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"Where in the Hell Have You Been?", or "The Awakening"

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by PHU-KNA, Nov 21, 2007.

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  1. PHU-KNA

    PHU-KNA Tourist

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2007
    Messages:
    24
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    9

    My Trip Report

    "Where in the Hell Have You Been?", or "The Awakening"

    This is the final installment of my retrospective series of trip reports to the greatest city on earth. I have several other illegal, excuse me, undocumented excursions, but I think I would need to secure the services of a hypnotist to pry the details from the darkest, most hazy reaches of my now spotty memory.

    This one is going to suck. Sorry. I should wait, and give this trip its due with a properly thought-out and written account. Especially since it is so momentous, in that it restarted it all. However, with the clock ticking down to less than a week on another trip, I need the fix of writing this. Besides, having two to write is far too daunting.

    This trip took place in 2003, and without further ado:

    "I'm an idiot". No. That doesn't quite cut it. "I am the dumbest, stupidest motherf#$$$%$%#$%er to ever walk the face of the earth". No, even profanity doesn't do it justice. "I am the mental equivalent of Paris Hilton". Hmmmm, tearing celebrities down doesn't even bring with it the usual charm. "Let’s just say that I won't be joining Mimi Rogers at the next Mensa meeting".

    I spoke these words to my friend J in the cafeteria. J had come to my place of employment for the usual cup of coffee, and he had a proposition for me (not that kind. keep in mind we aren't in Vegas yet). J is somewhat of a firearm's aficionado, and a longtime member of the gun culture. I try and live this lifestyle myself, but lack the bankroll due to having to feed and clothe my children. Well, J informs me that he is going to be taking some firearms training at an establishment of which he is a member. One four day long class costs about $1,800, but he can get me in for free. Then we will hit Vegas for a night or two. Sounds great, right? Shoot guns in the desert for 4 days, and then head to Vegas for drunken jackassery (coined by J) the likes of which no one has seen since a bachelor party - also an all-to-distant memory.

    That is where the idiot part comes in. You see, not 10 minutes before meeting J, I booked a trip to Las Vegas for a conference. The problem? I had a massive, momentary lapse of reason. I had forgotten (after almost 10 years) how incredible Vegas was. Lost were the memories of how, simply put, living the Vegas fantasy some how gave me back my mojo; something I didn't know I had lost to begin with. Let's go Freud on this a little further, shall we?

    I had a wife, a daughter, and another ankle biter on the way. I had convinced myself that I was a family man, respectable, responsible. I had convinced myself that to be happy within the realm of my new life, I had to forget about my bachelor days. Being a drunk, immature, reckless dipsh$t was not something that I would entertain anymore. There was no place in my new life for this sort of thing. But I later learned (long after this trip) that Vegas would serve a special purpose in my life. It did, oddly enough, fit into this new life of mine.

    Disaster (this is a flash-forward several years)

    Sitting at my desk at work one morning, about 7:00 AM, my phone rings. I see on the caller ID that it is my wife. I have obviously left my gym bag or lunch by the back door. "Are you sitting down?..................."

    My father had suffered a massive stroke. I spent the better part of two weeks in the hospital at my father's side. The stroke was so massive he barely survived. He spent a week in the ICU, a week in a telemetry unit, 2 weeks in a transitional care unit, and a month in a rehabilitation unit. While this was going on, his sister (my aunt) died. A little less than one week after that, his mother died in a room not a stone's throw from his. I sat next to her bed, watching her die for over 36 hours.

    What made all of this harder, is that I was somewhat alone. My already small family was plagued with premature deaths. My two siblings lived half way across the country. Suffice it to say, I had a very heavy burden on my shoulders. While holding down a 60 hour a week job, being a father, husband, and caretaker for my father, and now Executor and Personal Representative of my Grandmother's estate, I was Atlas, and I was ready to shrug.

