It’s Thursday night, and I’m on a plane headed toward Vegas. I’m a tiny bit drunk (but we’ll get to that in a minute), and I’m ashamedly out of things to write about. That’s not to say I don’t have ideas – it’s really that I don’t want to write about them on a plane; I think those ideas deserve at least the modicum of fact checking the Internet allows. Unfortunately, almost certainly the next time I write will be on a plane too, and the time after that will be on a bus… but we’ll get to those when we get there. In the meantime, what’s important is that I’m on a plane headed toward Vegas, and I’m a tiny bit drunk.
I’ve been to Vegas before – twice, in fact, both times with friends from work. When we’ve gone, we’ve had a good time. We’ve played blackjack and craps, we’ve lost money (except for Patrick who I swear always comes out ahead somehow); we’ve seen shows and had dinners that were probably too expensive and stayed in rooms we had no business staying in. We’ve drunk too much and eaten too well and in one instance I chewed on a cigar and I got a bit queasy from it, before staying up all night and seriously considering (but not following through on) ordering a stripper wake up call for Patrick, because he went to bed and because he seriously keeps coming out ahead.
This is how I prefer to spend my time in Vegas – just testing the waters of things I wouldn’t do at home, without really committing to them. I like playing $5 blackjack. I enjoy spending a couple extra hours in the hotel room playing drinking poker (incidentally this is an awesome game we made up while we were in Vegas). If I go to the hotel pool, I want to go to the pool; I want to read a book in the sun or stand in the water and feel refreshed. I want to make fun of the frat stars waiting in line for the pool day club from afar while relaxing and doing my own thing. (All Vegas hotels have pool clubs; it’s weird.) In the generously paraphrased words of a guy who went with us last time (whom we shall call Gunnar – he reads this blog and tweets @gr8whitehoprah and is a Pretty Cool Dude), “I’ve done Vegas before, but it was 36 hours I mostly don’t remember; it wasn’t like this. I enjoyed this.”
This weekend I will not get to do those things, and I am terrified.
I am going to Vegas this weekend not with my work friends (who, as you can imagine, are all total nerds – sorry Gunnar). Instead, I am going to meet a couple of friends from school for a bachelor party. I thought that my brother’s bachelor party with 20 ex-frat stars in West Virginia was the bro-iest thing I would ever do, but I was wildly mistaken. As I’m on a plane (and too cheap to pay for internet), I can’t check my email to quote exactly, but to give you an idea of whom I’m going with, I received the following communication yesterday from the guy planning the party: “Bring bathing suits and stuff to swim in. Sun’s out, guns out, bitches.” He also began the email with “bitches,” and at least three other emails have begun in a similar vein.
I should be clear – I know the guy, and he’s a stand-up dude. In fact, all the guys I know that I’m meeting up with are stand-up dudes (I think there’s a friend from high school, and the bride’s (little?) brother will be there, so they’re kinda wild cards). They’re just distinctly not the dudes I really hung out with in college. They were basically the frattiest guys I knew – and to their credit the reason I didn’t really hang out with them all that much wasn’t that they thought they were too cool for me. It’s that I thought they were too cool for me. These guys were total frat stars – exactly the kids I want to be making fun of for standing in line at AQUAPOOL (they have to be in all caps and be water-themed, by the way). They were hooking up with strangers on the D-floor of Shooters II while I was trying to convince my less-adventurous friends that maybe it’d be cool if we just went to Sati’s tonight so we could say we did something this weekend. They were the people who, spring break senior year when seemingly the entire class went on a Caribbean cruise, won sexy legs competitions despite (or because) of their recent bilateral ACL reconstructions rendering them wheelchair bound; they were the people who, when we heard someone dove head-first into an empty pool and had to be airlifted off the boat, we were all worried that it just might have been them.
On the other hand, they are also the people who got Fulbright scholarships; who went to MIT for PhDs and Masters in engineering; who work in Boeing’s Super Secret Futures Division (this is a title I’m making up), where they get to solve tomorrow’s problems, today (or other trendy tech catchphrase). Hence my solid belief that they are, and always will be, cooler than me.
What I’m getting at here, in typical roundabout fashion, is that although I outwardly look down on their kind, in the end, specifically with these people, I actually admire them. That’s somewhat painful to admit, but it’s true. And this weekend, I will do my best to become one of them.
This will be an enormous step for me, but I don’t see that I have any choice. And not because I fear their judgment; they could have judged me for the three years they knew me in college before I had ever had a drink. They could have judged me when I did the optional assignment or mentioned how I went to Sati’s for an hour on Saturday night while they were swapping weekend battle stories. And maybe they did, but they were good enough not to show it.
No, I have to do this for me. So that I can have a good time this weekend without thinking, “Man, I just want to be poolside and reading,” or, “I wonder how long I can keep $100 alive at $5 blackjack.” And more importantly, because I’m a 26-year old man, and it’s long past time to do stupid things while I still can.
So this weekend, rather than standing in the pool, disdaining them from afar, I will join their kind. I will ooze the confidence of those who know that nothing they do at that moment matters, because there is always tomorrow. I will stand in line for SPLOOSHCLUB and make fun of the nerds reading by the pool. If the sun is out, my guns will be out. I will gel my hair and wear button downs at night clubs and go to “concerts” for DJs whose name are unpronounceable strings of consonants, and I will enjoy it. No – I will crush it.
