Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Vegas, baby!

We had occasion to go to Las Vegas last week so DH could receive a professional honor. Which was lovely for him, and also we figured we'd stay an extra day and explore a bit. Because I've never been to Vegas, and everything I know about it I learned from "Swingers" and "The Hangover." Always double down on 11, and stay away from Mike Tyson's tiger.

I hadn't actually been on a plane in nine years, since we moved back to NJ from Florida, and things hadn't changed much. You still take your shoes off. People still overstuff the overhead bins. It's still incredibly awkward to use the tray table for eating, especially if you're trying not to dump overpriced airplane food all over your laptop. And you still walk out of the airport feeling like you just ran a marathon (and finished last), even though all you did was sit down for five hours.

Vegas is ... interesting. It has that Florida palm-trees-everywhere sort of vibe, but the buildings aren't pink and I didn't see any random lizards scurrying about. Though granted, January. It was midweek so the streets were pretty quiet -- just random vacationers, and also Elvis wearing a backpack. I assume he was heading to work. I wanted to renew our vows in front of an Elvis, but DH tells me this is cliche. Other sightings: Darth Vader, Hello Kitty and Homer Simpson. Largely they were panhandling.

The casinos are impressively huge, and you could wander one for weeks and never leave. Because the food is fantastic and there are shops and shows and oh yeah, gambling, and why would you need to leave, really? My one disappointment is that the Cirque Beatles show wasn't performing the days we were there. I love the Beatles. I wasn't even alive early enough to see them in concert but I love them. I've been singing "Yellow Submarine" and "All Together Now" to the kids since they were born. So seeing the show would have been nice. I discovered, however, that the casino also had a whole boutique full of Beatles merchandise, so that was fun. A Yellow Submarine-shaped Christmas ornament is sitting on my desk now.

I've never seen so many vices jammed together so enticingly in one place. Slot machines in the airport. Celebrity chef restaurants every half-block. Walk-up outdoor margarita bars. Even an outdoor hookah lounge. Shopping shopping shopping. Oh, and the sex. Rolling billboards announcing "GIRLS Direct to You!" drove down the street roughly every two minutes. Guys stationed on street corners handed out cards for this peep show or that peep show. Some of the guys, in fact, tried to snake their hand around me to hand a card to DH. I considered grabbing the cards myself, maybe collecting a whole set, but decided all the plastic surgery on display would depress me too much.

I wondered aloud to DH how we would have explained all the, um, cleavage to kiddo, had we brought the kids with us. (They were safely home with Grandma.) "Oh, the lady on the truck, sweetie? People call her for a ... playdate. Why is she naked? Because they take a bath on the playdate." Still, we kept seeing people pushing strollers around, or holding a small child's hand as they walked through the casino, so I guess "family-friendly" is in the eye of the beholder.

We did discover some culture in the form of a Da Vinci exhibit. Pretty nicely put together. There were models of a few of his flying machines, and another section offered in-depth analysis of the Mona Lisa. Also there was a large touch-screen monitor with a chess game set up on it. Aggravatingly, I lost my queen early and never quite recovered. That's right: In a city full of people playing slots, I was playing chess.

So, probably not the city for me. Wow was the food good, though. And considering how rarely we get to dress up and go out to a nice restaurant, I think the five-hour flight was a perfectly acceptable trade-off.

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