Vegas 2, Pudi 0
LAS VEGAS, NV — Ok, ok, I know I made one too many references to Vegas being a source of free money. Or maybe it was that I was still numb from driving. Or how about just plain impatience? Whatever the reason, I didn’t make any money, so don’t come asking. Well, not exactly true, I DID make about $900, but then gave it all back in a greed-filled, I’m-the-man-and-your-girlfriend-loves- me- inspired display of brazen cockiness. I mean, why play with $5 chips when you can play with $25 chips, right? I will say this, I did well enough for a while to earn my own fat man with large beer cheering section at the blackjack table.
Cheer #1: “Whoa, dude, you are racking up the cash!”
Cheer #2: “Bump it dude, bump it UP! You’re on a roll!”
Cheer #3: “Man, they don’t call it gambling for nothing. Later.”
I also succeeded in playing Texas Hold ‘Em for hours with complete strangers, including an odd game at about 4am ( I couldn’t sleep due to fat man visions) with six pretty darn nice guys. Harrah’s, the casino/hotel where I was staying, had just opened up a poker room, so it was a small money game and they treated folks real nice. In fact, one of the more surprising things about Vegas was how nice everyone actually was. I don’t mean the staff, but the visitors. I had a nice chat with an old fella from the Boston area, a lady from Richmond, Mike, a CPA from Seattle, some guy in the armed forces who had been in Nicaragua in the ’80s (“we took Noriega out of there”), and plenty of others.
I thought that I’d kick the desire to return to Vegas with this trip, particularly if I lost money, but it was just too much fun. Plus, I drove by Lake Mead on the way in, which looked like a cool diversion besides being the largest man-made lake in the U.S. Theose AM stations with info really do work, who knew? There was a checkpoint a few miles on either side of the Hoover Dam, which I assume has been set up based on “credible intelligence” about plots to blow up the dam or mess with the water supply.
The western part of the country is definitely better looking than the eastern side. A little artificial, perhaps, but it was pretty tasty. I’m talking about people, by the way, not desert. Or dessert — haha, word! So now I am a Total Rewards member of Harrah’s, which has casinos all over. Maybe that’ll be worth more than a free buffet or two someday.
If there’s one downside to all this, and I am sure there are many others, the overall consumerism of the U.S. has hit me harder than I expected. Vegas is a lot of bling bling, and the shows themselves, with stand-up comedians I’ve never heard of, and cheap thrills (though next time I NEED a photo with Elvis), just seems so unreal and meaningless if you look at it too long. The mini-marts are uniform from state to state, people line up for just about any diversion possible if you package it the right way, etc. Upside is that it seems impossible to be unemployed in the U.S. Chintzy outfits aside, why couldn’t I be a dealer if I needed to?