TBTS (Throwback Thursday Stories): Vegas

Vegas. An infamous Nevadan city that does not need any sort of introduction. If you haven’t been there, you’ve heard of it; if you haven’t heard of it….how?

First off, the term “Vegas” can be used in a multitude of ways.

Examples:

Proper Noun- Let’s go to Vegas.

Adjective- That is so Vegas.

Almost verb- That’s how I do Vegas.

If you are ever in Vegas, you will probably hear, and eventually utilize, all of these.

A few months back, my friends and I went to Vegas.

Now, before you start automatically guessing the end of this story—barf, sex, and a regrettable tattoo—you should probably know that I do Vegas a little differently than most.

(If you’re keeping track, I’ve already used 2 of the 3 aforementioned uses of “Vegas”.)

My friends and I aren’t really the Vegas frequenting type. We’re not huge partiers, so the 4 1/2 hour drive through the desert is never really at the top of our list.

I’ve had friends that are the, “WOOOOHHH VEGAS BABY”, type, and I hold nothing against them. If you can find something that makes you spell “Wooh” with 4 o’s and 3 h’s, you should do it as much as possible.

For me though, a visit here and there is nice. Not WOOOOHHH, but nice.

This past trip was only my second trip without my parents, and my first trip both without them and being of legal drinking age. The last time I went without them, my friends Geri, Alleeson, & I went for a mini weekend getaway. We stayed with Alleeson’s Bubby—her grandmother—who lives in North Las Vegas which is far enough from the strip that it looks like a regular neighborhood, but close enough that taking a day trip to downtown Vegas isn’t an inconvenience. For me, that was the best Vegas had ever been. The other times I had gone, it had always been for my sister’s softball tournaments, and it involved a lot of long days sitting in the sun, and a lot of boring evenings sitting in a smoky hotel room. With Bubby, it was different; she showed us her side of Vegas. The strip, the casinos, Blue Man Group. Bubby spoiled us rotten that weekend, and to this day I am thankful. She made us feel so special.

Packing for this second parentless trip was a little daunting. I was 20 when we went with Bubby and I didn’t have to worry about getting judged for not drinking or partying. At the time, none of my friends had stepped into that world at all, but this weekend was sure to be different, we had all entered the world of alcohol and were quite fond of it, we had just never done it in Vegas.

We were driving up Saturday morning in hopes of avoiding some of the Friday night traffic. If you’ve ever tried to drive to Vegas on a Friday, you’ll know which traffic I’m referring to. To make matters worse, Sunday was the Super Bowl, and we expected the WOOOHH BABY football fans to be coming in by the thousands, so we left Saturday morning at 9.

Lucky for us, the plan worked, we got there in right over 4 1/2 hours. There was no sitting on the desert highway crying or dehydrating or peeing our pants for us.

While spending an hour in line waiting to check into our hotel we took some long hard looks at the crowds going in and out. This is where outfits, hairstyles, and accessory drinks begin to be validated by the phrase, “That is so Vegas”.

A few examples:

-A Man with an 8 inch high mohawk that has been spray painted to match the neon “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign

-Two girls in bedazzled bras holding 2 foot long tubes of what look like pink slushies from 7 Eleven. (They are not, and just in case you are wondering, she’s not drunk, seriously guys she’s not, no one saw those steps coming, it was an honest mistake)

-Also, Barney, the Avengers, and Chewbacca eating subway sandwiches.

That night, after getting a bite to eat, we came back to our hotel to get ready for the main event, Britney Spears!

Defining “we”:

-Me

-Geri, my best friend, nicknames range anywhere between Geristopher and Little Guppy.

-Natallee, my sister, actual name = “Natalee” but I call her Na-Tall-ee

-Kristine, Natallee’s best friend, we call her Teeny.

Our primary reason for this Vegas trip was the Britney Spears concert. It was our gift to Natallee for Christmas. She’s a diehard Britney fan. Upon receiving the gift, she promptly concluded that she had reached the peak of her life. While we were flattered, we also hoped that her assumption was incorrect.

One thing that Vegas will do to you, no matter how hard you try, is release your inhibitions, even if only slightly. There just something about it that makes you feel like you can be different, be a little be crazier, a little bit…more. Then again, there is also a heightened amount of alcohol around you, so your courage is most likely stemming from a very obvious source. Regardless, it’s a good feeling.

Some people take this good feeling to a new level. Their courage, at times, results in an “I’m going to say whatever I’m thinking, regardless of how it might come off” attitude.

