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Grown-Up in Vegas, for the First Time

Being Slightly More Mature and Escaping Sin City in One Piece


I know, I know. As a card-carrying member of my generation, I should be starting this column about my Memorial Day weekend in Las Vegas with a discussion about bats - the nocturnal flying creates that Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas made practically synonymous with the City of Sin. But, as every bouncer, bartender and big-breasted cocktail waitress remarked over the course of the weekend, that card-my driver’s license, to be exact-is more than a little bent. Such are the consequences of running your license through the dryer, but still. I think that gives me the right to bend the writing-about-Vegas rules at least a little bit too.

Not that my Vegas trip didn’t have the requisite revelry and cultural cliches. I won money gambling, and was then promptly warned by my well-meaning friends that trying to triple what I had already doubled was probably a bad idea. I lounged in the luxurious hot tub with a giant pink drink in my hand, its frosty tip reaching almost to the top of my head. I later threw up most of said frosty pink margarita in the hallway of the lovely Tropicana Hotel. (Don’t worry mom, I did it cleanly into a nice little plastic bag, which I promptly threw away so nobody would have to clean up after me.) I stood in a ridiculously long line to get into an overcrowded, overheated pit of groping guys and girls swaying salaciously on shaky stilettos. I danced right by Lebron James. I flirted my way into a VIP booth where the vodka flowed as freely as the sweat streaming off the forehead of the big, Drakkar-drenched guy in the too-tight polo shirt who had apparently paid good money for it-a fact he found it necessary to repeat with somewhat alarming frequency. I danced on tables until my blisters developed blisters, drank until the room started spinning, ate a muffin next to an unnaturally shiny sports-car in the casino lobby and then went back and danced on the tables some more.

I had the pleasure of hearing all about how my male friends blew all their money at a strip club. I ate hot pastrami sandwiches next to an unnaturally shiny deli situated somewhere between mini-Brooklyn and New York New York’s token dive bar. Later that same night, the same dive bar played host to the fourth performance of “You Shook Me All Night Long” by a classic rock cover band that I heard that day.

I met the heir to the Mattel Barbie fortune when I accidentally found myself sipping vodka tonics on the curvy couch of his VIP booth at Mandalay Bay, and engaged in a long, convoluted conversation with him and his friends about how Malibu in California is not actually the same city as the Malibu in Florida. I had my drink stolen in the bathroom, had more alcohol spilled on me than in me, and somehow managed to make it through an entire weekend in Vegas without donning anything sparkly, spandex, sequined, or feathered. I consumed more caffeine than food, more second-hand smoke than oxygen and more liquor in one weekend than in the last few months of my college career combined.

My Vegas may not have had any bats, barbiturates or Benicio del Toro. I didn’t lose ridiculous sums of money, make an ass out of myself during any of my drunken debauchery or even end up with any real regrets-other than a minor meltdown in the lobby of Caesar’s that I have decided to write off as the result of my strappy, stacked sandals cutting off circulation to my brain. I made it home with most of my savings, and all of my dignity pretty much intact. The only thing the weekend really wreaked havoc on is my feet.

Now, there was a time when I would have felt like such a “successful” trip to Vegas was actually a failure on my part. I must not have partied hard enough, I must not have risked enough at the tables, or drank enough at the bars. Surely, a good Vegas trip had to include more mistakes, right?

Well, I must not have had a good trip. In fact, I think I actually ended up having a great one. It wasn’t the all-out blackout-fest I expected it would be, but it was still a really good time.

I suppose that if I were in a philosophical mood, I could muse about how my Vegas trip is really a metaphor for what I learned living life at college - an illustration of the fact that, no matter what expectations the media, my friends and my man Hunter set up for me, the best times are to be had when I indulge in things on my own terms. About how my trip was an encapsulation of the education I have had here at UCSB, at least when it comes to knowing how to have my fun and not eat it too.

I could say that my Vegas trip was actually the perfect way to begin bidding adieu to all things UCSB, the climactic moment of my college career, the trip that tested all the things the past few years have taught me about balancing practicality and pleasure, about being carefree without being careless, about learning to let go without letting myself go too far. I could say that the Vegas trip was a series of multiple choice questions - choosing between just staying buzzed or blacking out, choosing between a club that wouldn’t let my friend in or a bar that didn’t care when we walked in wearing jeans and sandals, choosing to make running barefoot through the rain to get to our buffet an adventure rather than an aggravation.

If I was feeling philosophical, I could say a lot of things. But, I’m not feeling particularly philosophical right now.

Mostly, I’m just exhausted.

I did just get back from Vegas after all.

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