Really? Last chance to go take a lap before we get this cookin' with gas.
Ok... So the last trip to Vegas was just over the top and ridiculous, and frankly the bar was set obscenely high. This trip did not live up to its predecessor, but like any respectable Vegas trip was still a pretty damn good time... Especially considering that we are in a recession, and the lifestyle experienced during this trip is not something experienced by 99% of folks even during the best of times.
First off, please let me say, that given my personal budgetary constraints, this trip is one of those magical events that takes years of careful planning. From my perspective, it is never taken lightly and critical decision making processes are crucial.
Let's begin with a little backstory so you know how all of this works:
I have a wealthy cousin who regularly entertains clients in Vegas, the combination of his wealth and regular visits to Vegas with clients means that when he deems me worthy of the table scraps of what he considers a throw-away Vegas weekend, I know going in that it is going to be one of those few rare rockstar-style events in my life. (I should note that not all of the cousins in the family get those throw-away weekends of VIP awesomeness, I get it because I am awesome, hilarious, and intelligent enough to keep the wit coming even after we're several drinks in... Also because I am untethered by a spouse or children, and I have friends who have a similar lifestyle and mindset.)
So the last time we went to Sin City, I had no idea what I was in for. I had no concept of what this trip entailed, or how incredible it would be. I was simply told, "Hey, you want to go to Vegas? Grab a fun friend. Touch base with me to pick a weekend. You and your friend will need to purchase your airfare and either be on the same flight as I am, or land before me, because once I get there, this show is getting on the road."
I did exactly as I was told. I grabbed the one friend who I knew would be up for anything, my bestie since college, The Admiral, and we got it all set up. --Now there are many reasons that The Admiral is my best friend, and these are coincidentally are some of the same reasons that I knew she was going to be the perfect selection for this new adventure... For starters, the girl is smart, but not just in a bookish way. She is book smart, witty, quick as a whip, and socially aware. She is adaptable and generally ready for anything, because like me, she usually has to plan for the worst case scenario. Also, girl can party. There was no question that she was going to be an all-around, homerun-hitting all-star on this trip. NONE. But that first trip was more than three years ago... She now has a husband and a child, so she was not as readily available this time around.
We got there, we had an over-the-top obscenely good time. We rode around the strip in limousines, we shopped, we gambled, we ate gourmet meals, we drank with reckless abandon, we lounged by the pool, we were massaged by masters of the trade, we danced, we laughed until we cried, and then we got up and did it all over again the next day. And again the day after that... And when it came time to rejoin reality, we became indignant at the idea of having to wait in line at the airport because we'd had VIP access to everything and that level of treatment goes to your head remarkably fast.
Knowing the intense awesomeness of what had transpired, when my cousin asked me if I was ready to go back I leaped at the opportunity and began sorting through suitable travel companions to make this trip as awesome as the first... It was a remarkably short list, made ever shorter by friends who neglected to call me back to take me up on the offer, or declined on the basis that they were in relationships and were uncomfortable going on a trip to the city of sin that was bankrolled by a man that they weren't dating. That list was dwindling to a tiny little handful of elite candidates. Those candidates were carefully vetted on multiple salient criteria until only one remained.
It was a girl that I had worked with during my poorly-chronicled adventures in the Deep South. She was adorable and sweet, but with an unconventional wild streak, and she had gotten divorced from her douche nozzle husband only a few months ago, so by my calculations she was pretty much fully primed for a wild weekend in Vegas. I gave her the primer for this trip, telling her that copious amounts of alcohol were the status quo, so if she wasn't already drinking regularly to get her liver ready for the abuse it was about to take, she needed to train up. I told her to bring clothes suitable for running around in the casinos during the day, and hot party clothes for gourmet dinners and ass-shakin' in the clubs at night. I recounted detailed stories of the previous Vegas trip so she would know what to expect... And I told her in no uncertain terms that there were certainly expectations that needed to be met. She agreed to come in hot and heavy and ready for action. (I should note that the expectations were pretty low. Drink like a fish, flirt harmlessly with the guy footing the bill, and have a great time living like a rockstar.)
... And then we got down to the day before the trip.
