Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Stays in Las Vegas

Las Vegas was all it promised to be: hedonism on tap. My girlfriend and I took full advantage. However, there was a disturbing undercurrent which I really only understood on the second night. The whole town is run like an adult theme park, people shepherded from airport to gaming tables with possible detours to restaurants and shows, but all highly controlled by security personnel. In the nightclub I found a flashlight directed onto my toes. “If you don’t put your shoes back on you’ll have to leave,” came the gravely voice of a man with a curly wire in his ear and the shoulder span of a pterodactyl. “Excuse me, I need your towel!” screeched the bikini-clad young girl guarding the doors from the pool. An attempt to stop theft, or free titillation for the casino guests as women in wet swimwear stumble around slot machines to find the only restrooms in the complex? At night, going up to your room, another curly wire man in the generic Mafiosi suit holds the elevator door for you. The elevator camera records the results of too many banana daiquiris framed by leopard carpet and mirrors. A small security man and a very big dog wonder around to sniff out bombs (Bin Laden’s heard of the Hard Rock?) and simultaneously terrorize the Girls Gone Wild and the liquored-up young men in Fedora and Bermuda shorts who come to watch them. It was like being at a teenage party when the parents don’t leave.

In case you were confused, the primary interest of Peter Morton and the other casino owners is not your enjoyment. He wouldn’t have been able to sell his place for $770 million without keeping an eye on his investment in pool towels. At 6PM the people herders dressed in bikinis and playing-card Bermudas clear the pool area. Later, if you should stray out to enjoy the balmy air under the stars, a security man electronically rigged to People Control will politely guide you back inside to the air conditioned gaming. Waitresses magically appear at your elbow at the crap table, beside the slot machine, in line at the reception desk, while reapplying your lipstick in the restroom: “Can I get you anything to drink?” Rock music fills the space normally reserved for rational thought and budgeting. A white-feathered bra? A cigar? What I thought were table-tennis bats? Thank goodness the casino stores were at hand to reveal what I had been lacking by way of entertainment.

“There is no coffee machine in the room,” I complained to the concierge, clutching my tea bags and UHT milk. What naivety to believe that the Starbucks concession wouldn’t have seen to that. “I can get room service to bring you hot water,” the slicked and groomed young woman told me, eying my tea bags like so much contraband (perhaps the dog wasn’t for bombs, after all),“for a charge.” Seeing as the water in the mini bar cost more than my weekly groceries, I declined.

Extraordinarily, despite the inducement to party the night away (as long as it is within range of the gambling), somehow the engineering department hasn’t read the memo and sends out leaf blowers at 8AM and stations them directly below the guest windows. “Shut up down there!” cried a woman’s voice from a 12th floor window. Empty plastic daiquiri glasses rained onto the concrete. To no effect. Duly programmed, we all appeared an hour later for breakfast and (was it coincidental?) the first heavy metal track and running landing of waitresses in substantial footwear but not much else that signaled the opening of the pool.

“I would just like to let you know that this was the only jarring note in an otherwise satisfactory stay,” I complained to the concierge about the leaf blowers. “It’s mandated hotel procedure,” she explained through her nose in a less-than conciliatory fashion. My friend Hanna fared better when she complained about the lack of the promised cabana. “Don’t offer me something and then don’t give it to me!” she said, leaning her 6’1” frame over the counter. Her face was redder than ever from the sun and the blond tips to her spiky hair looked like they might just be dipped in poison. We suddenly found ourselves with a free dinner. If only Hanna had been negotiating those treaties, it might have been me growing up on a reservation. Or maybe there was a certain respect for her Native American blood in a casino town. They save the fighting for ballot initiatives.

So what did Hanna and I get up to in this Mecca of vice, this playground for those who want to let go, but lack the imagination? There was much laughter while oiling up our suntans and watching music videos on the plasma TV; gentlemen from Santa Barbara who plied us with drinks and taught us how to shoot craps; and even some tipi creeping on the last night. I would give you a full account, but you know what they say, “What happens in Vegas…”

Copyright © 2006 Louise Godbold


Anonymous said...

You have reaffirmed my conviction that Las Vegas is the antithesis of a vacation and more closely resembles one of those weekend seminars where you are coerced into buying timeshares.

eRabbit said...

Falling Leaf and I enjoyed Vegas. Albeit, we spent most of our time in subterranean super malls and hang out at the Lexor. Lots of underground stuff there. I suppose that’s where most of the vampires hang out.

I like your writing style Lou. I’m a new fan.

Dan's Library said...

Tipi crawling! Don't leave out those parts? Or are those parts only available to subscribers?