    My father had remarried (widowed), and although she was getting up in years, I was able to share the burden of my father with his wife. She set the example by informing me that she had to have a break, and that her sisters had convinced her to take a long weekend away. Shocked at first, I supported her need, at least outwardly. Then a friend suggested to my wife and I that we needed the very same thing, a break from it all. So they invited us along to Vegas with them for the final weekend of the NFR. It didn't work out, but we did find merit in the idea, and booked the following weekend with another couple.

    How does all of this depressing garbage relate to Vegas? A question that undoubtedly you are asking yourself. Right? Well, I realized something on this short trip; Vegas is the ultimate adult fantasy. For the period of 3 days and 3 nights, I was someone else. For very little money, I bought someone else's identity. I wasn't some average Joe, with an average job. I didn't have 2 recent family deaths and a seriously disabled father at home who couldn't even eat, let alone walk or talk. I didn't have 100's of hours of work closing an estate, and days watching my father's rehab. No, I was Phu-Kna. Bubba.

    All that glitters is the stage. Bright lights, neon, billion dollar resorts. Free drinks, bellmen, limos, clinking, clanging, "How can I be of service, sir". $5 steaks. $100 BJ. Fountains, light shows, the greatest landmarks. Money, everywhere............................It is all here, FOR ME. It's all there to make me forget, even for a day or two. They are all props in the most perfectly orchestrated show ever conceived by man. You aren't a loser. You don't have responsibilities. You aren't 50(Huh, neither am I)! You're rich, beautiful, 21 years old, and all of this is for you. (Yes, I know it is all there, for me, to separate me from my money).

    ......and, we're back, and on to explaining why I am so stupid. Remember?

    When I booked the trip, I only thought momentarily about tacking an extra day or two on. The conference started Monday, and I was going down Sunday. Stupid. Isn’t hindsight something? Unable to change my flight without significant penalty, J and I made plans to meet up in Vegas once his training was done. Oddly enough, right about the time I was to arrive.

    IMPORTANT NOTE- This is the third trip in a row to Vegas, on someone else's nickel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Landing at McCarran, I still wasn't giddy. I grabbed my bag, and headed for the shuttle. Just another business trip. Our route took us down the strip, something I hadn't seen in 10 years. It was finally starting to hit me a little. We passed the Aladdin, Monte Carlo, and then stopped at Paris, all new to me. Wow! I wonder what my hotel is going to be like. Then we headed up the drive to the Bellagio. (Yep. I was staying at the Big B, and someone else picked up the tab.) I stepped off the bus, and there were people everywhere. Hotel staff were tripping over each other to help me with my bags, to welcome me to the Bellagio. "bugger off, you tip hungry leaches". I had one bag, and wasn't tipping, twice, for someone else to take it to my room.

    Finally, out of the crowd emerges J. With his arm extended, he hands me an ice-cold Corona. Perfect. He is noticeably irritated, so I ask him how long he has been waiting for me. "About $40". Huh? He informs me that is how much he spent on the 6 or so beers that he consumed while awaiting my arrival. Being handed the ice-cold beer aside, I figured I had this whole thing pegged, and the stage was set. Going to another conference and getting stuck at a super ritzy, over-the-top expensive resort where my daily per diem wouldn't buy me a cup of coffee. Terrific. It's going to cost me $10 in tips to get through the front door. I have about $100 spending money in my pocket.

    Making our way into the reception area, my mood changes slightly. Hmmm. No one holding the door open for me with one hand, and the other hand out for a tip. Good start. Then I see the ceiling, and the floor, and the conservatory. Holy sheet! I do not belong here. Up at the registration desk, I am met with a genuine smile, and a "Welcome to the Bellagio, Sir". After being informed that I was only being charged $200 for a normally $400 room (yeah, right), we set off to try and find the elevators after receiving directions that bore a striking resemblance to those given to the Griswold family. J wasn't much help, as he had only ventured in far enough to find the first bar. I mentioned to J that getting lost in the casino on the way to your room was intentional, and that I wasn't stupid enough to fall for it.