I touched base with her to make sure she was really ready, and gauging her excitement level from our phone conversation, she seemed to be chomping at the bit. She was packed and ready to catch her plane and meet us in Vegas.
So I drove to the airport to meet up with my cousin. Our flight was canceled so we were bumped to the next direct flight. In addition to giving me a feeling of impending doom, this delay gave us a few hours to kill and we were arriving a couple hours later than initially planned, but in the grand scheme of things it was a minor adjustment. Her flight went off as scheduled, so she was going to be waiting for us to arrive for about an hour and a half... A really small sacrifice in the grand scheme of things when you know what this weekend really entails. So during our downtime, I gave my cousin the basics on my friend. So far so good.
So we caught our later flight, and sat behind a bachelorette party of girls who thought they belonged on some reality show about spoiled housewives who complain about how horrible their lives of leisure really are... There was an obnoxious dude who hung out in the aisle hitting on all of them during the whole flight while mentioning his 4 children. Basically, the guy had no game, and no chance, but he was trying anyway and while I would've been really annoyed under other circumstances, I was headed to Vegas, and nothing was going to rain on my parade.
We landed, collected our luggage, I found my friend, made introductions, and we found our limo driver who was already waiting for us. Everybody was all smiles and ready for action.
We arrived at our fancy hotel, and checked into the penthouse suite. Keep in mind that this is probably a $2000 a night suite in a brand new NINE BILLION dollar hotel and casino. This is one of those ridiculously posh rooms that you see on travel channel shows featuring the best of the best. The curtains, the TVs, the lighting, the temperature, the sound systems, hell... even housekeeping and other hotel services were all controllable from a little bedside touch panel. And that's not mentioning the fabulous appointments of the bathrooms, or the actual beds. (During the trip, I think I actually described the bed as being like, "...sleeping on a cloud, while being softly serenaded by choirs of sweet cherubs, as unicorns frolic in the meadows..." (Yeah, it was that good... But we've got a lot of ground to cover, so enough about the room and the beds!)
So we quickly changed clothes and went down to dinner at an Asian-fusion restaurant in the hotel. We had a couple of mojitos, and dined with a little friendly getting-to-know-you chatter, with me as a helpful facilitator during any lulls in the conversation, and everything was proceeding exactly as it should.
And then we went out to one of the ridiculously-long-line-ridden hot nightclubs of the moment, where we were rapidly escorted directly around the long line to the VIP area for bottle service and the royal treatment... This is roughly where things started to go off the rails a little bit.
We were seated in a great little VIP nook with two other tables, and initially we were the only VIPs in this particular little section in the otherwise packed club, but that wasn't to last. We got situated with our table, our cursory alcohol in obscene quantities for a three person party, and we chatted a bit while techno-heavy club music pounded around us. The club was already pretty full considering we had gotten such a late start, but since we were alone in the VIP nook so far, we had personal security escorts to the ladies room which my friend needed to use roughly every 10 minutes, much to my annoyance, since she seemed incapable of going alone even with the benefit of the security escort... But again, I tried not to be too put out, because it was her first time there, and her first night, and after all, I was in Vegas, what was an extra trip or two to the restroom when everything else was so awesome.
Throughout the night, the trips to the restroom got a little ridiculous though, seeing as my friend was scarcely drinking at all, meanwhile my cousin and I were both knocking back drinks and doing the shots placed in front of us like we were had just spent a week lost in the Mojave. Of course, as far as my friend was concerned, she was nursing her one drink like she could only get grey goose on war ration coupons and any time there was a shot put in front of her, she not-so-subtly dumped it into the cocktail she had barely put a dent in and proceeded to ignore the task of consuming it like it was her job. (Really, that was her only job during this trip... Drink like a fish and flirt a little bit with the guy who is footing the bill. That's it, and neither one was done.) It should further be noted that she wasn't abstaining because she doesn't drink, I've seen this girl put it away and need to be carried home... She just wasn't drinking.
My cousin tried to loosen things up by periodically throwing bottle-service chocolates at us, aiming either for our mouths or cleavage, (aim was debatable). And that provided a few laughs, as did the giant electronic glow sticks that were distributed into the crowd by the club staff... And the rest of our laughs came at the expense of the other two parties who were seated on either side of us now in our little nook.
