March 16, 2004

Viva Las Vegas

That my bachelor party was held five months before my wedding caused no small amount of confusion for just about everyone my friends and I met in Las Vegas. Dealers, waiters, fellow gamblers and others enjoying their time in Sin City all had the same bewildered looks on their faces when I answered their questions about when my wedding was happening. "What? Not 'til the summer? Why are you guys here," asked one dealer. Most people I spoke to envisioned a bachelor party as one final blow-out before the big day and therefore couldn't get a handle on why a group of seven guys came to celebrate their friend's bachelor party a full season before the wedding.

It even started on the plane, where even the flight attendants couldn't resist the "ball and chain" jokes. "You're getting married?" asked a young woman as she served me my microwaved snack. "I'm sorry." It was a comment I'd hear numerous times over the weekend, each person thinking they were the first to tell it to me.

We practiced Blackjack basic strategy during the flight, so much so that we could have opened our own airborne casino, albeit one that did not collect money. Every person who passed us on their way to the back of the plane offered their advice on our dealt hands. "Hit that, buddy." "Ooh, you're still gonna want to hit that sixteen." The energy on the plane was infectuous as visions of plastic chips danced in our heads.


Some of that energy carried over into our time at the tables, as a good number of my friends were ahead during the first part of the weekend. Although, typical of gambling, fortunes changed quickly. After losing a significant amount during a particularly long run, my friend Spot (all names have been changed to protect the innocent) announced that he had found a way to beat the casinos. "All I have to do is drink fifteen hundred dollars worth of alcohol."

There's only a three hour time difference between New York and Las Vegas, but despite this fact, we never really adjusted to the new time zone. In most situations, if you landed in a western time zone you would push yourself to stay up a few hours later just to get on track. But instead of adjusting to Pacific Standard Time, we adjusted to Las Vegas Standard Time, which is located somewhere just outside the Twilight Zone. It involves staying up until the wee hours of the morning and then waking up barely five hours later, ready to hit the tables again in hope of a big win.

On Friday we tore ourselves away from the casinos and headed to the Hilton Hotel for the Star Trek Experience. The ride was fun, although my friends, a few of whom are single, wrote their own imaginary tour book entry for the attraction: "Not a good place to meet women."

After attempting to take a nap, I was given simple instructions by my friends. Meet downstairs in the lobby at eight o'clock, dressed nicely for dinner and a night out. When I went down to meet everyone, we went outside where a limo driver stood holding a sign that said "Gordon." Now, Gordon is a fairly common name, but I had caught up on sleep enough to figure out that my friends had a great evening in store for me. The eight of us piled into the limo and made our way to our first stop, In-N-Out Burger. We must have been quite a sight, with our black limo pulled up next to the retro-style fast food joint, wolfing down burgers, fries and shakes under the glow of a neon sign.

From there it was on to

[SECTION REMOVED BY SPOAR (Society for the Protection of Adult Reputations)]

and then I headed up to the hotel room and went to bed.


Some of us spent Saturday afternoon by the pool. It was a welcome respite, not only from the din of the casino, but from the winter back home in New York. Now two days removed from reality, Pike, Marlie and I sat in the hot sun and wondered why on earth anyone would choose to deal with temperatures in the teens and freezing precipitation.

But I kept reminding myself that Las Vegas is not reality. Back home I wouldn't eat at Nobu if I had accidentally lost my wallet on the street on my way to the restaurant. But in Vegas, I would gladly do that even if I had lost two hundred dollars before dinner. (I didn't. In fact, I won two hundred bucks before dinner and then lost it at the Blackjack tables at the Hard Rock before winning it back again at the Luxor.)

The next morning the entire group had our last meal together, the $9.99 Pharaoh's Pheast breakfast buffet at the Luxor. Remembering an old Vegas axiom, I reminded my friend Ray, "It's not all you should eat, it's all you can eat." Greasy food and bottomless cups of coffee sated our alcohol soaked stomachs.

After saying goodbye to our Boston-bound companions, the New Yorkers among us headed back to the Hard Rock to finish out our trip. My luck increased exponentially, as I pulled myself away from the table fifteen minutes before having to leave for the airport with an extra four hundred bucks in my pocket. I realized I hadn't bought a present for L yet, so I went to the gift shop and found confirmed what I already suspected. There isn't much to buy in Las Vegas besides, well, crap. I opted for a magnet for the sole reason of getting to hear L say, "You won four hundred dollars and all you got me was a magnet?"

We headed to the airport and, after a one hour delay, we were headed back to New York. As if extending our trip by seven hours, our cab driver demanded an extra twenty dollars over the agreed fare from our Brooklyn-based crew after reaching our first stop in Park Slope. Had the driver been upfront about what he wanted at the start of our ride, we might have felt generous enough to just give it to him. At least in Vegas you know you're going to be taken before you sit down. Still, I'll take New York, NY over New York-New York any day.

I returned later that night and, sure enough, L and I joked about the magnet. For as much fun as I had, it was great to be back home with her again. She even finished all the thank you notes from the showers and had sent most of them out while I was gone.

Posted by The Groom at March 16, 2004 11:15 AM

Ah yes, Spot, Pike, Marlie, and Ray. How I love them so. . . Glad you and the boys had a good time.

Posted by: the other L at March 16, 2004 04:37 PM

sounds like a lot of fun. i'm picking a place for my bach. party soon so i might email you for suggestions for my five pals

Posted by: alex at March 16, 2004 05:48 PM

You went to Sapphire, didn't you?? ;)

Posted by: E from Michigan at March 17, 2004 09:34 AM

Instead of being upset about it only being a magnet, you could have been really excited and said you decided to start your own magnet collection in the shape of the US like we do!!! The only problem is fitting in magnets from other countries, they don't always fit in in order, but it's fun to have something to buy at the airport from every trip.

Posted by: MOB at March 17, 2004 09:42 AM