Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Viva Las Vegas, pt. 1

Last Wednesday, with a song in my heart, I tossed my suitcase into my trunk and headed off to the Van Nuys flyaway station. It was finally time for my Vegas vacation, and I was looking forward to enjoying the company of my friend Susan, her boyfriend Gunny, and Spock, my dear friend of approximately 23 years. I was also anxious to get away from the hot, smoky air of Southern California.

It’s a sad day indeed when you have to go to VEGAS to get some fucking fresh air.

Anyway, by the time I braved morning rush hour traffic, got on the bus, and disembarked at LAX, the song in my heart had turned to a dirge. It took me literally three times as long to get to the airport as it did to actually fly to Vegas, and I was pretty cranky by the time I finally boarded the plane. But it seemed like mere seconds after I’d settled into my seat and cracked open my book that we were landing, and as I gleefully grabbed my suitcase from the overhead, I was feeling perky again.

I took a taxi to Excalibur, where I would be indulging in my Renaissance princess fantasies for the next three nights. It wasn’t my first choice, but it was the cheapest place on the Strip that wasn’t a total shithole, and I had splurged on one of the newer rooms, which was probably a smart investment. My room was pretty nice, with a minimum of kastle kitsch, and had a pillowtop mattress, plasma TV, and nice view of the pool.

But there was no time for starin’ out the window! I had things to do and people to see. I hung up my clothes, used the can, and slathered myself from head to toe with SPF 70 sunscreen. I called Susan to arrange a meeting time and place after our respective Cirque du Soleil shows, and then I walked to Caesar’s Palace in search of Vosges, the chic chocolate store that had the audacity---the glorious, wonderful audacity---to put bacon in a chocolate bar.

I accidentally walked by the store the first time, because I thought it was a jewelry store! But when a quick look at the directory made my error obvious, I doubled back and walked into a scented heaven of truffles, chocolate bars, and cookies, displayed behind glass like precious gems. I located the famous bacon bar, but I had promised Susan that I wouldn’t try it without her, so I abstained. I did buy the box of Aztec hot chocolate C had requested, as well as a hot chocolate sampler for myself and a scoop of Naga ice cream. It was flavored with sweet Indian curry and coconut flakes and was absolutely delicious; the cold of the ice cream was followed by the warmth of the curry, and it was truly a lovely combination. I sat on a bench and ate while talking to Spock on the phone, and we agreed to meet up later on in the evening.

On my way back to the Excalibur, I walked past several of those people who get paid to hold out flyers and cards for various escort services. One of the few porn peddlers who spoke English said to me, as I refused to take the card, “Aw, come on, baby, can’t say you ain’t curious!” I laughed but continued on my way.

By the time I reached my hotel room, my feet and legs were killing me. I took a quick shower, changed into a nice outfit, and grudgingly pulled on my black knee-high go-go boots. I limped to New York, New York---fortunately just across the street---and stood in line for Zumanity (link NSFW), Cirque du Soleil’s “adult” show. While waiting to be seated, I realized that I shouldn’t have bothered; for every person who’d dressed up, there were at least 10 who were wearing shorts or jeans. Ah well.

The show was pretty good, for the most part. There was a contortionist, a half-naked ballerina en pointe, an utterly fierce black woman doing an amazing tribal-style dance, a comedy duo, male and female strippers, and a drag queen MC, among other things. There was also a really weird bondage act that was followed by golf claps from the befuddled audience. I wouldn’t say the show was worth the hefty price tag, but it was fun, and I enjoyed myself.

Afterwards, I hobbled back to my room, changed clothes, and met up with Susan in front of the lion habitat at the MGM Grand. We squealed and hugged, and then she introduced me to Gunny. We chatted and watched the lion trainers flicking meat against the glass for the lions to eat, and then we went to the lobby and met up with Spock.

Further squealing and hugging ensued.

We all walked down to Smith & Wollensky for a late dinner. I had a mediocre $40 steak, but Spock let me share his coconut cake (a full pound, according to the menu), which made up for it. Gunny sent back his ice cold crabcakes, prompting Susan to say, “That’s goin’ through somebody’s mail slot before it comes back here.” We enjoyed a great conversation, and after walking down the Strip and stopping to do a little gambling here and there, we parted ways for the night. I stripped down, washed my face, brushed my teeth, and flung myself onto the mattress, where I promptly fell asleep.

To be continued…