Things actually said to me while walking around Vegas:

“Hey Ladieeessss…..HAIL SATAN” –said by man with ponytail

“Whenever you’re ready, we have a superhero sandwich waiting for you” –said by 3 members of the Justice League

“I think you’d like what my web could do to you” –said by Spiderman

“Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” –Chewbacca

My friends and I picked out a vodka called “Loopy” on our way in. We heard that it tasted like Fruit Loops.

A review of “Loopy”

-Smells like Lemon Pledge

-Tastes like Lemon Pledge

(Bright side: if there was any wood paneling in my stomach or esophagus, it was shined to perfection that night.)

We tried mixing it. We tried chilling it. Still hated it. But we nearly finished the bottle…so, go figure.

3 drinks in, I was VERY ready for Britney.  I felt an overwhelmingly NEED to dance, and there was a middle school girl inside of me dying to sing “Baby One More Time” as loud as humanly possible.

Ultimately, that is exactly what happened. Britney delivered like no other. I danced my little heart out.

Small note to the girls behind me: I know that in between dance moves I kept touching the back of my leg. To clear things up, I was wearing tights and after 3 vodka drinks, I was convinced that I had never felt something so soft in my life.

The concert was over at 11 pm and by that time, I was beat. My buzz had worn off, and nothing sounded better to me than curling up in the mostly-likely-stained-with-horrific-stains-but-you-could-never-tell-because-their-bleach-game-is-strong hotel sheets. My friends had other plans however.

“Let’s go out and do something!”

“Let’s go make some friends!”

The two sentences I wanted to hear least in the entire world at 11:30. (I forgot to mention that inside, I’m an 82 year old party pooper.)

My replies to the comments were mostly grunts. I tried to feign a sudden onset of narcolepsy but no one seemed to notice.

“Kim, get your shoes on”

FIIIIINE.

By the time we actually got out into the world, it was 12:30, and the streets of Vegas were very quiet.

The lazy, tired part of me took this stillness as a sign that everyone else in all of Nevada was in bed, comfortable and warm, and I was out here, feet aching, wandering aimlessly. But the rest of me knew that the streets were quiet because people were either packed inside clubs or bars, waiting outside clubs or bars, passed out at black jack tables, or if you were the Spiderman I met earlier, enjoying another Subway sandwich.

As we wandered down the infamous Vegas strip it was kind of beautiful. Vegas at night is like the beach at sunset. That’s when it reaches its prime. The buildings that the daylight hours portrayed as cheap, plastic, knockoffs of historic cities, come alive with lights and music. Even some of the people of Vegas glow at night. (I once saw a man with a glow in the dark septum piercing, true story. From a distance, I thought he was snorting a glow worm.)

We walked with no direction at all, going up and down stairs, in and out of hotels, until we finally decided to call it a night.

Confession: I did not make it back to my hotel room without stopping for munchies. For some reason, I stood in line a shelled out $4.75 for an ice cream sandwich. It was worth it.

At 2 a.m. I got in bed, telling everyone that I planned on sleeping forever. (I got up 2 hours later to go pee and eat Ritz crackers.)

The next morning, we checked out at 11 a.m. and started out on our quest for breakfast.

Waffles, Waffles, Waffles. All I wanted was a pile of waffles.

As we walked I dreamt of these waffles. Would they be soft? Would they be crunchy? Would there be fruit on top?  I didn’t care. I just wanted them In. My. Belly.

Our first attempt at breakfast was a place called, “I’m not going to tell you because the next part of the story insults them and I don’t want to piss anyone off”

We heard that it had a good breakfast spread, and the hotel it was located in was just a few blocks from us. So, we trotted down the street, people watching the whole way.

Vegas patrons on Sunday mornings are far less energetic than their Saturday night counterparts. Guys aren’t yelling things at you, girls aren’t giggling. Overall everyone has a much slower pace, which you can use to your advantage if you’re not suffering from the same hangover. We weaved in and out of people hoping to beat some of the crowd. (We didn’t.)

In our ascent up the escalator we saw the crowd waiting outside the restaurant. We all exchanged a knowing glace. “We can’t wait this long

Natallee took charge, “We might as well ask what the wait time is, just in case it moves really fast”

While Natallee and Teeny walked up to the counter to get the goods on the wait time, Geri and I were approached by a woman. This was not your average 70 year old woman. This was a sunglasses on indoors, I’m going to spend the rest of my afternoon playing slots with a scotch, type of woman. She stopped in front of us, interrupting our conversation, and lightly grabbed onto my arm to get my attention.

“Ladies..” she started.

“Do not eat here. This place rips you off like no other. Those people in there are nothing but dirty crooked bastards. I’ve always been one to graciously pay for what I order, but I did not come here to buy the whole goddamned chicken coup.”

