Viva Las Vegas - The Intro
I've been home for a full 24 hours and have finally gotten in the essentials I need to begin feeling like a functioning, contributing member of society again. A shower, a snuggle and a good night of sleep have all helped fade the memory of my 2 filth-soaked days in Sin City. The last thing I expected to garner from this experience was any sort of life-lesson or useable information for the future, but in the strangest way, class was in session from even before we stepped off the plane and were told by security that our files would be marked for the future (I'll get into that later or just look for us on a future episode of Airline). On the other hand, if touching down in Newark at 5:45am on a Monday morning, a day and half away from your last shower and at least 3 days away from anything resembling a night of sleep, knowing you have to go straight to the office doesn't teach you anything, then I would say that's a problem. So without further ado, the stories that follow outline my trip to Vegas in multiple parts, as best as I can recall. I guess you could call it my own personal version of It's a Wonderful Life.
Viva Las Vegas - Part 1: The Prep
About 4 days prior to blast off I started having visions of toned, tanned and big-breasted gorgeous beauties lurking in every nook and cranny in Las Vegas. Although I had been
working out twice a day for the last 2 months and was probably in the best shape of my life, my nagging insecurities started popping up and I was determined not to feel inadequate. So it was decided (in my mind) that I absolutely needed a) Hair Extensions - from here-on-in termed "The Weave" and b) a tan. I immediately called up NYC's resident White-Girl-Weave expert and screamed "I Need Hair"! Less than 24 hours later I was walking out of Harlem's Pizazz hair salon feeling like Jessica Simpson / Lindsay Lohan / an Olson twin.
I find it necessary to mention that in order to get to this point of celeb-ness I had to first go to the shadiest "office" in Manhattan and buy myself some weft human hair that was probably shaved off the head of some orphan in an underprivileged country. Secondly, I got to take my first trip to a Harlem salon. This experience definitely lived up to everything I expected and more thanks in part to the crack head who walked in and tried to sell me an industrial strength flash light, because hey, you never know when you might need it and how when she left, the hairdresser told me that the above-mentioned crack head used to be a model. Yeah right.
Regardless of what it took to get there I was on top of the world as I strutted home flipping my new long locks and checking myself out in every reflective surface I passed. Only the next morning, after a work out, a shower and my first attempt to blowdry I started to realize that maybe being unbeWEAVEable wasn't for me. I basically ended up throwing my hair in a big bun because I looked more like I was wearing one of those rasta hats with built-in dred locks than the celebrity impersonator I thought I was the night before. I basically locked myself in my office for the day and frantically emailed my weave-expert friend, Hustle & Flow, who graciously offered to come over that night with her "tools" and take care of it. In the meantime, I figured I'd feel (and look) better if I just got a tan. So after what seemed like the longest 8 hours of my life I headed home and along the way stopped at yet another shady Russian salon where it took 15 minutes of arguing to convince the lady that all I wanted was 1 session of tanning, not an entire make-over and a year's stock of beauty products. I cranked that bed up to 20 minutes and basked in the glow-de-melanoma. I finally made it home and waited for Hustle & Flow to arrive. In less than an hour she had fixed the mess on my head - cut about 6 inches off that too-long weave and instructed me that I was not to get it wet. I felt a lot better about the situation and went to bed ready to conquer the world.
That was until I woke up in the middle of the night in the severe pain thanks to the 3rd degree burns I had apparently inflicted upon myself in this quest for physical perfection. By the time I actually looked at myself in the morning here's what I saw: A Fried Lobster with a Straw Wig. I was beyond sunburned and leaving for Vegas in less than 2 days. I just prayed that it would tone down in time for Friday when we were leaving. Thankfully, it did and I was fairly tan by the time we left, but I vowed to make it my last time ever in a tanning bed.
Only after working and spending to put myself back to where I started, I managed to look as cute as I had hoped when I met Hustle and Flow at Penn Station and we began the long journey. I think this may have been G-d's way of telling me that I'm fine just the way he made me.
