Las Vegas. Sin City. What happens there, stays there. There’s nowhere in the world like it, except the “other” Las Vegas, and I’m not talking about Laughlin. I’m talking about the two separate Las Vegas’s (Las Vegasi? Las Vegasen? What is the plural of Las Vegas? Los Lobos? Les Nessman? Julio IglasiVegas? Perhaps an informed English major will let me know). These two cities are separated not by lines on a map, but by the laugh lines and crows feet of age. Just like in your hometown, Vegas has loud, ultra-hip, crowded places that the young congregate. In addition, it has places with comfortable chairs, a complete acceptance of pants with loose waistbands, and significantly less floor vomit, where more seasoned individuals gravitate. These two Sin Cities exist side by side, and their existence is as certain as taxes, death, and The Priory Of Scion (Which I’m pretty sure is either a car company or some kind of runny cheese).
I became aware of the two Vegas’s on a trip to Sin City last year with my friend Tom. Tom and I have been friends since 1986 (a year which, according to my twelve year old daughter, was shortly after the discovery of fire) and have stayed that way through all of the ups and downs and sideways’s of our lives (Sidewaysi? Sidewaysen? SideWynona?). Tom currently lives in Germany, where after a decade in the Army he retired and is now the morning radio personality on the American Forces Network there; CLICK HERE and check out AFN Power Connect With Tom Arnholt if you have the opportunity. (If you ask Tom to say “Gooooood Morning Germanyyyyyyy!!!” he thinks it’s a riot. No, really, go ahead and do it! Nothing bad will happen, he won’t try to punch you in the rucksack or anything!) Tom is the type of guy that other guys like to have Vegas weekends with, an old trustworthy friend who will always back you up, who speaks your particular dialect of stupid, and most importantly is always willing to buy the next round if you nurse your drink long enough and wait him out. Being old friends, Tom and I remember Twenty Five Year Old Vegas, so on the first night of our 2010 weekend we gamely attempted to recreate those younger days. They say “You can’t party like you did when you were younger,” but that’s not entirely true. The truth is you can’t RECOVER like you did when you were younger. Oh, we had no trouble that first night putting down the beer and the shots and howling at the moon, but when Day Two rolled around, we discovered that despite the Jack Daniels induced delusions the previous evening of a recaptured youth, we were indeed still men over forty. (GUY TIP: Slamming down JD while saying “If it was good enough for Frank Sinatra, it’s good enough for me!” is nice in theory and an homage to the greatest performer of the 20th century, but you have to remember that there was only one Sinatra, and over his lifetime of being “Francis” he proved he was beyond superhuman. We, on the other hand, can’t drink like Sinatra. Can’t sing like Sinatra. Heck, I even look stupid in a Fedora. You’re not Frank, so don’t try to act like him. It’s really that simple)(The same goes for Charlie Sheen, but for entirely different reasons) When the unholy ball of fire known as “the morning sun in Vegas” appeared the next day, I felt as if some of those “guys” Frank was rumored to have been “connected to” had been doing the lead-pipe Pesci dance on my temples. My head hurt. My knees hurt. My hair hurt. I’m not entirely certain, but I think my ovaries hurt. (Ovaries are somewhere on the back of the neck, right?)(Ovari? Ovaren? Ovaralifragilisticexpealidocious?) Everything hurt, folks, that’s the point I’m trying to make. Tom? My old friend spent the bulk of the morning staring into a neverending cup of in-room coffee and saying things like “Mrpndhstwww,” and “Uoosaaalm,” and “Ggggggpft.” (I’m paraphrasing) We undoubtedly deserved the pain, for our brazen act of “age invading” was both unprovoked and indefensible. The pain was no less than a message straight from God, telling us we were trespassing in the world of the young, and buddy we were not welcome. That’s right, when paunchy interlopers with graying temples, and mortgages, and photos of our kids in the spot in our wallets where we used to store “protection” attempt to crash the party in Twenty Five Year Old Vegas, punishments from the universe are quick and severe. So, what is Twenty Five Year Old Vegas? I’m so happy you asked ...