To the left was a group of about 7 twenty-something European men who had NO GAME WHATSOEVER, (more on that in a moment,) and to the right was a group of roughly 5 standard American douches who CLEARLY were in over their heads financially when it came to the commitment involved with being in VIP. (This was indicated by lower-level alcohol selections on their table, the fact that they tore through them, and then sat with a dry table, periodically passing out on the bench seating, before stiffing the waitress... And the fact that at one point they actually told my cousin that they were strapped for cash just to get the table and tried begging him to keep them supplied with alcohol.) The European contingent tried using the VIP seating to their advantage, as is customary for a grouping of men in VIP... So they lured in a bevvy of hoochies and club rats with the promise of a free drink. They danced with the girls and apparently within about 15 minutes of hooking them in, directly asked for blowjobs and other sexual favors... Not even the Vegas club rats were falling for that nonsense, so the ladies cycled in and out fairly rapidly with their free drinks and that put a rather sizable dent in their limited table service supply, so they were out fairly quickly as well. (I should note that at some point during all of this, it was noted in our conversation over the thumping club music that it takes genuine effort to get arrested in Vegas... For real. You have to try hard to end up being arrested... This isn't so important now, but it becomes important later.)
After they were through, a gentleman in early fifties and his twenty-something companion in a sequined getup were seated in their place... They alternated between sucking face, and her intensely ignoring him while perusing the club, presumably for more age-appropriate companionship. But by the time they were seated, we were winding our party down. My cousin and I were drunk and my friend had done little more than make unnecessary bathroom runs watch the ice in her drink melt, so I assume she was still sober.
We headed back up to the suite with our glow sticks and our inebriation and called it a night. I had a long steam in my fancy shower, and crawled into the cloud bed to sleep it off until morning.
Saturday morning rolled around, and I was a little hungover, but not unbearably so... and after a fantastic room-service breakfast in the cloud bed, we decided to do a little shopping since my friend, (henceforth to be known as the wet blanket,) determined that the clothes she brought were not sufficient for the level of party we had going on... This despite my directly telling her what she needed to bring. So we dressed, got in a limo, and headed out to the forum shops at Cesar's Palace to see what we could find. She spent more money than she wanted to (and she wasn't shy about letting me know it) on a dress and shoes that were club-appropriate, --a completely avoidable expense if she had bothered to listen to me when I had told her in advance what she needed to pack... Once that was done, we met up with my cousin for a late lunch at KGB where I had what was probably the single most delicious burger I've ever had, even though I could only eat half of it. We walked around on the strip for a little bit, so that the wet blanket could get a feel for the real grit of the Vegas strip. (I was hoping that this might inspire a little gratitude by showing her just how good we really had it on this trip... As compared to a trip spent playing the nickel slots eating bad 4.99 rib-eye at the cheapest all you can eat buffet we can find, while constantly having flyers for hookers and a free lapdance at the Spearmint Rhino thrust at us from all directions as we walk to and from a tiny single room at a Holiday Inn... You know, just for the sake of argument.)
So we got back to the hotel, put away our shopping bags and started planning our evening and had a quick little nap. Dinner was to be at Shibuya at the MGM Grand. (Keep in mind, the EPIC trip to Vegas we had the last time, we stayed at the MGM, and the casino host who handles my cousin for the MGM took a shine to me, so any venture over to the MGM meant we would be seeing said casino host, who still has the hots for me.) Dinner consisted of a 7 course gourmet sushi and Kobe beef tasting menu that was just insanely good... I would try to explain it course by course, but it was all just melt in your mouth little bites of heaven that defy description.
After dinner, we went to Studio 54 and were seated in an odd little setup in the VIP section that was away from all of the other tables and right ON the dance floor and roped off from the rest of the public. (Trust me when I tell you, this was not what I would consider an ideal setup when dealing with the dance-floor-going public of Las Vegas, Nevada... But I wasn't the one sponsoring this shindig, so far be it from me to complain.) So we were dancing, my cousin and I were drinking, and the wet blanket was continuing her ridiculous sobriety challenge in typical wet blanket fashion.
