Friday, November 9, 2007

You know what's fuckin' awesome? America, part III.c

Before you read, please be sure to check out parts 1 and 2. Cheers!

(So where were we? Ah yes, H-Squared and I just exited the Stratosphere, and we had begun to walk the Strip, which I had never done before. Also, women are teases, and rides in Las Vegas are ripoffs. I think that pretty much sums it up.)

Finally, here I am. Walking the Strip in Las Fucking Vegas. Granted, the Strip that everyone considers “The Strip” is still a ways off, but fuck it. I’ve got a few scotches in me, H-Squared is doing well on his Harvey Wallbangers, so a little mid-afternoon stroll is in perfect order. But man oh man, it’s friggin’ bright. (Las Vegas is in the desert, have you heard?) I could use some sunglasses.

It’s Friday, May 4, 2007, and tomorrow holds so much promise: Cinco de Mayo, the Kentucky Derby, and the biggest boxing match in recent history (De La Hoya vs. Mayweather). What better place to be for such a monumental weekend? After all, the centerpiece—the fight—is being held at the MGM Grand, where H-Squared and I intend to watch the Derby in the afternoon, then the fight on its megascreens later that night. Ah, I can’t fucking wait.

So first things first, it’s time to get me a hat. H-Squared already has this little straw fedora thing he showed me on the flight.So I know I’m gonna be second-class if I don’t have equally excellent headgear. Though I like what H-Squared bought, there's the slight possibility of being mistaken for (gasp) a hipster. And that just can't happen. I'm thinking about something a bit more rugged, a bit more manly. Something like...

Yeah, that'll do it. And since we’ve got ourselves a nice long walk down the Strip to get back to Vegas proper, I’m pretty sure we’ll pass by some establishment that treats in the hat-selling realm. So we walk.

Not soon after, it hits us. God, are we stupid—we don’t have drinks! Suddenly desperate to correct this horrific failure, we sprint across the street to a gas station, which, of course, has a huge beer selection. We toss around the idea of getting something exotic, maybe a rare microbrew we couldn’t get back East or something, but then we see it. The obvious answer: 24-ounce cans of Coors Light for one whole American dollar. Sweet. “And two brown bags, please,” I say to the nice Armenian-looking man behind the counter.

Now back on the street (and properly equipped), we resume our search for my fedora. As we brown-bag it down the street, we pass by numerous groups of people covering all ages and races. But no matter how different each group is, one thing stands out—Vegas. The people in these groups are inevitably smiling; they are clearly having a blast, regardless of where they’re from or what they look like.

Just like us. With each group that passes, H-Squared and I exchange some new variation on how awesome is it to be here with them. At a dry 76-degrees Fahrenheit on a cloudless day while carrying a cold beer and riding a nice buzz, it’s incredibly nice to run into like-minded strangers, even for a fleeting moment.

A-ha! A souvenir shop! This place clearly sells hats (the sign says “HATS,” among other things), so we trek through a parking lot large enough to fit my apartment 40 times over and enter. At first, I just see postcard racks and T-shirts with numerous variations of “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.” But along the back wall, I spy hats. Sweet.

After looking at countless baseball caps and cowboy hats, I still haven’t spotted my fedora, when—

“Sir, can you come over here, please?”

The security guard has the whole hat/sunglasses/desert-style-uniform thing you might think the Minutemen wear along the border. I walk over, and he kindly tells me, “Your beverage is not allowed in here.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I say.

“You just have to go out to the sidewalk.”

What a punishment! What a town! “You can’t drink here! You just have to go over there, which isn’t far away!” In my dreams, these are the rules.

We walk for a while longer down the Strip, eventually extinguishing our tallboys, but we happen upon a friendly site: Margaritaville.
"Where's the damn salt?!"

Now, while I love Jimmy Buffett, I must admit that (sorry, Side Bar) H-Squared is by far the biggest Parrothead I know. (He and I once went to Buffett’s annual Today show performance in Rockefeller Center at 5 a.m. At 3:30 that night, he showed up at the bar where I was working with a floral shirt for me, so I poured us a bunch of frozen margaritas in giant plastic cups, which we then drank over the next two hours. It was a good time.) I’ve never been to a Margaritaville, and hey, we’re out of drinks, right?