    We eventually found the elevator bank, but it was blocked by a rather large man, with a secret service looking headset. Great, the 'eye, and ears' in the sky overheard me, and they are already giving me the boot. Nope. Just a guy making sure I had a room key. Cool. That lessens the possibility of someone stealing my wallet in the middle of the night like in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. This place is pretty cool. We find our room and open the door. Uhhhhhhhhhh. Implying that it was the nicest hotel room that I had ever seen would be an insult. I simply couldn't believe it. This place was incredible. While I looked at everything, flipped every switch (wow, electric curtains), and touching every surface, only to realize that everything was real (wood, marble, etc.), J called the bellman. "I was wondering where your shit was". About 5 minutes later, there is a knock at the door. In walks a very friendly young man, where his very first words are ..."looks like you guys are having a party". Off the luggage cart comes J's duffel bag, several gun cases, and three styrofoam coolers. J is the man. After we shoo the bellman away, J kicks the
    top off of the coolers. Each is filled with Coronas, Bud Lites, Miller Lites, mixers, Captain Morgan, Jack Daniels, you name it. "lets get busy", says J. "Fu-Kin-A", says I. I farted.

    So J and I catch up on his classes, and proceed to pound down several shots, and several more beers in the process. I also tell him how relieved I am to see the libations. I didn't know how I was going to be able to put a proper drunk on everyday with my measly bankroll, and $6 Coronas. J said he thought it best to take advantage of the car he had, and the local Walmart. Then, the inevitable question hit the table....what to do now? One more shot of Jack each, double fisting Coronas, and one in the pocket for good measure, we embark on what I now refer to, as the 'Walkabout'.

    We wander through the Bellagio for a while, trying to get our bearings. We are suddenly taken back with how classy this place is. But with the class, comes a price tag. And soon, our traveling beers will run out. We need a change of scenery. Remembering past trips, I suggest we go hang at a place more our style, the Barbary Coast. I remember the last time I was there that they had cheap gambling, and better still, cheap drinks. Out the side door of the Bellagio I see another welcome change; bridges over the Strip. While walking over the first, I ask J if there is an open container law in Vegas. He isn't sure, but thinks not. Once we come down the stairs on the Bally's side, we are getting lots of odd stares from people. Are they staring because we are violating the law, or because we are noticeably hammered, and carrying beers at 10 AM? Not wanting to have a brush with the law this soon into the trip, we stop at the nearest garbage can- and chug our last 2 beers each. You didn't think we would throw away perfectly good beers, did you?

    Over the last bridge and into BC. Wow. This place has changed. $2 dollar blackjack tables? Gone. McDonalds in the basement? Gone. What the hell is Drais, and do they have a 99 cent menu? Nothing is how I remember it; except the efficiency of the cocktail waitresses. Mighty impressive. So J and I find the only bank of nickel poker machines, and proceed to play and drink for several hours. What we decide is we have to win our tips if we want to drink. If we quit winning, we pull up our stakes and move on. I could barely see by the time we left. I also distinctly remember finding our waitress on the way out and dumping more money on her tray, and thanking her profusely for the state we were in.

    Moving north on the strip, the size of BC's drink glasses became painfully transparent as we ran dry just past the Flamingo. This is where J introduced me to another word that he coined; the Roadie. He stops in front of a convenience store near the CC and says he needs a 'Roadie'. "What's that?" I ask. So he heads in, only to return with 2 huge Miller Lite bottles. "Ahhh, now I get it. Road beers. J, you are a genius".