Being that we were only separated from the main dance floor by a thin black rope on three sides, we had people pretty consistently leaning over trying to get the invite to sit with us and have a drink. I was repeatedly approached by the same skeezy creeper and I continually gave him the brush off, (not because I felt superior at all, but because he gave me the creeps and again, I wasn't paying for this shindig, so it wasn't my place to go inviting people in). The guy tried me repeatedly, tried the wet blanket a couple times, and even tried to get in good with my cousin, perhaps hoping for a male-bonding moment. Fortunately, my cousin wasn't buying into that creeper's creepiness either, so he took to kind of dancing off to one side hoping another opportunity to get in would present itself. So we kept dancing and drinking, and the wet blanket danced a little in the outfit that she had spent too much on earlier in the day, and continued avoiding consuming much alcohol at all... (Seriously, if I'd had a baby bottle, I'd have just poured her drink in with no qualms whatsoever.)
So while my attention is focused on the non-drinking efforts of the wet blanket, I see that my cousin is in something off an across-the-VIP-rope-tussle with creepy guy and what seems to be creepy guy's friend. In a surprising turn of events my cousin went into super-alpha-dog-if-someone-doesn't-stop-me-I'm-gonna-rip-your-face-off-mode... (It should be noted that while my cousin has what I would categorize as a large and colorful personality that occasionally rubs some people the wrong way, the vast majority of the time, he is a very mild mannered guy. He is not one to get into fights or start up drama that is unnecessary. He keeps his cool better than I do, and I'm not known to fly off the handle without REALLY significant provocation.)
Seeing as we were in VIP, our account of the events apparently carried more credence with the club security who was on the scene in no time flat and promptly put creepy guy's friend in cuffs and escorted him out of the club with no questions asked... Or at least that's how it seemed from my side of the table...
I had no clue what had just happened... We went from zero to 6 security guards in no time flat and within a couple of minutes we were back to enjoying ourselves and the two creepers were gone, so I carried on, completely unconcerned with what had just transpired.
(For the sake of continuity, I will go ahead and tell you now what happened, even though I didn't get all the facts for another 24 hours)
Apparently the creepy guy and his friend were trying to get into VIP by chatting up my cousin, and he was being fairly cordial until the creepy guy's friend (Creeper #2) decided to make a statement that upped the ante, so to speak. Apparently Creeper #2 decided to tell my cousin, "I'm going to fuck your friend." To which my cousin replied, "Oh, really, which one? Because I haven't seen either of them talking to you." And Creeper #2 pointed to me and said, "Her, and it doesn't matter that we haven't talked... I'm still going to fuck her."
So now we know why my cousin went all alpha dog and didn't tell me until WAY after the fact. He was being all protective of me, and didn't want me to worry because he wanted me to enjoy my evening. (While the rape threat is certainly concerning, the protectiveness and concern for my enjoyment of the night out certainly gave me a big ol' case of the AWWWWWWs!)
So after more ridiculous dancing and drinking for my cousin and I, and more mysterious non-drinking from the wet blanket, we pretty much closed down the club and then headed back to our hotel to crash for the night.
The next morning my cousin and I were pretty hung over, and so room service breakfast was really all we could muster the energy for... He went back to bed, and proceeded to spend his Sunday betting on the NFL games from bed. Meanwhile, the wet blanket and I went in search of souvenirs for all the suckers back home. We were gone for most of the day, but upon our return, I was not surprised to see my cousin still in bed, nursing that hangover and streaming two games to his computer with another 2 games on the TV. We chatted for a bit, he mentioned that he had a 90-minute "man facial" down at the spa later, and that we should plan on dinner after that.
So the wet blanket and I got a quick nap in, cousin got his "man facial" at the spa, and we got ready for another night out.
We headed out to Julian Serrano for a dinner of assorted exquisite tapas and the second best mojito I've ever had. Over dinner we discussed the plan for the rest of the evening. My cousin informed me that we were going to make a quick trip to a club which signified how the wet blanket felt about him... So we headed off to "-5" which is a club constructed entirely out of ice. (He and I thought it was quite funny... The wet blanket didn't seem too fond of the joke.) So we get to -5 and are instructed to check our shoes and evening bags, and suit up in big boots, gloves, huge fur coats, and we were given souvenir "trapper-style" hats to keep our ears warm. And then we went into this strangely small "club" where there was music playing, a bar made of ice where a bartender took our orders from a limited selection of over-sweetened drinks which were served in glasses made of ice... While we waited on our drinks, we were told to go ahead and have a look around at the rest of the place, which consisted of several ice sculptures, walls of ice that were lit from within, and, an ice luge for shooters if we were so inclined, and several seating areas all constructed from ice. It was neat, and it made for some really cool pictures, but it was clearly not someplace where anyone not on staff was intended to spend a large chunk of time... It was really more of a novelty bar than one designed to get you in and keep you there and spending money.