In case you hadn’t guessed, this restaurant is fantastic. (Obviously) Buffet music plays nonstop, but the bonus is that tonight, the giant screen is playing one of his concerts. And anyone who knows Jimmy Buffett knows that his live music is far superior to the studio-album crap. We sit at the bar and have some margaritas. (Good, but surprisingly not exceptional.)

Out of nowhere, the music stops. Someone on the P.A. orders us to look up. On the second floor, there’s a superhot woman in a bikini. For some reason, she jumps down this big-ass waterslide and lands in a GIANT MARGARITA. Everyone claps. I’m still not sure what the hell is going on, but I clap. I guess that was…cool?

My phone rings. It’s Red Dragon, and he wants to meet up. He’s done golfing (ugh) and wants to start gambling and drinking. Way ahead o’ you, man, at least on the drinking tip. We agree to meet at the Bellagio, which is nearby. So H-Squared and I pay our tab and bounce, passing all sorts of pirate imagery. I nearly buy something, but I don’t because I’m smart. I went to a public school, after all.

The Bellagio is an amazing casino. While many of the places I’d seen so far were stunning, the Bellagio is a step up. Every detail of the architecture, the art on the walls, even the carpets, just oozes class and luxury. I’ve heard that Vegas casinos pump pure oxygen through the vents to get you slightly high, but the Bellagio seems to be pumping that which Ricky Bobby pisses: Excellence.

H-Squared and I tell Red Dragon about the cool new drink: the Harvey Wallbanger. Red Dragon LOVES it. As he and H-Squared sit down to play some Blackjack, he immediately orders one for each of us. This will clearly be our drink for the rest of the weekend. Boss! Since I don’t really gamble (as I’ve said, I have too many vices already, thank you), I decide to walk around. What a place. If you’ve been to Vegas but haven’t visited the Bellagio, make that your first trip next time. It looks and feels like one of the world’s great museums. Your eyes are constantly enthralled at each turn. Even the tiniest details of the molding along the ceiling are meticulously crafted. It is not the cheap, schmaltzy, neon-tinted stereotype of Vegas. It is the polar opposite.

I grab another drink and head back to my boys. H-Squared isn’t playing anymore, and it looks like—yep, Red Dragon just lost his last chip. So we get up and simultaneously realize that, holy shit, we gotta get back to the Palms. We’re going to the hottest club in the city tonight, Pure, and it’s getting near time to leave.

We hop in a cab, during which nothing interesting happens.

Back at the Palms, we wait for the elevator. When it opens, who walks out? Amanda (the married cocktease) and Elisa and their whole bachelorette-party crew. I stop and chat with Amanda for a second, we exchange numbers, and agree to meet up later on that night when we’re both done doing the whole bachelor/ette party thing. For some reason, I think this is a good idea. Fucking women…argh.

We go upstairs, get our party clothes on, and do some pre-gaming in our various rooms. After a bit, our whole crew of about 20 guys heads downstairs. There’s me, H-Squared, Red Dragon, Goliath (the bachelor), JV (the best man), and lots of other people, most of whose names I forgot within two sentences of meeting them. (If, during the duration of this story, one of them does something blog-worthy, they will get a cool nickname. Ah, the honor.)

Pure is located in Caesar’s, one of the more well-known casinos. When we finally arrive, we still have a bit to wait before our appointment, so we head to the casino bar. We have drinks. Harvey Wallbangers, of course.
"Just like what I get my mom for her birthday every year.
But with Vodka!"

JV soon comes by and informs us that it’s time to go.

To get to Pure, you have to exit the casino and walk around a bit to its entrance. And HOLYFUCKINGSHIT are there a lot of people there waiting to get in. It’s not like the typical line outside a club in New York. No, this is a gigantic mob of several hundred drunken idiots converging from all directions on the small opening of velvet rope that two bouncers are guarding.

“How the fuck are we gonna get in?” I wonder. After all, this is Friday night at Pure. Why in the world would they let a group of 20 guys with NO WOMEN (women usually being the key to being allowed into a club, as far as I’ve experienced) in when all these other people are here first? “This ain’t happening,” I say to H-Squared. “We may as well be wearing fur coats trying to get into the PETA awards—”

“You!” someone shouts. “Come on!”