    Somehow we backtracked a little, and were standing at the line for the Flamingo buffet. J had heard that it was good. Hmmmm. I didn't like the idea of blowing 15% of the money in my pocket on a hog trough, and wait in line 30 minutes to do so. While in line, we had the pleasure of standing behind some French tourists. If I am being stereotypical, please excuse me, as I am not certain that they were French. But the fact that they smelled like an elephant's butt crack, and spoke French lead to the aforementioned assumption. Assuming they at least understood English, I asked J if he had showered this week. When he assured me he had, I remarked that it must be someone else in need of washing. Sadly, the stinky offenders didn't even break stride in their incessant chitchat long enough to take offense. I have to assume, at least based on their stench, that they were used to it.

    After finishing a plate or two of marginal food, our waitress came by for the first time to ask how things were. "It'll make a turd", was my only remark. I love that line. She didn't find it quite as funny (it never ceases to amaze me that sober people don't find me anywhere near as funny as I do when I am drunk. Who knew?) J farted.

    Our walkabout continued north about as far as we could stand. We finally landed at Slots-O-Fun, where their marquee, promising $1 beer specials, lured us in. I don't like slots; therefore I didn't find much fun there. After several $1 Heinekens, I had enough courage to belly up to the blackjack table. I don't know why I have to be half in the bag to play table games. I guess I don't like games where I can draw too much attention to myself, especially if my play can affect other people's outcomes. So I lay $10 on the table and am given 10 $1 chips. I put 9 in the circle and a $1 tip out for the dealer and then announce I am pressing my wins for 4 hands or bust. I proceed to win 4 in a row (the dealer stuck with me with his tip bet, I have never seen that before or after), the final one being a blackjack. You do the math. I couldn't add in that state. But I think it more than doubled my bankroll.

    Walking out of SOF, or was it stumbling, we realized that the wheels were coming off the bus. It was only about 3 in the PM, and we were both pissed. So we somehow managed to walk back to the Big B. I was in dire need of a nap, since I didn't sleep the night before. I hit the rack, as did J. However, he is one of those people who can fall asleep with the TV on. Not I. I was too tired to get up and shut it off, but couldn't fall asleep with it on. SOB. I gave up 2 hours later, and took a shower.

    Since I was the big winner, I decided to treat for dinner. A couple of months prior, I had the distinct pleasure of dining at my first Ruth's Chris steakhouse in Bloomfield, IL. For whatever reason, this particular one was listed in the top 5 best restaurants in all of the US by the Robb report. And let me tell you, it lived up to the hype. All I had was a huge filet, and about 6 Buds. It was the best steak I ever had. So naturally, I assumed that they were all this good. Finding one in the yellow pages, we hail a cab on over. Once seated, I assume I can get out of here relatively cheap. Yes, a steak was $30, and ala Carte at that. But J is mister Atkins, and usually passes on all carbs, save an occasional salad. Wrong. He ordered cheesy bread, stuffed mushrooms, and some shoestring potatoes to boot. When it was all said and done, the total tab was North of $140 with tip. Insult added to injury, the steak I had touted the whole way there was barely better than mediocre. Not wanting to take my entire wad, J happily picked up half the tab.

    Into a cab we go. Since J had to endure my culinary choice, it was his turn. He immediately asks the cabby about a nightclub. While driving, he turns around and looks at us without veering into oncoming traffic. He decides that our attire is just barely passable, and asks what we have in mind. J then drops what I refer to as the Vegas continuum: "Someplace nice, but not too expensive". When the cabby stopped laughing, some 6 blocks later, he said, "This is Vegas. Bring money, or stay home". Well played, Sir. Actually, I think he just wanted to get his digs in. Because he then went on a 10 minute rant about how most of clubs in town suck. When we asked about Light, he got racial. But he finally landed on the best club in town, and he was friends with the owner. He just so happened to have 2 tickets/line passes that he could sell us for 1/2 the face value. Being naive, we bought the sales pitch, and were soon looking at a line all the way out the front door of the Palms to get into the Ghost Bar. Not realizing that we had been duped, we walked up to the front of the line. J meekly handed our passes to one of the most massive men I have ever seen in my life. The sh$t-eating grin on his face was very telling, and I could hear snickers from the masses of people behind us. Not wanting to give up, J opens up his wallet and asks what it is going to take. I was fully expecting the guy to respond with ...."And I am asking how much you got, boy. All of it". So J pulls out a 10 spot and hands it to him. The guy literally starts laughing his ass off. "Is this a joke?". J then says, "Hey man. I am a lowly fireman, and that is a lot of money to me". The playful look on the bouncer's face turned annoyed, and he informed J that he was tired of people pretending to be fireman (after 9-11 and all) just to get in. Still not wanting to give up, J pulled out his badge. Bam!!!!! Not only did he open the velvet rope, he shook J's hand, said "Thank You", and we were on our way. I should mention that this was the first, and last time I have ever seen him play the fireman card. That is not his style. But I think he decided that he wasn't willing to make the walk of shame back past all 300 of those people.

