Viva Lost Vegas!

28 03 2009

In excitement, Jimmy told me ‘Las Vegas, Ashley. The lights. The people. And Money.’ – Ironically, they are also the things that everyone lose themselves into.”

                  

Everyone seemed like they were holding their breaths as they awaited my decision. I shuffled my chips in one hand while the other rubbed itself against the blackjack table. Times like these made me wish I was excellent in Math, however, the left side of my brain was more dominant than the right side, therefore, most subjects that induced logic (like say Science and Math) were overpowered with linguistics. I drew a breath and decided to seal and wave my hand as a ‘no’ to the dealer and get it over with. She then turned to the man next to me where he too waved his hand. She then flipped a card from the stack and a mixed emotions of joy and agony were heard among the gamblers and the audience – I joined the latter. I counted my chips and totaled twenty, a break even. While playing Blackjack I went up fifty, raised to a hundred, down to 15, up to 30 and decided if lose the last bet I would leave. I don’t gamble not at all. However, being in the sin city, you lose your senses and get easily hooked on to something to enjoy your stay otherwise you’d be bored. In which my case, to gamble was the answer.

We – Kristine, Jimmy and I – had arrived in the Sin City from San Francisco. Upon arriving to Las Vegas everything was dark on the road nothing to be seen but flicker of lights from far away, I had this creepy sensation that we would wind up having one of the tires break and get stranded in the middle of the desert for the night. Images from The Hills Have Eyes replayed in my head, I freak myself out too much. The only enlightening thing to see during the drive in the desert were the stars, there were thousands of them numbers that you couldn’t even imagine counting past to 100. They flickered and bedazzled anyone who seek some light in the darkness. Then out of the corner of the valley a city blossomed. It wasn’t Las Vegas yet, but the lights from Reno got Kristine (who was driving in the desert, what a trooper), Jimmy and I excited. Bright lights, that’s all I could remember from it as we past by this mini-casino-ville. If this was what Reno looked like, I anticipated a big schock from Las Vegas. We continued driving there was no stopping this time. Tired from the day’s worth of driving we hurried to get ourselves to Las Vegas, straight to the hotel, lodge and have our sleep for the next day it was time to be sinful.

Then there it was…
A mirage.

Jimmy who was sitting in the backseat leaned over to the passenger seat and extended his hands to both sides of my shoulders. In excitement, he told me “Las Vegas, Ashley. The lights. The people. And Money.” on which he made gestures such as: flashed his hands, clapped between my head and rubbed his thumbs to the rest of his fingers, synchornized to the prequeled statement. Ironically, they are also the things that everyone lose themselves into.

Las Vegas, indeed was a mirage. It seemed everything here was spruced up to make believe that you are in another place and not really in a city stuck in the middle of the desert. You’re not really riding a Gondola in Venice, you’re not famous either in Planet Hollywood. The Eiffel tower was just a replica and the Roman gods weren’t really alive. The pirates weren’t out to take your treasures and you didn’t really step into the tomb of Tutankhamen – no wonder Magicians love performing here. The lions at the MGM however, were real.

Like the stars that I saw driving in the desert, the lights in Las Vegas could master up a coordination of flashes and twinkles you simply couldn’t ignore. There was no need to step outside to appreciate these artificial stars, they were even built inside the Casino. No, not just inside The Venetian but they were scattered ’round about in any corner you could possibly think of. At some point we were having dinner at a restaurant the people next to us had told us that ever since arriving in the sin city, they had lost track of time. It was just too bright that you couldn’t even tell if it was day or night, or if you were inside or out. The insomniacs, may have had their benefits on this, but who needed sleep when you are in the city of entertainment?

                   

“Las Vegas, indeed was a mirage. It seemed everything here was spruced up to make believe that you were in another place and not really in a city stuck in the middle of the desert. – no wonder Magicians loved performing here”.

                 

What amazed me in Las Vegas was that it didn’t just live up to it’s image of a mirage, but whoever came to visit also puts up a facade. You could be whoever you wanted to be! Identity was just another word they often threw around outside of Vegas. It didn’t matter who you were, where you came from, what your name was – or at least for the most of us (High rollers, move to the VIP). I have been joined by a man with a cowboy hat, a younger lady with an older gent, two college jocks, a man that seemed that he shouldn’t be there anymore (or at least his wife kept telling him to leave the table in Vietnamese or perhaps Taiwanese), four more ordinary looking people, and a man in a suit all in one Craps table. We didn’t greet each other, tell each other’s lives nor where we’re from – we were all there to win, each man to his own. When I walked out of that table, I was totally drunk, but nobody seemed to mind (except for the manager and security who tried to escort me and my friends out of the casino). But it was such freedom to be not embarassed of being that drunk even when the next day my friends had recounted my embarassing moments, I felt pretty good. It wasn’t an accomplishment but it wasn’t a defeat either, it was something bold for me. Drunk people walking around in the strip in the middle of the week was probably a common thing – my embarassing drunk performance was probably not even near ‘shocking’.

At the Forums Shopping Centre brand names such as GUCCI, Louis Vutton, Banana Republic, Ralph Lauren, CHANEL – whatever high-end-top-notch-brand there was available overwhelms a shopper. Jaw dropping tag prices marked their products but there was this guilt-free pleasure a buyer felt. All of a sudden, it felt like it was affordable where in the real world, we’d probably not even dare step into stores that would cost us an arm and a leg. People that lined up (rather a lack of ‘line up’, but a ‘mob up’) nightclubs were dressed up, blinged out and pimped for the occasion.

When I arrived in Las Vegas, I tried to avoid coming around any form of sport I could possibly lose my money into but that would be like trying to avoid the snow in the arctic. But alas, after being taught by a friend how to play Craps, I was hooked. It was easy money and just like that easy to lose to. And when you walk out of that table empty handed it seemed like your dignity was also flushed in the toilet. I’m even embarassed to disclose how much money I have lost in Las Vegas – however, the same friend that taught me how to play Craps asked me this: “Did you have fun though?” If playing the game was fun no matter how much losses there were, it did feel like it was worth it. I did have fun.

As long as I had fun.

And people were having fun, that was what they came for. You could lose all of your belongings in the real world, but in Las Vegas, it was accepted. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. It was the rush, the commosion, the excitement, the facade and the mirage – to sin a little was to live a little. To have not lost anything in Vegas was to not being able to BE in Vegas at all. I lost nothing that night I had a break even and vowed to walk away when I did, it was all for the sake of having fun. I walked towards the War Game table where Jimmy and Kristine played. As I sat, Jimmy had turned around and asked “Are you gonna play?”
“Sure,” I said.

All photos taken by me.

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3 responses

28 03 2009
matt

This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

9 04 2009
thevelvetfist

Nice write-up. Definitely a place I need to go to.

16 01 2012
Brian

wow, i always love reading your blogs!! you are amazing with the write-ups. you make it that much more exciting to adventure!! thanks!

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