I look up and some enormous black guy who I can only assume is a bouncer has cleared a path for us. (By the way, he is wearing some outstanding sunglasses. I wish I had a pair like that.) Literally, it looks like the Red Sea has parted. And JV is Moses. He smiles and points us in the direction of the entrance. Our group of 20 guys now walks single-file through the mass of idiots around us, escorted by security. JV, in my opinion, is like Hercules—less than a god, but more than a man.

This has never happened to me before, and I can’t help but take advantage of the moment. I look at each and every person I pass who can’t get in and smile the most-mockingest smile I can conjure. Fuck all those pricks. Hey, when the hell else am I gonna have this opportunity to scoff at “people who go to clubs”? Trust me, if you ever have the chance to do this, DO IT. It feels great, and even better afterwards, because you know you weren’t making fun of people less fortunate, you were making fun of douchebags. (To this day, I sometimes jerk off to that feeling.)

After passing through the throng of fuckheads, we finally enter. No one ID’s us. No one asks us any questions. We are simply led. Led through the first floor. Led up the stairs, passing the second level. We finally reach the top and, oh boy.

We have an entire section on the roof to ourselves. Just as we’re all congratulating each other on the astounding view, a couple of Mexican guys (natch) roll out a tray full of all that is good and holy: bottles of tremendous liquor, Red Bulls on ice, fruit juices and mixers, and plenty of ice.

“Here you go,” Paco says. (Paco rules, incidentally. A good man. After a few hours, he and I were hombres.)

Needless to say, we all dive in. I come away with a Stoli and Red Bull, and other people get other stuff, blah.

By the time I’ve had my fifth such drink, we begin to hear rumors that Jessica Simpson is there. Apparently, she’s performing with the Pussycat Dolls at some point. Awesome, I think, and then immediately forget that fact.
"Seven. Minute. Abs."

As I head to the bathroom, I happen upon H-Squared and Red Dragon.

“Dude, we just met Van Pelt, he’s awesome,” H-Squared says.

“Wha…?” I mutter.

“Scott Van Pelt, from SportsCenter. He’s here, we just saw him. We were standing next to him, and I just yelled ‘Hey, Van Pelt!’ and he turned and we said hello and he was cool. Not a dick whatsoever.”

"Cooler than the other side of the pill--damn you,
Stuart Scott and your lazy eye. Boo-ya!"

“After you just yelled out ‘Van Pelt’?”

“Yeah! He shook our hands then walked away. What a guy.”

I finish my piss, reflect on how cool Scott Van Pelt was to placate a couple of drunken idiots screaming “VAN PELT!” and head back upstairs. On the roof, it’s kinda lame. We’re all hammered, yes, but no one’s doing anything stupid and ridiculous, you know? That kind of lame. So, like Robin Williams told me, I seize the day.

I jump on one of the couches, in full view of everyone out there, and begin to do my best attempt at a split. Fairly soon, I’m sitting there, spread-eagle, with my shoes rubbing the two armrests on either side of the couch as I lean back and sip my elevendy-fourth Red Bull-Vodka. I remain in that position for the next hour or so. Or ten minutes, who knows?

So after that, a bunch of things happen. (Editor’s note: Writer blacked out and cannot remember.) As everyone is leaving Caesar’s to go back to the Palms, H-Squared and I decide to stay put. And by stay put, I mean we literally sit down on the asphalt outside some exit. Why, you ask? It’s clearly time to reflect. And we let people know as they pass us.

“What are you doing?” asks some old woman (who just lost her grandson’s inheritance playing the slots).

“Reflecting,” H-Squared says.

“On what?”

“On…our lives,” I answer. She is stupefied by the brilliance of my answer and walks off, shaking her head in amazement.

Some other idiot walks out and asks us the same question, and we give him the same answer. Man, we are changing people’s lives, one at a time. Another guy walks out, looks over, and before he even asks, I yell, “REFLECT! (Pause.) On your life.” He goes home and finally calls his father, whom he hadn’t talked to in 25 years.