We took a few pictures, drank our overly sweet drinks and moved on.
At that point we went to the Cosmopolitan and did a little gambling at the blackjack tables. It would seem that luck was not with us, as we proceeded to watch our dealer turn more 20s and 21s than I ever would've believed possible. Shortly thereafter, my cousin left us to play the slots for about 45 minutes while he tried his luck in the high-roller section. After which time we regrouped and he sent the wet blanket and I off to the hotel while he sorted something out with his casino host at the Cosmopolitan, noting it shouldn't be long and we would decide what to do when he got back.
So the wet blanket and I took a cab back to our hotel... which was really within walking distance, but seeing as it required crossing several lanes of Vegas weekend traffic, we took a cab. The cabbie was pissed because apparently he had been waiting in the cab line for something like 20 minutes and since we weren't going far, we weren't going to be a big fare for him, so he audibly groused for the approximately 3 minutes we were in his cab. As we got out and I paid the fare, I told him he'd have gotten a real tip if he hadn't complained about doing his job, but since he made such a production of his displeasure, I was only giving him a minimal tip by rounding up to the nearest dollar. I probably didn't teach him a lesson, but at least he knows he cost himself a real tip (which would have been double the fare).
So the wet blanket and I are back at our hotel. She proceeds to go to bed because she's a wet blanket, and that's what we blankets do. I stayed up because my cousin was only about 30-45 minutes behind us and I was under the impression that we still had further plans... And had the wet blanket held out, we did, but since she went to bed early, when my cousin got back and he said he'd have felt bad about leaving her alone in the room, he and I just sat up and chatted for a while. (It was at this point he informed me about the tussle in the club the previous night.) We reminisced about how much more fun we'd had with The Admiral when she'd come along on the last trip. I repeatedly apologized for the Wet Blanket and he told me he would give me a mulligan on this one, and while there is still the possibility of future trips, a repeat of this shit show better not happen again... And since we weren't going anywhere with the wet blanket in bed for the night, we both decided to just call it a night so we would be minimally fresh for flights out the next day. He had an early flight, while the wet blanket and I were on afternoon flights. He left in the morning without a word, and after another room service breakfast, some gambling on the slots at the Aria, and packing our bags, the Wet Blanket and I checked out and headed to the airport.
Incidentally, the Wet Blanket and I were on separate flights about 30 minutes apart with a layover in Chicago. She asked the airline worker at the counter if it would be possible to put us both on the same flight but her flight was full so she wanted me to ask the same about my flight when I got to the counter. I told her I would, but I totally didn't because I admit to some seething irritation on my part, and frankly at that point I was ready to be rid of her... It didn't matter anyway. I was soon to learn that I was on a full flight as well, and that it was to be the worst flight I've ever taken... (And before you ask, it wasn't bad in the "Oh my god, this flight is going down, we're all going to die!" kind of way... Get ready for this.)
So after a long weekend of living it up like a rockstar in Vegas, (with my seething irritation for the Wet Blanket in tow,) I admit that I was tired and a three hour flight from the rockstar lifestyle back to reality was going to be less than awesome just on principle.
While boarding, the airline staff announced that the flight was going to be 100% full. Naturally, I figured since there was no chance of landing in a seat with an empty seat next to me, I figured I might as well just find a seat relatively close to the front of the plane where I would be able to get off the plane in a reasonable amount of time, and preferably not sit next to somebody who was going to drool on me, or talk my ear off, or otherwise be a bother... So I found a row occupied by what appeared to be a bitchy Jersey girl in yoga pants, with hair as fake as her busted up Louis Vuitton bag. Judging by the fact that she hadn't moved said bag into any kind of storage, rather than the seat next to her, she seemed more interested in her magazine than listening to the announcement that the flight would be full. Ok, so she's going to keep to herself... Good enough. I asked politely if the seat was open, already knowing the answer... But she was being every bit as bitchy as I pegged her to be, and trying to make a stink about having to put her fake-ass bag under the seat in front of her. But at least I had a seat pretty close to the front, and would be able to sleep during the flight... Or so I thought.
