Alexandre de Bar – Easter Island, 1901
Vegas is the fucking best. People who make tired analogies about the evils it purportedly stands for are also those who refuse to dance at weddings, or spend entire shows complaining about the sound guy. Vegas is physics. A karmic balance. The utterly dead air of a Christian Science Reading Room in a mall outside of Topeka exists, so by the laws of Inverse Proportionality, Vegas also has to exist. It’s like bitching about hydrogen. Don’t like it? Don’t breathe. Against gambling? Then move over, rube, I wanna throw down six G’s on red 13.
So my friend and I are sitting in the audience of Crazy Girls, which bills itself as “Las Vegas’ Premier Nude Variety Show,” which really just means topless women do a few dance numbers, and then there’s a musician, a juggler, and the world’s least-funny comic. It’s the kind of utterly witless and embarrassing spectacle that Vegas not only excels at, but manages to make hilarious and fun. Afterward we went and shot machine guns drunk. Dangerously, giddily drunk! Pay to play, baby, worry about the lawsuit later. In a pawn shop window I saw a Raymond Weil watch. It was red and black and cost $1,200. It’s just the sort of oddly contradictory thing that I tend to get obsessed with in The World’s Best City, in which I suddenly desire something with the intensity of a thousand burning suns, matched only by the fact that I don’t care about it at all. I don’t even wear a watch. But I’d swilled a fair amount of cheap bourbon and that shiny fucker was sitting there like a dare. Acquire me! Don’t have the cash? Figure it out, genius! Monday Night Football was about to start. Dallas (-14) at Buffalo. An ugly spread. All the dumb, drunk money was riding on the Cowboys, as usual. “God love ‘dem Cowboys!” yelled the guy in line next to me, smelling like hot dog water and piles of lost cash. If both he and God were on Dallas’ side, they were doomed. So I slapped $400 on the Buffalo money line. They won outright. Paid 4-1. The last time I took that watch to get the battery changed, the jeweler offered me $3,800 for it on the spot. I guess it’s collectible or something. No way I’m selling the bastard, it’s going into the ground with me. We went to the Caesar’s Palace spa to celebrate. They actually have attendants in togas pouring wine and feeding people grapes. You’re just laying there naked in these decadent pools, sipping Merlot while some guy plays a lute. It feels right. Sure, I’d never have been king, but I could have been a viscount or something. At midnight we toweled off and went to the Peppermill for scorpion bowls. Rarely a wise move, and yet, also the wisest. The next morning, at a country-themed diner, I had scrambled eggs and a ham steak with the bone in. I kept saying “I’d like it with the bone in,” with this dumb southern accent. My friend kept laughing. The waitress did not laugh. She was poured into a nylon uniform and had seen it all twice. I tipped her $80 on a $60 check. Near the exit she kissed me on the cheek and said, “Thanks, hon. You’re the best.” The thing is, until the very second we lined up at the boarding gate, she was right.