Las Vegas: Parents Gone Wild

It was a normal day. A lot of running around; nothing special — until I finally made it home. Ria was very excited, but she didn’t tell me what was going on. She was like, “You wanna have some real fun?”

I was stunned.
“Like Richard Gere?”
“No, what?”
“Nothing, nevermind. What?”
“We’re going to Las gas!”
“I’m never going back there.”
“My mom is going to watch the kids. I talked to A,B and C — they are all going!”
“Pack your shit … Richard Gere,”
she said with a giggle.

Day 1

We had plenty of ducks to get into a row. Grandma L was gonna watch the kids for the two nights we were on our trip. Pretty impressive move for an in-law. We had to get the dog boarded, stocked our fridge for the kid’s meals, I even baked some ganja brownies (oh shut the fuck up, I’ve got my 215 biz-niches).. but it was Level Orange security cuz of the dude that tried to blow his dick up and I got too scared to smuggle my stoney treats, which sucked, cuz it only took 30 minutes in Vegas for me
to curse my ass for not bringing any weed.

Anyway, right after I hot-boxed my truck in the Arcata/Eureka Airport parking lot, I was face to face with the stark reality of leaving my kids and house behind for the next couple of days. … Me with my wife, all alone, allowed to sleep in as long as we wanted, stay up as late as we wanted, drink as we pleased, gamble … Bring that shit on! I boarded that plane like a biscuit smothered in gravy.

We touched down in Vegas in the early afternoon. It was a turbulent incoming; Ria almost puked, scaring the shit out of a young lady next to us. Ria kept saying, “Ungh, I feel carsick,” with her hand over her mouth as if she might puke.

“Do you need the bag?” I would ask, and the young lady next to us would try to expand her distance from us as much as her seat belt would allow.
“No,” Ria would snap, with a hand over her mouth. I’ve seen this a million times. My wife gets car sick. I never do, so at first I didn’t understand. I’d try to talk her down. We’ve been married for more than 10 years, with plenty of curvy roads. I know there is no rationalizing this curse of road-sickness that she suffers from, and I accept that. I’ve only seen her hurl once or twice in all the times I’ve heard about it; my trigger finger on the panic button is very slow now. So I stay calm.

We made it off the plane and entered the Las Vegas airport. Our plane touched down a few hours before our friends’ plane. So we leisurely checked into our suite at Bally’s and began what would turn into a 48-hour slot- machine-stuffing, free-drink- pounding, eyeball-burning jaunt in the heart of Sin City.

Parents gone wild.

And we weren’t alone. The floor was covered with folks filled with hope and dreams. We swam through the recycled air, blue with Pall Mall, warm with a yellow filter. We didn’t even want to go outside. Ria and I started with the quarter slots, and baby, I hit a $225 payoff in two max bets.

“Drinks!” I yelled like a freshly Tased savage rookie.

We danced like children. The pit bosses must have laughed — new trout to spear.

The last time I was in Vegas, players were still paid in coins. No more. The machines shit out a thin ticket that other machines eat, and you never even get to touch the money.

Ria and I finally met up with our friends. It was dinner time. We decided on a nice restaurant in our hotel, Al Dente. Now mind you, we were three outta four couples that had kids, and we all made this trip without kids. Of course we all love our kids dearly, but for all of us to be at a nice dinner, just adults (like I act like an adult) … this shit was PRICELESS. Until the check came … $500. OK, this is what we came here for. Let’s go feed some more slots with these shit tickets.

It was only 11 p.m. when Ria and I decided this was too much for any more free drinks and slots. I know its sad, but we marched ourselves up to our room and went to bed.

Day 2

We were FREE, we could do whatever we wanted … but we woke up at 8 a.m. anyway. Now mind you, we normally have to get up at 6 a.m. cuz our 2-year-old daughter gets up then, so it was still sleeping in.

There is a spot in the Paris casino, which is attached to Bally’s, where you can get crepes of all different types. Ria and I went and stood in line for our order, then paid and waited a long-ass time to get our crepes. We took them back to our room. I frickin’ love crepes, and these were great. Ria got some kind with eggs; mine had ham and cheese and tomatoes.

Because we really didn’t get as drunk as we thought we should have the day before, Ria and I thought we would start the morning by ordering White Russians every time we could, which is often when playing the slots in a Las Vegas casino. I had pounded at least eight when A, B and C had finally rousted. We met for drinks at the Bellagio.

“What did you guys get into last night?” I asked B.

“Oh shit, we ended up down the block at [a spot, I can’t remember the name] … C ended up telling the bartender how he couldn’t even get drunk in Las Vegas — how all the drinks are watered down. So she filled up one of the tall, bong-looking cups up with five different kinds of vodka … and he ended up getting hammered.”

I looked at C and he nodded, holding his tummy.

“Yeah, I puked this morning,” he let me know.
“You are supposed to puke before you go to bed,”  I said.
“Yeah, I know.”

“What have you guys been doing?” B asked me. I told him about Ria’s and my plan to get faded early, maybe take a nap, and go at it again later.

