Vegas, May 2005:
In Vegas, everyone enjoys home field advantage, even if they hail from Connecticut. Everything is up for grabs and the rest of it is available for a price. I didn’t bother with the alias you’re supposed to wear once you arrive in Sin City. I went with my real name since the scene of any crime begins with a lie, and so it stood to reason that telling the truth was like hiding in plain sight.
A cross country jet ride is an experiment in the absurdities of time traveling, and no amount of preparation ever seems to emulsify the oil and vinegar composition of jet lag. I dozed in and out as the scenery flickered in piecemeal arrangements; from the dark green steeples of mountain ranges to vast plains which resembled oceans riding along with the top down, and then canyons and then dust, where the terrain can best be described as postcards from Jupiter. It’s a ghostly descent into what feels like the edge of the world, until you spot the flash of apocalyptic neon that lets you know you have arrived at the intersection of Christmas and Hell. Because this is the place Mr. Potter would’ve built if Quentin Tarantino had written It’s a Wonderful Life.
I was one hundred and eighty minutes in the black when my flight touched down at McCarran. I sliced through the slot machine cricket song and shit fashion sense of Sugar Daddies on loan. After checking into my hotel, I grabbed lunch and game planned the next few days: Hoover Dam, Gladys Knight at the Tropicana, the Bellagio Buffet, Gilley’s Honky Tonk, the Guggenheim exhibit of Egyptian antiquities and a dead president parade in honor of Bugsy Siegel. I hate giving my money away to worthwhile pursuits, much less a smarmy looking dealer who’s hopped up on Starbucks and reeks of menthol. But I had given myself a kitschy stipend for the toga party that is new age Rome. No camping out at tables or slots, no getting to know the waitress’s family history. Get in, win or lose twenty bucks and get out. If nothing else, I’d know what it felt like to rob convenience stores for a living.
I tugged on a Marlboro, sipped at my frosty hops and picked on a roast beef sandwich as my mind poured wicked intentions as if sugar on a spinning wheel. Life on the other side of marriage had proven less daunting than I’d feared before my separation. Online dating was a nice supplement to my old school sensibilities, where black books and long time female friends imbued my reconstructive efforts. Vegas would be a celebration of life on the B side, sans the rose garden and white picket fence existence.
A blog isn’t an STD
And in much the same way my eleven years of marriage had flown by as if it had been fitted with rocket boosters, my Vegas jaunt crushed hours into minutes and days into the rear view. Before I could get the cosmic license plate number, I was contemplating my last full day in town. I’d saved Gladys Knight for my going away song, because she was going to make me cry when she lit the fuse on “Midnight Train to Georgia”, and I couldn’t think of a better way to say goodbye.
It was the crack of noon when I arrived poolside with a mimosa in tow. The afterglow of a one night stand was laying siege to my senses as I dialed up the mystery girl. I’d invited her to brunch, in spite of the fact it was an outdated gesture inside the age of hit and run.
We connected in Gilley’s the night before, when our eyes kept running into each other as some clueless young pup in a baseball cap fed her drinks. Until then, I was contenting myself just fine with a steady diet of beer whilst enjoying the mud wrestling contests and bikini clad bartenders. And then the baseball cap went to relieve himself and then I swooped in and bought her next round- Absolut and Red Bull- and when our verbs began moving horizontally, we followed.
The girl wasn’t the least bit interested in getting anything more substantial than the hustle and flow of a Vegas tryst. I respected the hell out of her game, which never would’ve culminated in a score if she hadn’t been packing the Trojans this discount Romeo had somehow left off his checklist. All that and she saved me the brunch tab.
I ordered another mimosa and contemplated whether I wanted to eat something or just nap by the pool when my phone chimed to life. It was Dan, my sometimes pal ever since he married my former jogging partner Emie. Me and Dan were polar opposites who shared an affinity for beer, and that’s really all that matters.
“It’s like the garden inside Hunter S. Thompson’s head,” I replied.
“I’m afraid to ask,” Dan laughs.
“Oh yeah, and that jazz about dry heat is bullshit. It’s a fucking industrial microwave is what it is, which is why you have to be soaking in a pool or an adult beverage at all times. And really . . you should be doing both,”
“Hey, I’d like to get together when you’re back in town and toss around some ideas I’ve got about a blog,” Dan said.
“What’s a blog?”
“It’s a website where you write whatever the fuck you feel like writing and people comment on it. You read their shit and comment back, it’s kind of like a community of storytellers,” He explained.
“And you’re asking me what?”
“To write with me,”
“How much is this blog?”
“Free is good,”
“I’m surprised you never heard of blogging before,” Dan said.
“Dude, if a woman told me she had a blog, I’d be getting tested. That’s how much I know about a blog,”
“So you interested?” Dan asked.
“I don’t know, you do your research and as long as it keeps coming back free . . then maybe,” I said reluctantly.
“Did you get married for the hell of it?” Dan laughed.
“Because downsizing the hell out of my shit after one marriage wasn’t enough? Nah . . you know who gets married for fun? Psychos, that’s who. And there’s the whole I’m still legally married detail to consider. And oh yeah . . even amicable divorces ask for shit you didn’t know you even fucking had. So umm, no Chachi. But hey! I did bump into Andie MacDowell at Mandalay Bay and I’m pretty sure I’m pregnant now,”
“Dinner when we get back, on me. I want you to be in on this with me,” Dan said.
“You buying dinner means you really want me,” I laughed.
“I’m serious about this. Come on dude, what’s the worst that could happen?” Dan replied.
Famous last words.