When I was younger I saw Las Vegas as a place full of dreams, lights, and tripling your money while someone gave you a free suite at some hotel I couldn’t pronounce. Maybe all of these ideas came from movies like Swingers and that one, not that horrible, Nic Cage film. Actually, no, they did come from there since I spent most of my teenage years holed up in my room hoping I would meet Heather Graham and trying to ball up an entire fruit roll up and fit it in all in my mouth.
Dates: Non Existent.
Now that I’ve crossed the gap to 30 and live in Los Angeles I’ve been to Vegas more times than I can remember. (Aside: You know you have a cool city when you don’t even need to use the full proper city name to tell people where you are. Vegas. DC. San Fran. LA. The Q. Well, I’m guessing that’s what people call Albuquerque. Not that I’ve ever heard anyone refer to it as that, but I think we should start because using the least used letters of the alphabet as a nickname increases street credibility. Q. X. Z. Based on this fact if I ever have a kid he or she will be named Quexezzella. Very unisex. Very.)
The first few times you go to Vegas it’s as exciting as you can imagine. Look! A huge picture of some guy named Lance Burton! Cool! You take pictures of said Lance Burton since he seems important and you don’t know when you’ll get to see another billboard of someone else you’ve never heard of. Little do you know that you will see a 400 foot Rita Rudner right around the corner which is about 395 feet more of Rita Rudner than you need to see. But whatever, it’s Vegas. It’s new, it’s flashy, and we’re going to win so much money that Caesars will actually be our Palace.
Then you leave.
Throughout my 20s I went and left Vegas the same way every time. Excited to go. Feeling terrible when I left. This was due to the copious amounts of alcohol ingested in casinos pumped full of air to make you feel superhuman. This was also due to donating money to the fine private owners of hotel casinos after a rousing 15 minutes of craps and going to a Vegas club where leering at women wearing mostly nothing costs around $12 for a drink.
I take my martini cheap.
This past weekend I went to Vegas to spend a few days with my parents. They had never been and I was dubbed “The Expert.” (Double Aside: I just ran a quick IMDB search on “The Expert” and saw that there has been no TV show in America with this name. I’m not sure how a TV show called “The Expert” couldn’t work. The premise? There’s a handsome 5’8 ½ sometimes 5’9 Indian guy that knows everything. I mean everything. People ask him for directions. He knows them. A pilot has a heart attack, he can land the plane. He knows why you park on a driveway and drive on a parkway. He is “The Expert”. But there’s another guy out there that thinks he’s “The Expert” and he keeps trying to foil me, I mean, “The Expert” with cockamamie stunts that nobody could possibly get. Who wouldn’t watch this show? The tagline is already done. “There’s Nothing He Doesn’t Know…Except Everything.” How does Wednesdays at 10 on ABC sound?)
Since my parents had never been to Vegas they wanted to see everything. Everything included the fake volcano erupting outside of The Mirage. In my many trips I had never seen this since I was too busy drinking or too busy napping in my room after drinking. But as I get older I want to do more things that I haven’t gotten to do so the fake volcano eruption outside of the Mirage it was. We get down to The Mirage to see a 5 minute show of fire busting out of pipes and some kind of tribal music blaring out of huge rocks to the roar of around 500 people waiting outside to see it. I’ve never seen people so joyful for something so fake since Joan Rivers face interviewed Milli Vanilli. My mid 50s mother came racing over saying “It was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!” The coolest thing she’s seen?!?! This is a woman that’s been to The Taj Mahal, Stonehenge, sat through 3 episodes of that Kardashian show and this, this fake volcano was the coolest thing she’s seen.
Fake it ‘til you make it, indeed.
I’m sure most of the people who watched it thought it was the best thing they’ve seen. Something so set up that it resembled neither Pompeii nor (insert another volcano) made her day and that’s when it hit me. Everyone thinks everything is cooler in Vegas. Fake volcanoes. Buffets. Celine Dion. Put those things in any other city and it becomes lame. Put them in front of a building that misspells “win” and you have a gold mine.
Ask George Wallace.