Eventually, some guy we talk to is so dumbstruck that he elects to sit down next to us. Which is a bit weird. I’ll call this guy Fucky. Fucky’s about 40, half-bald, and looks like Vegas has taken its toll on him. But he’s really digging our “Reflect” message. So much so that with every sentence, I’m getting more and more creeped out. I just want to tell people to reflect, I don’t want to actually hear about the things on which one might subsequently reflect. But there he sits, describing the wife who left him, the kids he hasn’t seen, the battles with the bottle, the blah blah blah… Go away, please.

Suddenly, H-Squared loudly farts. And it’s like we just discovered how to get into level 8 of Zelda (blow the whistle!), because Fucky gets up and leaves. Though the stench is abhorrent, I’m happy sitting there with just my friend, reflecting, sans creepy weird guy. Oddly, that gets boring. So we get up and leave.

A cab ride back to the Palms later, and we’re back, baby! It’s about 7 a.m. now, and we have no idea what to do, so we go to the bar. And—tell me if you saw this coming—Amanda and Elisa are there. At the same table as the night before. (Have I mentioned that Amanda is both married and a cocktease?)

After a bunch of “Hey!”s and whatnot, we’re all sitting down drinking. I’m still a bit annoyed at the shit I had to deal with the night before, but then again, I’m wasted and talking to a hot chick. So who gives a shit that she’s from Nebraska and married, right? We tell them about the awesome pool that opens fairly soon, and this excites them. We all agree to go upstairs and get our pool shit on, then meet downstairs at the entrance when it opens. I ask them what room they’re staying in, just in case there’s a problem, and it turns out they’re on the floor above us. So they go, and, once again, H-Squared and I finish their drinks. No manners on these girls, I swear.

We get back to our room and put on our swimming attire. “Wait,” I say, just as we’re about to leave. “Let’s get ready.”

“What?” he asks.

“Let’s do some push-ups. That way, our muscles an’ shit’ll be all swelled up, and we’ll look fucking hot.”

H-Squared needs no further convincing. We both hit the floor and start. And as someone once said about Chuck Norris, we weren’t pushing ourselves up, we were pushing the Earth down. Yeah.

Now properly swelled up (and totally fucking hot), we head downstairs. It’s about 9 a.m., just when the pool is opening. We wait for a few minutes, and the girls aren’t there. So we decide to go get them. We hop on the elevator, find their room, and knock on the door. And by “knock,” I mean "bang very loudly." And continue to bang loudly. Eventually, Elisa opens the door and tells us they’re sleeping and will continue to do so, despite the genius plan we had concocted not much earlier (and our push-ups). Bitches.

So, it’s about 9:30. We have no girls to enjoy the pool with (or “fuck”), and it dawns on us that it is now, in fact, Saturday. The Kentucky Derby will be starting shortly. It’s time to get out of these pool clothes, and into our Derby gear. Though I did not acquire the fedora I sought, we both still have some proper Churchill Downs-style apparel to wear.

Oh, and "sleep"? Fuck it. We arrived last night (two nights ago), slept for 90 minutes, partied all day, and now all night. Here we are, the morning of May 5th, going on no sleep at all, but that won’t stop us. There’s an amazing fight to behold, a horse race to bet on, and a town that invites such debauchery.

In fact, the only thing I care about at all is that I still don’t have a nice pair of sunglasses. Let’s go hit the breakfast buffet, figure it all out, then we’ll go and figure it all out.

(To be continued…)

6 comments:

ChuckJerry said...

Great story, as always.

I just wanted to say that we've been blogging the hell out the internet over the last couple days. Keep it up, gies. We'll be Perez Hilton in no time.

ChuckJerry said...

AND FIX THE DAMN PICTURES!!!

Three exclamation marks, bitch.

Walt Clyde Frazier said...

I feel like through your vivid stories, I'm watching some kind of 80s movie where I'm rooting for the protagonist to get laid at the end... for a heroic "climax".

HO YEAH!!!

Keep it up... can't wait to hear how it ends.

Open Bar said...

I don't know what happened to the pictures. I guess I'll try to put them back up. Oops.

Open Bar said...

Okay, pics are back up. Fucking Blogger needs to make positioning your pictures easier. It took me like 5 minutes to get that Van Pelt shot in the right place.

And thanks, Walt. Hopefully there'll be some "serendipity by Open Bar" before long.

ChuckJerry said...

The Pussy Cat Doll all the way on the right looks like a dude.