Then she was gone.

Geri and I stood there, mouths open, speechless. Do we say thank you? Do we follow her?

What. Just. Happened?

That is so Vegas.

In the end, we left. The wait time was 2 hours and I was not about to wait that long, only to be greeted by some dirty crooked bastards. We drove down the street to IHOP and as I sat there, waiting for my plate of goodness to arrive, I looked around the table at my friends. Took in each of their faces, taking note of the people we were at that moment.

Then my pancakes came.

I know, I know, I was dreaming about waffles earlier, but I tend to have a wandering eye when it comes to breakfast food. One minute I’m on waffles, another I’m on pancakes, and another I’m full throttle on crepes. There’s not one stich of morning meal monogamy in me. And that’s the way breakfast should be.

Every bite of my whole grain banana pancakes—on which I doused with both strawberry and blueberry syrup—tasted like I was being born again. I ate all three of my pancakes, my hash-browns, my bowl of fruit, and drank 2 glasses of water.

After paying the lovely lady at the register, we walked back out to my car, and started making our way back towards the strip.

A small note about where IHOP was:

Due to the overwhelmingly crowded nature of every breakfast/brunch restaurant on the strip, we had ventured to the outskirts a bit to find this IHOP. Some points of interest near our IHOP include a man standing on the corner taking pictures of the IHOP, a family of six standing the middle of the parking lot pointing at the sky, and a hotel that doesn’t maybe have meth dealers living inside, it 100% houses the top 10 meth dealers in Las Vegas, Nevada.

By the time we were back on the strip it was about 1 pm and we had 2 1/2 hours to kill before the Super Bowl started at 3:30. We perused a few stores, I bought a few T-shirts, Natallee bought a yoga mat, and Teeny bought some underwear. All essential things to have on your person before a football game.

At 3:00 we walked to the closest sports bar we could find, assuming—stupidly—that there would magically be a table, with 4 chairs, in close proximity to a television, waiting for us inside. There wasn’t.

We walked to the next bar we saw. The line wrapped around the casino.

This is when we started to panic. Why didn’t we think this through? HOW DID I NOT FORMULATE A PLAN FOR THIS?

We contemplated hopping in the car and making a quick break for Primm, a city about 40 minutes from us that sits right on the Nevada/California border. We contemplated flirting our way into one of the tables with a group of guys. We contemplated settling for standing room only spots inside of the nearest hotel’s sports book.

Then we had a better idea. Why not try an average restaurant, not known for its bar or sports memorabilia.  A place that people might not think to go to watch the biggest sports event of the year.

I grabbed my phone and dialed up the number.

“Hello, do you by chance have any tables available for 4?”

“Were you looking to watch the game, or just eat?”

“We were hoping to watch the game”

“We do have a few tables left actually, come on over.”

“Oh my gosh! Can I put my name in?”

“I’m sorry we only take walk ins on a first come first serve basis, but if you hurry you can make it”

Time: 3:10

Distance to Destination: 1.1 miles.

With the overwhelming influx of cars, and the complex searching system involved with finding a parking spot, we knew our only option was to go by foot.

So we started walking. Fast.

We weaved in and out of people and waved off a number of guys trying to convince us that they had “exclusive access to the hottest club in Vegas”. How our current looks suggested that we would look good in their clubs, I don’t know. The air was cold so our noses had Rudolph-esque qualities about them, Natallee and Teeny both had minor colds so they were adding snot to the mix, and all of us were panting. I mean maybe the population of snotty, frizzy girls was running low in the clubs these days. Maybe they were just looking to add some diversity and we were the token snot heads. Regardless, we kept walking.

At 3:28 we made it to our destination. A place that screams football and manliness. A place that anyone thinks of when they are looking for a night out with some brewskies. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co: a seafood restaurant chain inspired by the film Forest Gump.

If you haven’t been, go.

The nice man at the door pointed us up a staircase where another employee was waiting. She pointed to a yellow smiley face sticker on the ground. Perhaps it was where the Walmart Roll Back Smiley retired.

“Follow the path of smiley faces,” she said.

Once we reached the 11th and final smiley face, another nice woman informed us that we had 2 choices of tables, one in the back corner and one in the middle. Miraculously, both had a view of not one, but two television sets. We sat down at the table in corner, wiped the sweat off our brows, and let out a communal sigh. We couldn’t believe that we made it, and on time no less.

After getting situated at our kick-ass table, we ordered a round of drinks. They were all pink and orange and yellow and bright. Mine and Teeny’s came in cups that had flashing lights built into the base, which is so Vegas.

 

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