There’s this Vegas.
And then there’s my Vegas.
The other night, I was sitting at a roulette table with Hank, Fariq and Jamal. Hank was a 62 year old casino dealer; Fariq and Jamal were drunk first-time rouletters.
I sat down because I overheard Fariq telling Hank that they’d never played roulette before. I thought that for once, I’d be the Vegas veteran at the table, the card shark, the PRO.
So I sat down and I flipped Benjamin out like it was a Washington. My confidence was sky high.
We get our chips. Fariq turns to me and asks me what to do.
“Well, you take your chips and put them on a bunch of numbers. If the ball lands on your number, you win money.”
It looked like he understood what I was saying, but he took all of his chips and put it on one number.
“Well, you know, you kind of want to spread out your chips because it’s really unlikely to land on your number.”
“You see man, my uncle said 17.”
“Stupid,” I say in my head. I smile as I carefully place my chips in strategic spots across the board. Not 17 though.
I look at Fariq and he has no idea what’s going on. He asked me what happened.
“You just won $700.”
He turns to Jamal. “Strip club!”
He collects his chips and leaves with Jamal.
This is precisely what I hate about Vegas. Just because there’s gambling and there’s booze and there’s strip clubs, doesn’t give you the green light to act like a bunch of guidos.
But the truly frustrating thing is that these grease monkeys win all the money, get into all the clubs and end up with the pole dancers from the Pussycat lounge. It’s all backwards.
I thought women were supposed to hate men who objectify them. Then why do I see every fake-tanned Dane Cook douchebag man-boob trolling around Vegas with a tramp-stamping Paris Hilton slut bunny draped all over his arm?
And guys like me…guys who would use that money to buy something useful like…oh, I don’t know…a winter jacket…Guys like us get left out in the cold.
It’s all backwards. Vegas is all backwards.
But maybe…maybe its not backwards at all. I look around and take stock of the room. Guidos, slimy Europeans, oversexed college frat boys, drunk rednecks, and unfaithful husbands have descended on Vegas like a swarm of locusts. They’re there to win money so they can waste it on drinks and whores. Women for their part dress up like strippers and act offended if men stare at the goods.
I begin to wonder if we are just simply slaves to our nature. If alien researchers came to Vegas and studied human behavior, would they get an accurate sample of the basest human nature? When you strip away all social conventions and rules, is this what you ultimately get? The strangest mating patterns in the whole of the animal kingdom?
In this way, Vegas is beautiful. Perhaps not backwards, but the most accurate proxy we have to magnify the dross that’s inside.
This was my thinking as I sat there alone at the roulette table. Absently I kept putting my chips in, only to have Hank take all my money.
So to review. While Fariq and Jamal were busy throwing their $700 at Chastity Vasquez, I was giving MY money to 62-year old, wrinkly Hank. I’m wearing a T-shirt from the Gap, Sketcher shoes, and a gold chain given to me by my mom…all while musing over the corruptibility of mankind atop my Judeo-Christian soapbox.
Between Vegas and myself, it turns out that I’m the backwards one after all.