Lesson # 1 - Check.
Viva Las Vegas - Part 2: The Plane
Call me a day dreamer, but I had it my head that my flight to Las Vegas was going to be like a ride on a party bus. I just assumed that a 6:00pm flight on a Friday night out to Vegas would be solely occupied by crazed party animals all under the age of 30. Loud Music. Lights. People slamming shots out of tiny bottles of booze and high-fiving each other all over the place. Your average trip on Hooters Airlines. All I can say is Continental doesn't roll like that. However Hustle & Flow, myself, and the dude sitting next to us do.
We lucked out and were seated right behind the poverty-curtain that leads to First Class in the first row of bulkhead seats in coach. We sat down next to Manny and found out he was 26,
from NJ and on his way to bachelor party. Check, check and check! Even better than that,
we found out that homeboy was rollin' in dough and married which basically equaled free drinks for us without even having to try and front like we were the least bit interested.
Good conversation ensued and about 15 minutes after take-off the three of us found ourselves double-fisted and raring to go. We were throwing 'em back 2 at a time and in the time it took me to get up and pee 5 times (yes 5), take about 20 pictures of flight attendants throwing up gang signs, and get everyone's email address we were making our final approach.
I guess one would say we were rowdy, but I at least thought we were being funny. (And so
did one of the flight attendants because he was sneaking us free drinks up until the captain
boomed "Flight attendants, please be seated for take off.") Unfortunately, there was another flight attendant who didn't think we were so hilarious. This was the same flight attendant who had so nicely grabbed my bag for me when I wasn't allowed to stand up before take-off, but now she had definitely had enough of the antics of Hustle & Flow and The Juice and was pursing her lips, shakin' her head, and muttering "Oh no child" as we were screaming "Viva Yo' Mama!".
Then came the last straw. Just as we were walking off the plane and she told us to be quiet and
then turned around, Hustle & Flow thought it'd be funny to give her a smack on that extra large caboose. My reaction was a twisted mess of "Oh Shit" and "That's the Funniest Effing
Thing I've Ever Seen." The flight attendants reaction didn't resemble either of those. I now know what Eddie Murphy was talking about in his stand up when he talked about the fear he felt when he saw look his big black mama would give them right before she smacked him upside the head for doing something wrong.
As it turns out, spanking a flight attendant is a so-call "Federal Offense" and we were told to stay put as the authorities were called. Of course we did the sensible thing and the minute she turned around I whispered, "just go" and we tried to sneak away. At that point, this woman was no longer a flight attendant and had turned into Big Momma Sha Kay Kay. And when Sha Kay Kay tells you to stay put the second time, you listen. Luckily for us, the "authorities" that showed up were a lone, mid-level manager from Continental Airlines. We stood there like two school children while he chastised us, made us promise we'd behave and then told us that our "permanent airline files" (whatever the hell those are) would be noted. Thanks Dad! I guess it rings true that when Mama yells at you, just cry to Daddy and he'll protect you.
We ran down the gangway laughing our asses off and high-fiving each other that we'd almost been arrested within 5 seconds of landing in Vegas. The only thing I learned from this part of the trip were 1) It's not a good idea to spank flight attendants. 2) I can drink more when I am in the presence of Hustle & Flow that I ever thought was humanly possible. She has the same effect on me as the oxygen they pump into the casinos. I guess I knew both of these things already though.
Viva Las Vegas - Part 3: The Party
After grabbing our luggage, meeting up with V, aka: "The Commish" and Mandy "Mandizzle" and getting settled (which included an all out classic college brawl and a few flight changes) we were in a cab on our way to Tao. We chose Tao because our boy Manny had a table there so we figured what better way to party than to continue with the free booze.
When we arrived at the Venetian, drunk and screaming, following the signs to Tao, we were immediately greeted by the first of many packed lobbies, long lines and big dudes with clipboards. I do not know what came over me, but the Juice was in full effect and I had us swept in the VIP, with free drinks courtesy of some 40 year old Czech dude in under 10 minutes. It was on.