We bellied up at a bar in the Bellagio — a really classy-looking bar.

“What are you getting, Wong?”
“I’m getting a martini,” I said.
“Me too!” they all cheered in unison.

A martini will separate the strong from the weak immediately. The first gagging sip lets the boys know that this is a serious drink; don’t let the name fool ya, it is a big cup of gin with the slightest hint of dry vermouth (like that would make it any mellower).

Four Tanqueray martinis with olives,” I ordered for the crew. The ladies had sneaked off to hit the slots; we boys sipped on the martinis. A couple of us gagged a little, and one of us might have thrown up in his mouth a little. I was loving life. We ordered a round of beers to follow the martinis and found the girls, who were working on some lemon- drop martinis (not to be confused with the manly martinis we had just consumed). We pow-wowed about what to do, and someone suggested we get tickets to see Cirque du Soleil, so we tromped off to find a ticket counter.

We found one and waited in line like every other sucker in Vegas … slightly swaying back and forth like really short trees in a breeze.

After 15 minutes we made it up to the front to ask about the Cirque.

“Oh, I’m sorry, sir, the show is sold out until tomorrow night’s performance at 10:30,” the nice lady told me. “We could sell you standing room tonight if there are some cancellations.”

“How much are the tickets for that?”
“For all of us?”
“No, for each of you.”

I looked around, doing the math for eight people … fuck that.

“Let’s go gamble.”

At this point, two of the couples wanted to get tattoos and the other two wanted to go hit some more gambling.

B and C and their ladies decided they wanted to check out the cost for some simple script tattoos at Vince Neil’s tattoo shop, which they saw last night on their jaunt. Ria and I and Mr. A and his wife decided to try our luck at Caesars.

We made our way over the Strip and through the impressive front doors of Caesars. Las Vegas is Disneyland for adults. Every casino has its own theme, and Caesars was crazy Roman column and sculptures. We made our way through the lobby onto the casino floor where Ria ordered us four Cosmopolitans, which I am told is a chick drink, but gawd damn, that shit goes down smooth

I sat down at a quarter slot machine and put in a $20 bill. I have a certain type of slot I like to play; if I’m wasting time trying to get drinks I play the penny or nickel slots, the ones with like 15 different pay lines, and I max bet on those, every time … you can’t win shit if you don’t. But on a quarter slot or a dollar machine, I like the single-play line games, where the max bet is three credits and bonuses on the max three … a bonus would be free spins or some Wheel of Fortune type shit.

So anyway, I sat there as the machine credited my money and looked at the machine. I get weird around slots; I actually try to use THE FORCE on them, and I don’t mean “kinda joking around using THE FORCE,”  I mean Darth Vader gangsta death look. And I gotta tell you, there is nothing more satisfying to stroke the ego than the use of the DARK SIDE MINDFUCK first-spin jackpot — which I hit, for a cool $375, and following a simple rule that has paid off for me: When you win, print out your ticket and walk away, because that machine will drain all that money back if you give it the chance to. Win, print, walk.

We sipped on a few more Cosmos and decided to cross the street and check out Bill’s Casino. As we left the front of Caesars, Ria spotted a kiosk selling french fries and decided that she must have some. We were in the front courtyard, surrounded by giant hotels; the sun was shining and big fluffy clouds floated past. Spring in Las Vegas is awesome. Mr. A and his wife and I saw an outside bar, which was surprisingly empty, and told Ria that while she waited for her fries, we were gonna go get drinks and wait in the sun on some nearby steps.

We rolled up and  were greeted by a nice bartender. We mentioned something about needing strong drinks for our mission. He hooked us up with 151 in some slushies. Shit smelled like cherry-flavored paint thinner … but while sitting in the sun waiting for Ria, we made some pretty impressive dents in our cups. I was starting to feel really loose. Ria rolled up and we bounced out.

While crossing the overpass I noticed something: That is the only place during the day where I would see panhandlers. I wondered if they just liked the bridges because the pedestrians were forced to pass at relatively close distances or if there is some law in Vegas about keeping that shit off the sidewalk. I couldn’t imagine that; I just passed through four or five separate flocks of Mexican dudes passing out escort business cards, which littered the streets around them like a thin layer of porno ice sheets.

Bill’s Casino is straight old-school, and pretty small. Our girls decided they wanted to finish the drinks while playing some penny slots, and Mr. A suggested that he and I go play some blackjack.

We had finished our slushies and ordered a round of beers as we took our seats at the blackjack table. This was a $10 minimum table, single deck, which means that the hand is dealt face down — you can only use one hand to look at your cards, you had to motion with your cards if you wanted another hit, and you had to slide your cards under your bet if you didn’t want any more cards. All of this I learned right off the bat as I broke every one of those rules and the dealer had to school me.

I bought $60 worth of chips and so did Mr A. Blackjack is a shitty game, because if you ever win, it seems super easy, and the next four or five times you go back you get slaughtered. This was my winner. I got to $200 and decided I should cash out and check on the girls.

