December 15, 2006

Zippers come undone in Vegas

By Grubby © 2006

Last night at Spearmint Rhino:

"Would you like another dance?" whispered Danielle.

I pulled her close and whispered in her ear, "Do you have to ask?"

She smiled, kissed my cheek and said, "Okay, but could you first do me a favor? Your zipper's undone."

* * * * *

I've been in Vegas since Saturday, probably a few days too long. I think back to how I could have survived living here, and I realize I probably didn't.

I'm typing this in the Caesars Palace Diamond Lounge, at one of their four free Internet terminals. To my left is an Australian guy who either has a poker blog or is showing a poker blog to a friend. To my right is a woman playing Sudoku. In my hand is a pina colada to polish off the strawberry tart in the buffet. I'm trying to write fast, in case anyone is behind me waiting, wagging their finger at the 20-minute time limit. Diamond Lounge members have a certain feeling of entitlement; at the buffet they pick and eat food as if there weren't a health code.

The week was spent at G2E, walking through a convention center the size of 68 football fields. I confined myself to maybe a third of that, most of it filled with slot manufacturers showing off their latest wares.

The bigger booths hired booth babes via a modeling agency that sends them out en masse at $500/day... oh to be female and good looking in Las Vegas. They walked around in skimpy or classy or hybrid outfits doing their best Vanna White impressions. One company hired girls to dress as suitcase models for "Deal or No Deal," roaming the showroom floor with numbered suitcases. My favorite was a company featuring a snow-themed game, complete with booth babes dressed as snow bunnies.

This was my first time at G2E, and it's an overwhelming and heavenly experience, being surrounded by the latest slot machines that invite you to play without investing any money. Free drinks (much of it beer and wine) were handed out by booth babes. Some snacks included Pepperidge Farm cookies, some finger sandwiches, and some chocolate lollipops.

I rebooked my flight to arrive earlier and depart later. For the flight change fee, I could stay one more night and save $20. I shouldn't be tempted by savings like that: an extra day in Las Vegas can be deadly.

I don't have much of a trip report, but the end result is that I lost more than I care to admit, all on slots. If only I had itemized, I could pull up all my win-loss statements and write off the losses on my taxes.

Despite losing, however, it's a thrilling experience to watch players play our games with the coworkers who created it. It's even more fun to play that same game with the creators. Because if I lose, I can swat the mathematician.

A bunch of us went to Spearmint Rhino last night, after five hours of a closing party with free food and an open bar, drinks at Hard Rock, and ransom-worthy photos. I spent most of the party getting to know some programmers and engineers over girlie drinks. The whole table was into ordering fruity frozen drinks. Being my favorite type of drink, I quickly took part. Our table seemed more like a kids' table at Thanksgiving dinner, against all the beer drinkers.

At the club, Maya chatted me up. She said she'd moved from Fremont, CA, and has been living with her mother for three weeks. She's been working at Rhino for half that. I believed all of it.

I used my standard circus performer story, embellishing on the fly a bit, depending on her reaction. I said my name was Roy and I was in town for a circus convention. I used to be with Cirque du Soleil but the politics were too much, not to mention I didn't speak French. I miss the exercise and the high wire, but the lack of a net beneath caused health insurance to skyrocket. I left them in 2004 and became an accountant, but I still attend the conventions to keep up on the latest juggling developments.

Then my boss came up and blew my cover. He threw Maya a bunch of bills and asked her to take me into the backroom for a good time.

She prepared me for a "world-class Rhino experience," but it was nothing that wouldn't be done on the main floor. She was almost too nice; after the first song I said she could be more aggressive if she wanted.

Later I kept running into Maya. She was always eating Twizzlers and mentioned a drunk customer that she turned down because she didn't want to take advantage. I don't think Maya will make it in the strip club industry.

I still have 24 hours left in Vegas. I don't particularly want to lose more money, but I do have a rental car, so maybe I'll drive around and sample all the free food in the Diamond Lounges.

Grubby is a writer currently living in Chicago, IL.

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