    Once upstairs, it takes me about 4 minutes to decide that all 300 people downstairs need a life. The last time I paid $8 for a beer, I had nude women to look at. That isn't to say that the beautiful people weren't out that night, because they were. Even the dogs were hot. I guess Britney was there, but I didn't see her. I thought the place was weird. Earpiercing music, but signs that said dancing was forbidden. The obvious purpose of this place was to be seen there. Period. I did, however, find the view staggering. Speaking of staggering, I was pasted.

    Out on the patio, I noticed the plexi-glass in the floor. I should mention that I have somehow developed a fear of heights. I used to rock climb and repel, so I can't quite figure it out. Nonetheless, I decided that I had to not only stand in the center of it, but look down at the same time. This took a tremendous amount of courage. I finally made it to the middle, and was noticeably shaken. Just then, some drunken jackass decides to hop on with me, and proceeds to jump up and down on it like he is trying to smash through. Gulp (that is the sound I make as I try to swallow my nuts, which are suddenly up in my mouth). "Waitress. Another 8 dollar beer, please. You can also have all of the money in my wallet if you bring an opened bottle of Jack with you." I think it took three more beers to wash my hairy beanbag back down my throat.

    I finally convinced J that I was too drunk to function any longer. So we cabbed it back to the Big B. I have no idea what time it was. What I did know (and up to this point, I had forgotten), was that I was on a business trip, and I had a conference starting in just a couple of hours.

    Sadly, this wasn't the type of conference where one could just zone out for 6 or 8 hours. I had to be on my game. The only reprieve was the keynote speaker. It just happened to be Frank Abagnale, the subject of the movie Catch Me if You Can. Very interesting. I somehow managed to survive the day. I of course, swore to myself all day long that I wasn't going out tonight.

    "Wrong answer"....is what I heard from the slept-til-noon, spring chicken that was J. He holds out a low-ball glass with the equivalent of 4 shots of JD in it. "You suck. I thought you were my friend?" His response? "Friends don't let friends wuss out".

    Another thing that never ceases to amaze me is the effectiveness of the best hangover cure ever discovered; getting drunk again. Some people tout steam rooms and lots of liquids. Others swear by a big, greasy breakfast, coupled with several aspirins and gallons of coffee. Then there is the ever-helpful suggestion; "Maybe you shouldn't drink so much to begin with". Great suggestion, Mr. Wizard. So we spent the remaining daylight hours taking in the scenery at the Bellagio pool, cloaked behind our sunglasses, and enjoying cocktails we made in the room.

    Sadly, I don't have too many more seamless memories of the trip. I do remember going on a walkabout on the south end of the strip. I also distinctly remember going out the wrong doors in several hotels, only to wind up in a parking lot in the pitch black (remember the Mirage?). If I ever get mugged, I deserve it.