LAS VEGAS #1: “Twenty Five Year Old Vegas”
This is the Las Vegas that immediately leaps to mind when someone yells “VEGAS ROAD TRIP! WHOOOOOOO!” The Vegas of movies and beer commercials. The Vegas of rock stars and Paris Hilton and surprisingly few underpants. This the Vegas that stays in Vegas after you leave (Partly because you shouldn’t tell anyone what happened, and partly because there’s a Watergate sized gap in your memory tape)(Which is an odd reference to make because in 2011, the majority of people eligible for Twenty Five Year Old Vegas are far too young to have any idea what I mean by Watergate). This is the Vegas with all of the night life and three foot Yaegermeister drinks and loud music and way-out-of-your-league girls who flirt you into buying them drinks until dawn but leave with the guy in the cool car and then you wake up on the sidewalk without pants and sporting a tattoo that says “Hells Accountants - Dubuque Chapter.” This Vegas is excruciatingly loud, but no one seems to notice or care. Yelling into someone’s face who is less than four inches away is not considered rude, and “dancing” with women in a manner that would get you slapped and maced in any other city is an accepted form of woo and charm.
Twenty Five Year Old Vegas is the Vegas where you need one friend who is “that guy.” The guy who just knows people, and no one else in the group can figure out how he does it. He’s an odd sort of Norm Peterson/Gadabout hybrid, who knows someone, some insider, no matter where you go. He seems to have fifty six hours in his day and never sleeps. He may or may not have been created in a lab. There’s one in every group of guys, that one that your wife/girlfriend is uneasy around, and hints that he may be a con man who’ll be played by a nattily coiffed Leo DiCaprio when they make a movie about his life. The kind of guy that if for some reason you have a desperate need for six iguanas and a calliope, he’ll “know a place that can hook you up.” You know that guy? Of course you do. That guy is essential to Twenty Five Year Old Vegas. Without him, a night in Vegas would be just another trip to a bar. With him, a night in Vegas is like a CIA mission - it’s a fantastic story that will get you killed if you ever tell anyone.
Twenty Five Year Old Vegas doesn’t like morning, in fact morning is its personal Kryptonite. Compared to the freedom of nighttime Vegas, morning has too many things to DO, like figuring out who that girl is, why her husband is there, where you got this Daddy Warbucks costume, etc. This Vegas is nearly defenseless against the “morning terrors,” but there is one way to combat it - by having limited contact with the unholy ball of fire known as the morning sun. To reduce the power of the unholy ball, it is only seen at the end of a night, and is usually greeted with giggles, war whoops, and an unwise trip to a Dennys. By keeping the night going directly into the next day, the darkside power of the morning is reduced, and everyone knows that Dennys has an almost supernatural force field protecting it from sanity or common sense. At this late night snack/breakfast trip hybrid, there’s usually one member of your party who ends up asleep in the booth, blissfully unaware of the syrup mustaches and whipped butter sideburns he is given. This is where the game of golf comes in. The four guys who planned to play golf stumble to the parking lot and head over that way, with one passing out in the car. Sure, we can play golf! We can’t find our shoes or form complete sentences, and we smell like Milwaukee, but put us in a motorized golf cart and hand us those bags full of deadly weapons! What could possibly go wrong! The remaining three arrive an hour early for their tee time and brilliantly decide to have a 6AM beer in the clubhouse, where one of them returns his breakfast “from whence it came,” if you get my drift, and joins his unconscious buddy in the car. Seeing the surveillance-level looks they are getting from the golf course staff, the guy somewhat within shouting distance of the far fringes of sober decides that they should bail, over the loud protests of his never-say-die-or-done-drinking pal, who bursts out the door into the parking lot yelling something along the lines of “WE’RE GOING TO VEGAS!!!” They are next seen around 4PM, in a hotel room that may or may not be theirs, trying to make a meal out of the crushed pop tarts in their backpack and asking “Well, how the hell did I lose ONE sock?”
What happens then? Well, they’ve lathered, so they rinse and repeat. Twenty Five Year Old Vegas is a loop of debauchery where mortals attempt to become Caligulas (Caliguli? Caligulen? Caliguramlamadingdong?), and this is one of the larger differences between it and Forty Plus Vegas. What is Forty Plus Vegas?
You’ll just have to come back and see...
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