There's something about Vegas that makes men want to spend their money on women who make it completely obvious from the first second that as soon as the drink is in her hand the conversation is over. It's almost too easy. I prefer a little bit of a challenge.
Tao was packed with hairy-chested foreigners, gigantic black men and a handful of locals. Thanks to Hustle & Flow and the pink taco shorts we managed to swoop ourselves into somebody's boothand in under ½ an hour I found myself dancing (aka: thrashing my arms and swinging my hair around) on a ledge high above the crowd. I couldn't tell you how long I was up there, but sometime after grabbing the big fake boobs of the RythemLESS nation dancing next to me things went bad.
My first mistake was dropping T's digital camera and watching the button that actually snaps the pictures fly off into the sunset. I would like to send special thanks to the dude who crawled around on the floor with me looking for it to no avail. T's first prediction came true and the camera was broke. Damn.
I can not recall the events between the camera breaking and what ensued next, but something in there led to me being kicked out of Tao. I like to think of it more as being denied re-entry after being escorted through the door by a 6 foot 5 inch, 300 pound male. But who's splitting hairs? I was begging the fifteen individuals charged with guarding the velvet ropes to PUH-lease let me back in because my friends were in there when I figured maybe I should prove just how sober I am. How would I do that? The only answer would be to stumble backward over my own feet then drop my phone and watch it shatter into a thousand pieces. Luckily I wasn't wearing a skirt because I spent the next five minutes scooting around the floor, toboggan-style, like a dog with worms trying to pick up the pieces and put them back together.
Thankfully, around that time my three accomplices showed up and were ready to take me home. V ordered me to have a seat on the fountain and by no means was I to go anywhere. The minute she turned her back I was in a cab on my way to our hotel. Upon arriving at what I thought was my hotel I was quickly challenged with the feat of finding my way to my room 1504. Here's the problem: The hotel I arrived at only had 3 floors. But that couldn't be. I specifically remembered telling the cab driver the Marriott Suites. (Needless to say there's about 15 Marriott's in Vegas). After noting that the elevator only went up to Floor 3, I immediately realized, that DUH, I must be in the wrong elevator (not the wrong hotel) and I'd just have to take the stairs to the 15th floor.
What follows next is my best recollection of sights and sounds before reaching my hotel. There was a stairwell, some heavy doors, a dumpster, a parking garage, a road and some bushes. Then, Viola! I was back in the lobby of the Marriott suites. I'm still laughing when I think back to what happened next. The Marriott had a gift shop which basically consisted of a metal stand in front of the front desk containing cookies and chips. If any of you have ever been beyond inebriated, you know how good that looks at 5am, but in the spirit of having strangers buy all my drinks I had no interest in actually paying for it. I grabbed 3 bags of cookies and 2 bags of chips and began my sprint towards the elevators when I heard "Wait!" I swear to you the girl working the front desk must have leapt straight over it because next thing I knew I was face to face with her trying to use my best basketball moves from high school to fake her out and get around her. She was squatted down low, arms out as if she was coming off a defensive suicide drill when she said, "You have to pay for those!" "Oh, of course, I'm sorry" I replied and it was over. A few hours later I woke up next to Hustle & Flow who was wearing nothing but her undies and a face towel as we lay in a bed of cookie crumbs surrounded by half eaten plates of bacon and eggs. (It was just like college.)
It only gets worse from here….
Viva Las Vegas - Part 4: The Phone
Upon awaking my immediate first thought was to call T and let him know that after almost 24 hours in Vegas with the Destruction Crew I was still in one piece. I flung my arm over to the nightstand and picked up my phone which felt oddly light. Wouldn't you know it, the fcking thing wouldn't turn on. I shook it and pressed the buttons as hard as I could, but it was dead. I pulled out the charger and when I plugged it in nothing happened.
Finally, I turned the damn thing over and could see through the translucent backing that the
battery wasn't in there. SHIT! Frantically I searched my bag over and over again, but nothing. It became sadly apparent that when I was scooting around the floor in the lobby of Tao doggy-style, picking up the pieces, I had missed a very important one. The Battery.