WRONG.So about 5 minutes later, as boarding continued, some random couple asked her if she would move to the row in front of her so they could sit together. She pitched a fit for a few seconds and then moved. Since I was on the aisle, I had to move so she could move and they could get in, which made no sense at all, whatever...Ok, so now I'm sitting next to this random couple... WHATEVER. The couple gets situated, I sit back down, boarding continues, etc.
As the boarding line wraps up, some random businessman with an enormous carry-on bag full of what I assume to be very important files, a computer, some gold bricks, and maybe a Prius, saunters onto the plane and decides that even though there are no seats in my immediate area, he has to hoist this gigantic carry-on into the bin over the row in front of me. But maybe the balance and alignment on that Prius were all wonky because he lost his grip on the bag mid-way through stuffing it into the bin, and ended up dropping it directly on my head... And while I did suffer a blow to the head, I did recall the audible gasp from my fellow passengers as the Prius-laden bag tumbled onto me, and I do recall all the other folks asking me if I was all right, while the douche nozzle that dropped the damn thing just tapped my shoulder, said, "Oh, you're fine," before a second wobbly attempt at hoisting the bag, and then meandering down the aisle to wherever an available seat was located.
So I had boarded the plane just wanting to snooze, now my head is killing me, and every EMT school dropout on board thought they should give me a concussion exam before allowing me to have a nap. So that chews up the first 30-45 minutes of the taxi and flight. Once all of the other passengers in the seats around me were sufficiently convinced I didn't have any diagnosable concussion symptoms or brain hemorrhages, they left me alone. A short while later, I'm guessing about 15-20 minutes later, I finally fell asleep... Only to have that slumber interrupted when a flight attendant dropped a whole box of those little bags of peanuts in my lap. DAMMIT.
So, again I try to get a little nap in... Only now the random couple sitting next to me has decided to whip out the portable DVD player and a comedy flick, and proceeded to cackle obnoxiously at random intervals. Eventually, (I'm guessing about an hour in to their movie,) either the comedy fizzled, or I just got better at tuning it out because I was able to doze a little bit... Until the turbulence kicked in. So then I was awake again... With little hope of sleeping as there is continual jostling, I fruitlessly tried anyway.
Once the turbulence died down, there was about an hour left in the flight, and I finally dozed off one more time. (But don't worry, it didn't last!)
So I guess to signal the start of the final hour in flight, another flight attendant begins to tour the aisle with a tray of coffee. (The more perceptive readers out there can already see where this is going.)
I don't know if the flight attendant merely stumbled, or if there was an air pocket, or what, but as I am just sitting in my seat with my eyes closed, and suddenly there is hot coffee all over my lap and running down my leg... GOOD LORD.
"Oh, did I get you?"
"Uhh, yeah... A bit." (Please note this was DRIPPING with sarcasm, as it was abundantly clear that she had "gotten me")
"Oh sorry. I'll bring you something."
"Here is a towel... it just has sparkling water on it, but that should do it, right?"
"Whatever, fine... I can't catch a break on this flight anyway."
"What do you mean?"
"All I wanted was a nap, and all I've gotten was a giant bag dropped on my head, a box of peanuts in my lap, a whole lot of turbulence, and now hot coffee all over me."
"Oh. Well, um, sorry."
So the last 30 minutes or so of the flight was unremarkable, so nobody had to die, but of course, once we landed my fellow passengers thought it would be fun to razz me about how awful my experience was as we all waited to deplane.
"Heh heh, bet you can't wait to get off of here..."
"Yeah I hope nobody else drops another bag on you... Since they've put the coffee away."
"Man, you're hilarious."
Seriously, what ever happened to human compassion? When you see someone is already having a really hard time of it, it is considered kind of rude to give them a hard time over what a hard time they are having... Seems a little like kicking a man when he's down... But like I said at the outset, WORST. FLIGHT. EVER.