I was intensely focused. I was at the tail’s end of Ender’s Shadow (a compelling read) and wanted to punch it home. But I felt something- of extraneous force pounding away. Annoyed, I reluctantly tore my eyes off the book and looked up. Bobby’s prim face appeared in the front, he seemed to be excited and his fist finally stopped pounding the poor Corrolla’s (or Leaning Tower) ceiling. “We are here! Las Vegas!” The ingurgitation was such that I hadn’t noticed that we were, indeed, rolling into the heart of Sin City. Suddenly, I was afraid.
One of the first stores that chanced upon my eyes was a bond one. Apparently it was some kind of a store that gives out cash to bail out people from the jail with “lowest interest in Las Vegas!” I wondered, what have we gotten ourselves into? Our trip thus far was an odyssey in the natural world…we felt one and secure with trees, canyons, rivers, and animals (even insects). We were now thrust into a whole different world, and our wallets were no longer safe. Here, all of the indulgences of our human race were whetted and sharpened.
There were so many casinos sprinkled on the Strip, so many that we had trouble picking one. We finally ambled ourselves into the Luxor, a faux looking pyramid. The urge to gamble was instantaneous, I made a beeline straight to a sports betting section and placed a 50 bucks bet on the Miami and Boston (game six) and Scott (the connoisseur) quickly cashed in 100 bucks on a blackjack game.
On a side note, we cannot help but to marvel at the greatness of innovation on the designers’ part in casinos. Everything is engineered or made it so in a way to make people splurge their money. For example, we noted that there was a walking escalator GOING in the casino but none going out. What purpose would that serve? Imagine a guy losing 400 bucks to the game of Blackjack. Pissed, he walks out of the Casino…he knows that he cannot spend any more (he promised his wife that 400 is the limit) but boy, the walk out is sure a long one. He continues walking and thinking about the bets that he had hedged wrong, the lucky 21’s on dealer’s part….The enticement is too strong to resist…he turns around and loses another 400.
Or how the lights illuminate the playing tables. There is a subtle glow, golden one- like the pot of gold at the Rainbow’s end. Your eyes cannot help but to be drawn to the table and its cards. The cards’ number and suit give off a special glow akin to the glow on pregnant women’s skin. You start thinking about the 20’s in your wallet- how they suddenly felt expendable. You start rationalizing things, how the 20’s were not supposed to be there anyway! Before you know it, you are sitting at the table and smiling.
The air! Scott claims (the connoisseur, remember?) that casinos have a special machine where they vent air and keeps it flowing in order to keep people awake. Did you ever see anyone yawning in the casino? What about when the pungent smell of the cigarettes come across your nose, along with the consumption of alcohol (free, if you play!)- it all just feels right. The stars have aligned for you, all you have to do is let the 3 witches that weave the fates of world take over.
Fate is woven. Scott loses his 100 bucks, and then goes for another ten. I later dove headlong into the fray and lost 60 bucks. I was fortunate enough to win the basketball bet ($45). Bobby proved to be the smart one, betting nothing and losing nothing. Maybe these architects need to study people like Bobby and figure out how to get him gambling. (Personally, I believe they’ve got no hope…such is Bobby’s formidable willpower)
The Three Witches snigger over our forthcoming destitution, of that I’ve got no doubt. However, one of them (name’s Helga) felt genuinely bad and appeased other two to give us a sprinkling of hope. It came in a form of free alcohol vouchers. The line to check in Luxor’s rooms were so bad, stretching as far back as eye can see, zigzagging through different betting games, slot machines, restaurants, bars, and so forth. A foul up on Luxor’s part, and to placate the growing agitation among the line, vouchers were given. On the voucher, it says- A free drink. Us, being the clever geniuses, would act like we were standing in the line and then request for a voucher (I think I mastered the technique of showing a vexed face, as if I were standing for a while). We would take turns, and in the end, we enjoyed around 15 tickets. We have to thank Helga for that, and we reeled out of the casino, blinked in surprise at the sunlight.
Lucky for us, there were some deaf people in town. Gallaudet friends! We met and caught up. The night was spent in a deaf corner, and it was spent well. Helga, however, decided that she has given us enough and left us. The drinks cost 17 bucks apiece. That led Danny Markowski to quip the comment that sums it all up, “In order to truly enjoy Las Vegas, you need to have a 10k ready to spend with.” We definitely didn’t have 10k to toy around with, and with our wallets thinning, prudently careened out of Las Vegas Boulevard.
Into the sanctuary of the wild.