I used the girls' phones to call my boyfriend T and my parents to do the "safety check" and after speaking to the girl at the front desk figured I would head over to the mall where there was a T-Mobile stand and get a new battery. Well, hailing a cab in Vegas isn't so easy and after twenty minutes of the bell-hop trying I finally agreed to pay $10 and split a stretch limo with two 70-year-olds who were heading to the airport.
At this point we had already had two mimosas and were dressed for the pool, so when I actually headed out to the mall I was wearing nothing but a bikini, an uber-short cover-up, and heels. But I figured, hey, it's Vegas, no big deal. Well, when I got to the mall I realized that no matter where you are, going to the mall half-naked is a big deal. I actually heard one snotty-little teenager say to his friend, "She came to the mall to buy some clothes."
With each step I felt more and more like a prostitute and 4 stores later I headed back to the cab stand, with a broken camera and still no battery for my phone. I guess that's what I get for using a phone from 1993 that's made for Asian Teenagers.
Back at the hotel we swam, had a few more drinks and eventually it was 6pm and time to get ready for another night of debauchery. We all headed back up to the room and wouldn't you know it, I picked up my bag and staring me in the face was the tiny, white battery that powers up my little, blinking Nokia. Beyond excited I put her back in a called T professing my joy and undying love. Woooooooooooo!
I think G-d was definitely teaching me a lesson here: Be more careful with your things or I'll humiliate you by making you walk around the mall dressed like a street walker.
Lesson # 2 – Check!
Viva Las Vegas - Part 5: Pure
The plan for the night was to eat a late dinner at Nobu and then head over to Body English to work the VIP tickets we had bought in advanced. (Clearly I'm just trying to drop venue names right now to seem like the scenester I always wished I was.) Anyway, as we were chowing down on the best sushi I've ever had the pleasure of eating in my life when the Kings of California, Devon and Yawn (yes, Yawn) entered the scene. After finishing dinner and exchanging texts with Devon and Yawn we were handed our comps and brought to the front of the line at Body English. Veronica, thinking she had just been handing a lame flier, proceeded to dump both hers and my comp card into the garbage can and had to go dumpster diving to retrieve them so we didn't have to pay the $20 cover. And it was a good thing we didn't because Body English didn't live up to half the hype that Entourage precluded.
It was a lame mix of bachelor and bachelorette parties all taking too much care not to even look at someone of the opposite sex as if they were the slightest bit attractive for fear that their future Mr. or Mrs. might find out they (gasp) spoke to someone that weekend. I'm sorry, but Hustle & Flow and I did not do rock our best Austin Powers girls outfits for this.
Thankfully, we met a loner named Ari and within 5 minutes I was at the bar doing my free shots and drinking my $7 bottle of water thanks to his wallet. Just as I was making my exit the text message from Devon came through saying he and friends had a booth at Pure. SCORE! We thought we had no chance of getting in so we weren't even gonna try, but after a few texts we got the "list name", Kevin Lane, and were headed over. I have never in my life seen a line so ginormous to get into a club. There had to be literally 1500 people in lines twisting every which way in the lobby. Putting on my best runway walk, we strutted over and within 10 minutes the bouncer Tyler was opening up the velvet rope and me and my girls were in cover free. All I can say about Pure is this, I had the time of my f-cking life. Standing on top of those gorgeous white couches, a bottle of goose in my hand, dancing my a$$ off with Enrique Iglesias about 5 feet away, I definitely brought sexy back. Two hours later, sexy was gone and sweaty had replaced it.
Around 3:30 am, I was a sweaty, drunken mess as I stumbled out and made my way into a cab and somehow managed to direct the driver to the correct hotel. During this time period,
not realizing it was 6:30am on the East coast, I decided to call T because I was all by myself and just really wanted to talk to him. I called about 4 times and couldn't get a hold of him. The first few messages I left were sweet as pie. The next 75 were a montage of me declaring "This relationship is now over!" since he couldn't "care" enough to pick up the phone when I'm calling. (Please note the sarcasm here).