    After winding up in the dark parking lot of NYNY, we decided that drunk food was necessary. So we head over to that little mall type place next to MGM (where we should have been mugged 6 times en route). Climbing the stairs, I ask J what he has a hankering for. Coming down the stairs are two dorks. One of them holds up a bag and says "Hey man. There is a Subway up there!" I mumbled something like "no sh$t", and some other garbled words that resembled "only pussies eat that rabbit food". Mind you, I am not looking for a fight. I'm not the drunk A-hole type. I am more of the 'I love you man'-kind of drunk. I just figure it's Vegas, everyone is drunk, let's all bust each other's chops. Well, this guy decides that these are 'feudin' words', and stops a couple of steps below me, and starts getting up in my grill. Well, when I am drunk, I am all of the following: Good looking (dashing, actually), rich, witty, quick, charming, farking hilarious, one hell of a dancer, and could sit at the final table at the WSOP. And despite being 5'8", and about a buck-sixty five, soaking wet tough. I mean UFC tough. Fortunately, their is a tiny portion of the
    Logical side of my brain that somehow manages to stay sober, and keeps my mouth from getting me into too much trouble. So I have managed to avoid too many black eyes over the years. Well, that little part of my brain checked out. So first, I sized them up (pussies). Then I gave them a litany of derogatory reasons why they needed to shut the hell up, and perhaps reschedule their vacation to Disneyland. I guess this was a semi-bluff. I was hoping to intimidate them, but was willing to pay the consequences if my bluff was called, because I had the following 3 things going for me:

    1) For once in my life, I was actually bigger than both of these guys.
    2) J is a pretty big dude, and a recreational bar fighter. I know; resting on your buddy’s laurels is lame.
    3) I was above them on the stairs. So if worse comes to worse, I could just bowl them down the stairs.

    Fortunately, nothing came of it. They went on their way to eat their wussy sandwiches, and J and I stuffed our faces with greasy cheeseburgers from Wendy's. On the way back into the Bellagio, we came across a gentleman polishing the marble floors. It was about 4 am, and the place was deserted. He shut off his machine, and made a point to ask us how our day was. That really stuck with me. I don't know what things are like these days, but I have never in my life received better, more genuinely kind service than I did in those 3 days at the Bellagio. This was no accident. This level of service is something that is instilled in every employee, and I never encountered a single bad apple. Right then, I told J I was changing my mailing address to the Bellagio. I had just experienced an awakening.

    Postscript:
    With this being the 4th trip report I have under my belt, I have come to a realization; my trip reports are blurring the line between a report and a short story. I don't know that they could be considered 'informative'. I will stop short of delivering the obligatory apology about their length, however, as anyone can simply choose not to read them.

    Best Regards,
    Phu-Kna
     
  2. sunni

    sunni VIP Whale

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    Awesome report Dude. :thumbsup:
     
  3. Jer

    Jer VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    It's official... In my opinion, your trip reports are the best...ones...ever...:nworthy::nworthy::nworthy:
     
  4. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

    Joined:
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    Please don't wait several years to write the trip report on the upcoming trip! They're terrific!
     
  5. Jack21

    Jack21 Guest

    Nicely done, [STRIKE]Fu[/STRIKE], er, PHU. Freebies at the B.

    I have generally found that the hair of the same dog works best, beer for beer, Jack for Jack.:thumbsup:
     
  6. Hoopswife

    Hoopswife Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    That. was. beautiful. What a great read - I bet that took some time to do. Thanks for taking the time. Makes me want to have someone else pay for me to stay at B too :)
     
  7. gmoney590

    gmoney590 VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    Just love your reports/stories. On the day before Thanksgiving stuck at work with really nothing to do This really helps pass the time.
     
    Back where we belong
  8. PHU-KNA

    PHU-KNA Tourist

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2007
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    Any suggestions on how I pass time for the next 7 hours until my plane leaves? I am going batsh$t. I have decided that I need to be put in a carbon freeze between booking my Vegas trips and leaving.
     
  9. sanonofresurfer

    sanonofresurfer Dude

    Joined:
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    I love your trip reports/stories. Always a good read while I'm eating lunch at work.:nworthy:


    So THAT'S what I'm doing wrong....:drunk:
     
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