As I walked up on them I knew they were winning, too. Ria was hollering and waving her arms. She was surrounded by some old ladies who had to see what was going on. I was laughing; we were finally getting drunk and a little loud. This is what I was waiting for.

We made our way back to Bally’s. We decided to go to our respective rooms and get ready for dinner. At this point I could use a nap, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to pull out of it. Late naps are tough on my constitution.

Ria and I gave everyone a call an hour later to find out that they had all gotten sandwiches, so we decided to hit up Le Burger, a restaurant in the connected casino, Paris. We got nice and dressed up. We don’t often get to go out without two kids and even though this was a burger joint, it was still laid out like a fine restaurant, and you better believe the price of each burger reflects that. We were maintaining a good buzz and giggling like kids at the prom. Our food came; I had some special burger, can’t remember it all that well, and Ria had a veggie burger (and said it was the best meal she had in Las Vegas). They don’t give a shit about vegetarians in Vegas yet; it ain’t Humboldt.

Mr. A and his wife called and came down to join us at the table and have a few drinks. I was full, drunk and weighing my options. It was Thursday — “Survivor” night at my crib. And it was 7:40 p.m., 20 minutes until “Survivor” started. I was so tempted to say, “Yo, I’m out, going up to the room to lay back and peep the ‘Heroes vs. Villains’.” Ria thought that was a wack idea. Fuck, I know, but like I said, I was full and running a good 10-hour buzz, and I think 7 p.m. is my natural lull period.

As we all walked back down the hallway to Bally’s, we passed a bar that served these tall, crushed-ice drinks served in a glass that looked like a two-foot Graffix bong. During the entire trip I walked past that bar, confident that I would never be one of the douchebags carrying one of those cups around. Then, somehow, there I was, walking around with a double- shot margarita tourist-fuckface cup. Mr. A and I each had one.

All the couples had regrouped at this point, pondering the possibilities. The ones that had gone out the night before wanted to take the rest of us back there, swearing up and down that we’d love it. I was still considering “Survivor” and holding this cold-ass drink. My hand was going numb, so I tried to pound the slurpious thing, only to get a full-on raging brain freeze. I’d try to shake that off, and realize my hand was still numb and try to pound some more, only to get brain freeze again. This was hell, but I refused to waste the drink, or set it down. No pain, no gain.

By the time I got that monstrosity down, I was so full and so spent from the handful of painful brain freezes that I was going to call it quits. I already had missed the first 15 minutes of “Survivor”, but 3/4 sounded good still. I was getting grumpy.

Somehow, Ria managed to coerce me into staying up and going with the gang to the bar they had found last night. We left the recycled air and entered a beautiful and dry Las Vegas night.

The Strip was packed with hordes of party people, brides, grooms, and flatbillers. We meandered down a few blocks to a spot called O’Sheas.

“They’ve got dollar beers here and $3 Irish car bombs,” I was told.
“I’m still too full to even think about drinking,” I cried.
“Oh, stop being a pussy. We are in Vegas!”

I was handed an Irish car bomb. I was afraid that I would vomit as soon as I tipped the cup back. We poured the Irish cream and whiskey into the cups of Guinness, yelled “Cheers!” and threw ‘em back.

Me is this international? Ashley Ramone 08/04/10 9:04 PM fears had passed. An Irish car bomb is the smoothest drink in town. Mine slid right down the hatch. I could do more of those. And after a very relieving trip to the john, I started a relentless offensive, buying two car bombs at a time with a dollar-beer chaser. We started to get pretty loose and loud. It was time to gamble. We sat at the roulette table and somehow began to win. I went for more car bombs and Mr. B and Mr. C were still winning when I got back. Ria was getting pretty tanked and Mr. A was straight-up drunk. We decided to head back to our hotel/casino. Mr. B and Mr. C were winning too much to leave — don’t walk away from a heater, right? That would be the last I would see them. Their flight was earlier than mine.

Mr. and Mrs. A, Ria and I got back to Bally’s around 2 a.m. The girls wanted to play some slots and get a few more free drinks. Me too. Mr. A said we should play some blackjack. We did, and we lost quickly. I had bought $100 worth of chips and lost them almost as fast. Mr. A didn’t fend much better; he burned through his hundo a few minutes after I did.

Mr. and Mrs. A, Ria and I got back to Bally’s around 2 a.m. The girls wanted to play some slots and get a few more free drinks. Me too. Mr. A said we should play some blackjack. We did, and we lost quickly. I had bought $100 worth of chips and lost them almost as fast. Mr. A didn’t fend much better; he burned through his hundo a few minutes after I did.


About Sonny Wong

Sonny Wong is hard to find and usually is on vacation. When he is not deep within his art studio painting, he is bombarding Instagram, Facebook & Twitter with his #foodporn (@sonnywong001). Mr. Wong is a father of two great children and a full-time art bum. You might find him in some of the cuttiest spots in Humboldt painting graffiti or deep in the mountains jumping off tall rocks into deep creeks and rivers. If you see him on the street say HI, and buy him a beer.

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