Well, I will only say I'm one resourceful beeyotch because I somehow managed after a bunch of calls to 411 and waking up Gregg ( the bachelor who's bachelor party T was attending in Montreal) I was connected to his hotel room in Canada, in half a rage at this point.
Turns out, my phone had accidentally dialed him all through the night so he eventually had to turn it on silent b/c the vibration was waking everybody up. I continued to explain that I just "needed him to be there" when I was all alone and that's why I was so mad. A few hours later, after the maid walking in on me half naked and snoring several times, I realized I'm an idiot.
The solution: Head over to the Hard Rock.
Lesson 3: Breaking up with your boyfriend at 4am because he didn't answer the phone because it was 7am his time is probably unreasonable.
Viva Las Vegas - Part 6: The Pool
It was now 11am and we were 11 short hours away from our flight back to reality. Not having been completely sober since Friday afternoon we figured the best bet would be to hit up
Rehab (the Sunday party at the Hard Rock pool) and keep it going until it was time to head home.
Once again, we were escorted right past the massive line of dudes waiting to get in and upon entering it felt like we were in Disney Land. After 3 massive vodka tonics, a few hours of
dancing like it was MTV Spring Break, and a dip in the pool (which was basically a sea of STDs), Hustle & Flow and I looked at each other and realized we were in the land of trashiness andwanted nothing more than to get home. We cabbed it back to the hotel, scooped up V and Mandy, packed our bags and were headed over to the Bellagio to spend our last few hours with Veronica's new man, The Commish.
During these two hours, I ran into a co-worker and met the dude who had me kicked out of Tao two nights earlier for spilling on him. We started snapping at each other and it was clear that it was time to go. Thankfully the time passed quickly and Brynn and I were two dirty messes on our way to the airport to catch the red eye home.
Viva Las Vegas - Part 7: The Plane Ride Home, The End
Just about the time we arrived at the airport back on the East Coast was when I began contemplating suicide. I was tired, sort of hung-over, dirty, hungry and I knew that the only thing awaiting me was a 5 hour plane ride followed by 8 LONG hours of work. My body was craving nutrients and sustenance at this time and after getting through security I ordered a burger and fries and scarfed that thing down like someone who had been raised in poverty and was eating her first meal. BIG MISTAKE. HUGE.
We boarded the plane and slept the whole ride home, but when I woke up something wasn't right. I had the fiercest burning in my stomach that was so bad I could barely stand up
right. During the 2 hours it took us to get our bags and get the train back to Penn Station it didn't subside and at 7:45am I arrived in my office dirty and sick.
What proceeded was the worst day of my life to date. The only reprieve came around noon when I trucked it over to a salon near my office and had the dreaded weave cut out of my
hair once and for all. As George removed the last track and shook the crumbs out of my hair I nearly jumped out of the chair and hugged him in a joy. The shampoo and blow out that followed was sheer bliss. By the time I got back to the office and grabbed a muffin, I was beyond ready to leave and only thanks to T's phone calls and IMs I actually made it to 5 'o clock (okay, 4:45) and found myself in a cab headed home. What followed was the best shower of my life and the moment I had been waiting for most, a hug from T.
Lesson learned: I'd rather be home.
I don't know what it is about Vegas, but even when you go just to party, and you do nothing wrong like cheat on your wife, drugs, etc, it still makes you feel sort of like a bad person. I spent the next two days after returning home contemplating my life and realizing how happy I was to be back to being a normal, good, productive person who spends most of her evenings getting tasti-d-lite and staying in with her boyfriend. I often reminisce and jokingly call myself lame for no longer being the party animal I was in college and only going "out-on-the-town" maybe once a month because most weekends are spent tending to family obligations, parties, etc. Vegas made me realize that being half-a-homebody isn't so bad. In fact, it's pretty awesome.
Viva Yo' Momma! Viva Las Vegas! Viva my bed and my apartment.