This is where I stayed on my weekend trip to Las Vegas:
It’s called the Mandalay Bay and it’s not so much a hotel as it is a vast empire of money, boobs, $10 beers, flashing lights, and silly electronic noises. I stayed in the hotel on the left, which is simply and hip-ly called The Hotel, in a suite that had two bathrooms, three TVs (including one in the main bathroom), a giant bed, climate control in both rooms, a minibar with pricey Pringles and spendy Snickers, and all sorts of little fancy trimbles* that I assume it’s OK to take home with me and so that’s what I did, like shampoos and conditioners and pens. Only since it’s so fancy, the bottles are labeled “body balm,” “hair cleanser,” and “hair masque,” and so I can only hope I used the correct one for the correct purpose. The various parts of The Hotel follow the same name scheme, including The Restaurant, The Café, and even The TP, on a little sticker on the toilet paper in the bathroom. In Jessica’s dad Steve’s room there was a bottle of Jack Daniels in the wet bar that, if opened, would have set him back a cool $250.
*[So I thought “trimbles” meant assorted little odd items, but it turns out the only dictionary definition is David Trimble, a Northen Irish politician who won a Nobel Prize. What word was I thinking of? Trivets? Trinkets? Triscuits?]
Other things that cost a lot of money: everything all the time everywhere. I knew what I was getting into, to a certain extent, but still, the prices for food and drink and entertainment in general were somewhat shocking to me. Beers at bars and restaurants on the Strip were generally upwards of $8 and $9, a shot could be in the $13 range, a bottle of Sky Vodka in a club was $250, a simple two-egg breakfast with potatoes, two little bacon strips, and burnt toast with warm coffee was $25. Admittance to a top-optional swimming pool was $100/head, which was not something I particularly wanted to spend, so instead I spent some time at the regular pool, which was free. And I didn’t wear a top anyway! Jessica’s brother Tom was also struck with sticker shock and felt the need to point out with some regularity that this shot of Southern Comfort was the same price of an entire bottle over at Safeway. I tried to tell him that saying that would only make him feel worse about it, but in the end I think it was a sort of catharsis for him and so I joined him in his misery.
In any case, I was there for Jessica’s brother Sam’s bachelor party, along with Tom, Steve, and a few of Sam’s friends who are mostly former baseball players like he is. I was pretty bummed to learn that the Sacramento River Cats, the Oakland A’s AAA affiliate, were in town to play the Las Vegas 51s, and that the guys were all going on Saturdday night. It also turns out that some of them know Chris Carter, who just happens to be the A’s next great slugger, waiting patiently in AAA until GM Billy Beane beckons him forth with his white, bony, bare-knuckled finger. The rest of the dudes went to see Carter win the game with a two-run home run while I sped home on a small US Airways plane next to a woman who said she loved her job (working at a casino) but hated living in Vegas, which didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but she kept her elbows to herself and busied herself with Sudoku and thus was a good row-mate.
At one point on Friday night, Sam and I were strolling around the casino, half-looking for a bathroom, having a drunken bro-talk, when he turned to me and said slurringly, “I’m only gonna say this once but if you break my sister’s heart I will beat you up. I know you’re not gonna but I had I to say it. I’m her brother.”
So I took that in, thought about it, and said, “OK – but if she breaks my heart, then I get to beat you up.”
He reflected for a moment, then said: “deal.” We clinked our 24oz Bud Lites together and continued on our way.
All in all, it was a great trip. I bonded with the Walker Boys, drank a lot, spent a lot, and felt like even more a part of the Walker/Magee family than I do now. I had some quality time with Steve, who is going to be a really excellent father-in-law and clearly will be a kick-ass grandfather when the time comes. Sam and Tom are also going to be great brothers-in-law, and will be the first brothers of any kind I’ve ever had, which is pretty cool. I can’t really imagine having my bachelor party in Vegas, but in a lot of ways it’s the perfect place for one and it’s not surprising that there are so many of them there. Part of the appeal of Vegas is that the entire place is designed for two things: (1) to drain you of as much money as possible as quickly as possible and (2) to provide people with a refuge where actions don’t necessarily have real-world consequences, forgiveness and forgetness are encouraged, and the bubble that is the Strip is never popped. You can stay safely inside the bubble for the duration of your stay, and participate and observe as much as you want to.
And 24 hours was probably about all I could take anyway.