And when this weekend is done, I’ll never do it again.
It would be wrong to describe the weekend as an unmitigated disaster. More like… a mitigated disaster, I guess?
I’m now sitting in McCarran International Airport in sunny Las Vegas. I was supposed to take the 1:00 flight out — I ditched the party early in the hopes that I could avoid taking the red eye like everyone else — but my flight has been delayed by seven and a half hours while we wait for a plane that isn’t experiencing technical difficulties, and now I’m getting in at 4:30 in the morning. Guess whose eyes will be red! It’s my eyes.
Luckily, McCarran has free wifi (hooray!), so I’m able to write this addendum and hopefully post the whole thing before I get home. Apologies if it makes no sense; I haven’t slept in 4 days.
To give you an idea of the disasters faced, in no particular order, I spent ten hours overnight in the hospital, the bride’s brother was roofied and mugged, everyone saw the groom’s ass, and we went to a Deadmau5 concert (it’s pronounced “dead mouse,” not “deadmow-five”). We lost the groom one night. We drank directly from bottles. It rained. One of the guys would shout his own name as a sort of animalistic warning to potential rivals and said “Damn, you look good!” every time he looked in a mirror. In short, disaster.
And yet, notwithstanding all of those things, I had a great time. (That’s not true, I also enjoyed the enormously vain dude, he is hilarious. I don’t think he appreciated my near-constant judgment, though.) It was really interesting to see that side of Vegas, which is definitely the side of Vegas that most people apparently come to see. I didn’t do great at being a total bro, but at the same time I didn’t do terribly (I don’t even think that I was the least competent bro there). I had always assumed it involves a lot of just drunkenly grinding up on girls, but it turns out it really involves just having yelled conversations above the music to meet new people, then using the music as an excuse to make your move and grind up on them. Since my biggest problem is making moves, I can kinda see how this could help me out. Unfortunately, in this context my biggest problem turns into being totally unable to hear anything or anyone except the music, so unless I learn to read lips, I don’t see how I would ever be able to succeed. Of course, even among the group, there was a huge variation in success — some people were really good at meeting new people; meanwhile, the groom got propositioned by a bachelorette, which was … weird, to say the least. (Also, I should note, he is the best wing man, probably because he’s not worried about going home with anyone himself.)
I also learned that apparently one of the biggest draws of Vegas is actually the day clubs — these are usually the pool clubs I mentioned above. In the words of one of the girls I met, everywhere has night clubs; that’s nothing new. Day clubs, on the other hand, are unique to Vegas. And they’re exactly what they sound like — clubs that are open during the day. It just happens that (especially in April), the weather is fantastic during the day, so a lot of them are outside / in and around pools (and get converted into outdoor nightclubs, where they typically cover up the pool). They then stuff as many people in as they can, get a famous DJ to come by, and pump up the volume as loud as they can. It ends up being kinda fun, or at least I can totally understand the appeal. Although, to be fair, I think it varies wildly — mad props to the guys who planned this whole thing for picking really good clubs, both night and day.
On the other hand, this trip was the most expensive I’ve taken to Vegas, and that includes two 2-bedroom suites twice the size of my apartment back home. I had always assumed that Vegas made its money on the casino floor; this is why there’s free drinks there, to entice people to just feed money into the system. On the contrary, it turns out they make all of their money on booze in clubs. At one of the day clubs we went to, we paid $12 for Coronas. In cans. Each. You can buy a case of Corona for that much in most states. Literally, the hotel minibar, the undisputed King of Rip-offs, was cheaper than this. By 50%. We did bottle service in one of the night clubs one night; this service is specifically designed to suck money out of you. You can’t sit down anywhere unless you get bottle service, because all of the tables are reserved; the cheapest bottle available is about $500, and there’s a two bottle minimum. We ended up getting three, because they give your little table its own velvet rope and bouncer, who goes out into the crowd and invites women to your section (it turns out they tend to be prostitutes; they give him a kickback if he gets them business). You end up giving away almost all of your booze in free drinks to other people, and once you’re out of booze there’s no reason for people to visit your section, so you basically can’t let that happen. We bought two bottles of Jamieson and a bottle of Absolut and wound up spending over $2000. I don’t know what the total damage ended up being, but I’d guess it was at least double what I’ve paid the other times I’ve been, and it should be noted that I actually went slightly up on the house during the half-hour that I spent playing blackjack.
All-in-all, I had a great time; I really enjoyed hanging out with everyone, even the two new guys (I was wrong about the friend from high school, he was actually the bride’s cousin; the brother ended up staying with me at the hospital — that will be the subject of my next post). It’s not how I would personally choose to do Vegas, but I knew it wouldn’t be going in; in the end it was exactly what I expected it to be: a chance to branch out and do something I would never normally do, in a way that I probably won’t ever do again. And in that way, it was an unmitigated success.
I also live-blogged my experience on Twitter. It ranges from desperately boring to mildly humorous. I tweet @Carscafmoo