the fact that we’ve quarantined ourselves in a 3 star for the weekend to save money to score VIP show tickets. We are horribly shallow people. After snacks and a quick vodka/cranberry, we part to dress for the show and then hit a cab which takes four hours to get there. I have on ridiculous shoes, absolutely stupidly ridiculous shoes, and oh, the bottoms of my feet are on fire, but all of that disappears when we sit in the perfect vantage point, sip on some frozen pear rum drink and then Dragone’s dancers provide eye candy to Celine Dion’s incredible warbling. I am no longer going to make fun of that woman, because really, she is fantastic. Even though she’s a little crazy.
After, we agree that there is nothing that we can do to top the spectacle of C’est Celine, so we step outside into the blast furnace of an evening, and see a cab line that stretches for thousands of feet, full of tourists wearing white shoes and baggy shorts and I hate the world, fucking hate the world. I slip out of my shoes, walk across the fake cobbled valet station of Caesar’s, lean into the window of a Town Car and ask if the gentleman would be available for hire. He looks down my rack and apologizes and seems to really truly mean it, and then calls up another guy, who agrees to take us on the most expensive seven minute cab ride of my entire life. Unbelievable, but I just didn’t care, as we are in Vegas and in Vegas, there are no rules, no consequences, and the good people of Mastercard perhaps made a gross error in judgment when they gave me a practically unreachable spending limit. It was a bit like a challenge, after all.
In the morning, we get up and head to Bouchon for a delightful breakfast on the patio. It is shaded and not quite hot yet, and the cheese Danish is still absolutely wonderful, as is the mint-infused pot du crème for dessert. Sadly, however, I can already feel the party in my uterus starting to gear up and know that I can’t eat even a morsel more than I should, as any pressure whatsoever, from bending, eating, a pillow, what have you, will start the cramping in earnest. It sucks, this being a woman. I want to cry. Many times, I want to cry. Mostly because I am miserably bloated, have a ruined face that is starting to flake off in the dry heat, and feel as though the entire world hates me. Fucking timing, man. You have to love that.
We do some shopping at Sephora, because when in doubt, make up almost always makes me feel better. I spend too much money, but the good girl fixes my face and introduces me to a fantastic new blush and life is getting a little better. We continue shopping at the Fashion Show Mall, where I end up with some incredible Coach sunglasses and talk Jake into buying not-so-ostentatious Prada sneakers. After a lemonade and Hot Dog On A Stick, we head back to the hotel and hit the Star Trek Experience for a gigantic fishbowl of Warp Core Breach, a drink that has eight million shots of rum in it, and chunks of dry ice and is delicious, absolutely delicious. Sufficiently drunkened, we hit the Experience and laugh all the way through it, drunk dialing Fu while waiting in the line and being threatened by geeks for not taking the Experience seriously enough. If I had been sober, I might have made a sad face and said “Sorry that you feel thwarted even in what should be your little Geek Mecca” except that I wasn’t, so instead, I just laughed cruelly at them for trying to be all threatening. They are so cute when they get angry.
Back at the Hilton, we walk past an empty craps table, and since that’s on our list of things to do in Vegas, Jake buys some chips and we learn how to play the game. Soon, he is unstoppable, so I buy some chips and start betting as well. When I try throwing the dice, we both immediately lose, so I declare him to be my designated hitter during craps. We had a delightful turn gambling, until a tourist couple want to get in on our joviality and take a turn throwing the dice. We immediately lose, so cash out, each of us almost doubling our money. Sweet.
Running late, we run up to the rooms to get dressed for Barry Manilow, where we sit on the stage, four feet from the man as he pretends to toke from a joint. Except that holy shit, he is old and wears Tina Turner’s wig now. And also lip syncs during the songs that require choreography. We shouldn’t be surprised, since we are the youngest people in the audience by five years. Or, as Jake remarks, it would have been ten, but one guy brought the trophy wife. Sadly, also, Jake strikes up a conversation with the people sitting next to us and learns that they are from Wisconsin. Green Bay, in fact. And came in to Vegas on my flight and oh yeah, I’d be seeing them on the flight home too. This is my life. I need to move the fuck out of here.
After Barry, Jake connects with a friend via phone, who invites us out to the Mermaid Lounge somewhere very far away. We catch a weird cab ride where the cabbie explains that he is the dispatcher for the night and then proceeds to argue via radio and then cell phone with another cabbie about a fare that is either waiting at Irene’s, Doreen’s or Noreen’s, one of which was or was not where the fare said it was. The cabbie then even told the party on the other end of the line that Jake and I heard the fare say where they were as well, and then we feared for our safety and could only agree that yeah, it was so out of line and man, that other guy is a total asshole, and here would be fine if you just want to drop us off, thanks.
At the Mermaid Lounge, we meet Lindsay and her delightful friends, who buy us a shot of truly awesome tequila and then we head to Krave, which is crazy packed and full of hot men, lots and lots of hot men. I decide that my cramps are going to cut this evening short if I don’t sit down, so I spot the VIP section and walk over, asking for a couch table, which we get. Determination and a credit card really gets you far (although I believe Jake’s credit card took that hit, since I don’t see it on mine). I hang out and sip Vodka and Red Bull, hoping desperately to thwart the agony in my gut the old fashioned way, but despite all of my efforts, I stay decidedly sober, achy and cranky. WTF? Dancing is out of the question, but I hold down the fort and chat with our bar boy, also named Jake, and watch the crowd (Ok, I mostly watch a very ripped go go dancer we christen Vin Diesel, because the man was absolutely lickable) and the awesome floor show from one Miss Amanda Lepore. Later, she retires to the VIP couch next to us, so we spend the rest of the evening basking in her fabulousness. And then suddenly, all of my ministrations of Ketel One kicks in and I am not sober, not drunk, just really really awful and not well, so my night is sober, sober, sober, sober, sick. Lovely. I need to leave, so tell Jake to stay, but he is a gentleman and escorts me out to a cab, where we pass Richie Rich (my brilliant rejoinder: “Oh Fuck, that IS Richie Rich, isn’t it?”), and takes me back to the hotel, where I want to die many times over, sympathetic twin throbs of pain from both my head and uterus. Sadly, I do not die, but rather I dream that I have died and my corpse mummifies immediately in the 2% humidity and archaeologists find it centuries from now and wonder at the weird scaled skin on my face that detracts from my perfect blush.