I’m about to say something that won’t shock you at all: I play by the rules. Always.
I follow the speed limit. I arrive on time. We don’t fudge on our taxes, and we rock the vote each November. I don’t smoke, I hardly drink, I don’t share my friends’ secrets. If I could remember to change my car’s oil every 3,000 miles, I would.
But when something like Las Vegas comes along, all bets are off. Go big or go broke or go home. Shrug off your Sandra Dee, put on your Mae West, and viva Las Vegas like you mean it.
For my 17th 36×37 assignment, that’s exactly what Kim, Mason, GB and I did. For three days, we lived as large as we could, and it was absolutely brilliant.
Find the High Rollers.
We knew exactly where The Bellagio‘s high roller room was, but when we pushed our way through its gilded doors, the floor was empty. The only thing remaining was an open bottle of very expensive Cabernet Sauvignon, and we weren’t about to load up on someone’s leftovers.
Instead, we settled for playing pai gow with a little red-headed man and his fistful of $10,000 chips. We knew he meant business when he slid one across the table and opened with two $200 hands. Five minutes later, he walked away again, with a cool net gain of $3,000.
Win big (or go broke trying).
- Roulette. Kim took a class on game theory when we were in college and learned that roulette stacks the odds against you more than any other game in the casino. I think that’s funny now, because I watched her leave the table with a larger stack of chips than when she started. I, on the other hand, lost every chip I had.
- Slots. I pulled the lever just once and said “What a stupid little game.” I kept thinking that and thinking that until some half-crazed woman shrieked “Look at what I won!!!” then hugged an uncomfortable stranger. Luck, be a lady tonight, I guess.
- Blackjack. If you missed it, read about my love/hate relationship with blackjack.
- Craps. Just when I decided the casinos weren’t for me, I tried my hand at this lovely game. As it turns out, I love the dice, and the dice love me, and together we know how to make money.
My stubby little fingers look so pretty, even if Javier was nowhere to be found.
See the sights.
Like Caesar’s and Paris and The Venetian. Fine hotels, each one.
Still, none of them could match The Bellagio.
Eat like a queen.
We tried the buffet, because that’s just part of the Vegas experience. It was big on selection and low on flavor, so we took the rest of our meals elsewhere.
On Sunday night, we tried Mario Batali’s B&B Ristorante in The Venetian, where GB ordered a pasta blackened with squid ink, Mason ordered the most incredible pork chop in the world, and Kim and I had pappardelle with a bolognese that nearly rivaled my mother’s exquisite version.
On Monday, we broke bread at Voodoo Lounge from the 50th floor of The Rio. We watched the sunset from the rooftop, and spent the rest of the evening laughing over good food and great company.
Enjoy the show.
We caught Penn & Teller at the Rio Hotel. I slept through most of it because wine makes me snoozy. However I can say that Penn talks a lot and Teller doesn’t talk at all, and there was a clever bit about coins turning into fish and fish turning into coins. That is all.
See someone famous.
We spotted Pete Rose at some sports memorabilia shop in Caesar’s Palace. I thought that was so ironic—Pete Rose! In Vegas!—until a colleague said she saw him at the same store when she was in Sin City. So I guess it’s all just a big joke, with Pete laughing the hardest.
But that’s not all. Kim and Mason stayed in Vegas an extra day. On Wednesday morning, I woke up to this text:
I’ve been laughing about that one for days.
Finally, enjoy thyself without a hint of guilt.
But, ah. That part was easy.
In November, it will be 15 years since Kim introduced me to GB. The life I live today comes largely from that one well-timed and generous act of putting two friends together and then taking a quiet step back. I didn’t know the day I met her how important she would be to me. And I never would have guessed that we’d one day meet up in some glitzy, gaudy, wild city with two remarkable fellas and have an absolute ball together.
It’s funny how friendship works. I really can’t explain it. But I’ll tell you what, Kimmy—I’m just so grateful for you.
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