Monday, August 10, 2009

Vegas: July '06

It was about the be the third time in a year that I was going to make the trip back to the sacred ground known as the Las Vegas strip. But my dad was going out for a conference/convention for work, and he had a ton of frequent flyer miles, so what the hell? I wasn’t paying for it, and neither was he, so bring it on. Besides, this would be my first visit to the area in the summer months for poolside enjoyment since I was 21.

We left Cincinnati around 10 a.m., flew direct, met the people dad was “conventioning” with, and made our way to the hotel. Something just didn’t feel quite the same as times I’d had arrived in visits past. I didn’t have the same buzz. I wasn’t singing Elvis to myself. Probably not a good sign. The best gamblers in the world will tell you that vibes, feelings, hairs standing on the back of your neck are just myths. I’m compelled to disagree. By about 11:30 Vegas time, we were at the pool running up an absolutely retarded tab. Vivacious, rum-based concoctions were flowing like water down a mountain. It was 1:15 before I realized that I still hadn’t eaten anything that day, and as far as my stomach was concerned, it was just after 4.

Several more hours of enjoyment passed, and before I knew it, we had run up a $600 bar tab buying whatever sounded good for whoever walked by. Apparently, I’m in the wrong line of work? But it was time to take our leave, get changed, and gather again for dinner.

Just before we arrived Planet Hollywood had bought out the Aladdin, where we were staying, and the corporation was in the process of making the changes in décor, gaming, and unfortunately, restaurants. I say unfortunately, because the place we ate that night was called Elements, and it was absolutely amazing. In spite of my best efforts, I can’t find it in Planet Hollywood or anywhere else on the strip. But we packed it in early for the night because whatever semblance of a conference that was going on was starting the next day.

The bulk of the next day, I was on my own. And I never thought that I would say this, but Vegas, by yourself, when you’re not an obsessive gambler, between the hours of 9-3:30 or 4, can be really dull. Yeah, I know. I can’t believe I just said it either? But I hate gambling by myself, and the pool scene was kind of dead. On a side note, for as cool a room as we had and as nice as the hotel was, their pool deck is somewhat lacking. About an hour at the tables yielded a few bucks, but I just can’t sit by myself at a table for any substantial amount of time. Thankfully, around 4, everyone was done with whatever business was being conducted, and the party was set to resume.

That night would mark a triumphant return to Red Square to do battle with the Russkie. We had a party of roughly 20, and totally monopolized the center of the restaurant. And in an effort to help dad’s business, (why not, if not for the company, I wouldn’t be there) I moved from table to table, striking up conversations and helping with drink orders. Cool job you have here, dad. So what do you actually do again? Apparently, spend a stupid amount of money on food and booze in an effort to get people to like you.

In the corner of the restaurant, easily missed if you weren’t looking for it, was the “vodka locker” for the “Red Square Vodka Experience”. Yeah, that’s what it’s actually called on the bill. What you do is go into a small, very cold room with coats and hats on, and drink vodka that starts at $200 a bottle from all over Mother Russia. Gotta tell ya, $200 vodka chilled to 25 degrees tastes an awful lot like $30 vodka chilled to 25 degrees. For all we know, it was just Smirnoff or Absolut.

Next door to Red Square is Rumjungle, a danceclub/bar and they might even have a restaurant in there too? So we stepped next door, when all I really wanted to do was go back to the room. All the people we were with were all together too happy to be out in Vegas, cutting loose, away from spouses or responsibility, and it was just becoming less and less my scene. I just wasn’t into it.

What better way to get into it then to have a brush with greatness?

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