You get what's
Part 3 - Saturday
A funny thing happened Saturday morning. Matt awoke to the sounds of munching, like someone in the room was eating. It turns out our gluttonous, mooing friend Robert was sitting up in bed, wide awake chomping away on contraband foods. He knew that the rules of the $19/day trip did not allow for sneaking in any sustenance, and yet, there he was scarfing down a handful of shortbread cookies he had smuggled from home in a coat pocket. Matt peered across the darkened room and asked, "What are you doing?" Startled to find Matt awake, Robert quickly covered his mouth. "Nothing," he replied. Matt accused, "I saw you eating cookies." "No, you didn't." Stinky woke up now. "What's going on?" "Robert snuck food in." "No, I didn't"
Stinky, while still groggy, had the good sense to say, "I say we kill him." And while Robert continued to deny the truth, Stinky and Matt pounded on him with a vengeance unseen since the ne'er-do-wells got their comeuppance in the classic sci-fi film "Megazone." They pried open his clenched fist and, sure enough, there were the remainders of some crumbled cookies. Their faith in him was broken. His punishment was that he could not take a shower.
By the time all the rasslin' was done and Stinky and Matt had taken showers it was nearly 10:20 a.m. The breakfast coupons were soon to expire. The Spike gives its guests two breakfast coupons per room per day. Each is good for a complete meal of scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and hash browns. Without the coupon, the breakfast is $0.99. Only catch is, they only serve the breakfast until 10:30 and the clock was working against the young men. With three of them, they agreed to use the two coupons and then split the cost of the third meal, making each breakfast cost $0.33 each. They scurried down to the Spike's restaurant and ordered with but a few seconds to spare.
The breakfast was fine, and Stinky and Matt quickly fell into a rousing round of "what if". The "what if" was, "what if Robert dies?" They debated whether if, upon his death on that day, they could take his money and add it to their limited budgets. Robert did not like - and did not join - the debate, but it was ultimately decided that Matt and Stinky could spend his money. Robert kept saying "it's only a 'what if', right? I mean, you aren't going to kill me."
After breakfast, they went down to the Plaza to see if they could find the girls in the casino. No luck. They then walked over to the California to catch the shuttle to Sam's Town. And from Sam's Town they shuttled to the MGM. Ultimately, they wanted to catch another shuttle to Boulder Station where they had coupons for free buffets from the casino's website (no longer there). But they three of them had time to kill between shuttles and they wasted that wandering all over the South Strip.
The MGM is probably the weakest attempt at a theme for any resort. Also, the mammoth casino is the third most confusing to navigate, right after Circus Circus and Caesars Palace - both of which are confusing because of subsequent expansions. MGM has been lame and confusing from day one. Luckily, after an hour of wandering about inside the place, they found a way out.
They headed across the street to the Excalibur, which only looks like King Arthur's palace if he bought his home decor at K-Mart. This place was built at the same time as the Mirage, but already looks pretty ragged and crumbly. Robert confessed that ever since reading "The Once and Future King" he has been pining for Gueneviere. Next door to the Ex is Luxor. This is the only place in the world where a half-assed British empire is connected by a moving walkway to a half-assed Egyptian pyramid.
Robert wanted to get some grub. He always wants to get some grub. So they ambled up the Strip to the Holiday Inn Boardwalk, which has a wide variety of cheap and edible food products. This hotel's casino is never crowded. Supposedly they have created a buffet that competes on a level playing field with Circus Circus's food morass, but the boys didn't come to get sick. They came so Robert would eat something and stop mooing like a cow. Robert chose the half pound hot dog for $1.29 because it gave him the most weight per dollar, and he thought it sounded good. A thought he continued to honestly believe right up until he swallowed the first bite. After that, he ran back into the deli and smothered the rest of his wiener with so much ketchup and onions that he could no longer taste the rat hair and feces that were surely contained within the meal.
It was time to get back to the MGM to catch the free shuttle to the Boulder Station. Once Matt, Robert and Stinky reached the MGM's huge transportation waiting area near the amusement park, however, they learned the BS shuttle runs infrequently, and even then not on time. So they waited. Then they waited some more. Then they got out some pennies and started pitching them against the side of the MGM. Some lady that worked there came out and told them that if they were going to pitch pennies they had to cut her in for 10%. Then this other guy starts watching from a distance, kind of hoping to be invited to play. But the boys were too cool for him. He started helping make the close calls as to who's penny was closest to the building. Then some other old-timer gets off a shuttle and asked if he can join. Robert said "Sure," just to make the first guy all jealous. The old-timer asked, "What are you playing?" Matt responded, "Pennies." And he said that he thought he could afford that. But then Matt sprung the bad news on him, "There's a $5 buy-in." He balked, "Whoa, that's pretty steep," to which Stinky responded, "It's to keep the scum out." The guy decided not to join in, so it looks like the $5 buy-in worked its magic.
After a while, Stinky and Robert got tired of Matt beating their pants off pitching pennies, so they all decided to spring for a real bus trip. They walked out to Tropicana and caught the crosstown CAT to Boulder Highway for a buck. Out there, they stood in this vacant lot in the dark waiting for the Boulder Highway bus to carry them the rest of the journey. Stinky thought every pair of headlights in the distance was a bus and kept shouting "Here it comes!" until a girl also at the stop said she wanted to punch him. Matt thought this was a pretty good idea, so he held Stinky down and let her take a swing. She ended up just tapping him, because she actually had a crush on him. Even though she put no force into it, Stinky still bawled like a little baby.
After half an hour of Robert whining, "I'm huuuuuungry... Let's just start walking... When's the bus coming?.... I'm hungry... moooo." CAT finally came through. The boys got on and surreptitiously flashed their transfers, so that they could hang on to them for the trip back downtown after dinner.
The Boulder Station dinner buffet normally costs $8.99, but with the website coupon it's eat-all-you-want for free. The buffet is merely decent with pretty good meats, no lines and average desserts. After almost 48 hours without fruit or vegetables, however, Matt, Robert and Stinky thought they had entered some sort of mystical paradise. They had completely forgotten what fresh foods tasted like.
Robert is normally the kind of guy that will eat a cow before you can even cook it. That's how much he loves large slabs of meat. But his tummy was still aching from the rancid hot dog, and he filled a record three plates with gut-cleansing salad, before he got around to his usual five plates of beef, pork and chicken.
Throughout dinner, Robert yammered about how each item on the table had a "functional equivalent of eggs". He never clarified what this meant, but for those of you that understand, he figured the cling peaches had the functional equivalent of three eggs, the salad dressing had the equivalent of one, and the desserts were the functional equivalent of 2/3 of an egg.
At the Boulder Station buffet, a waitress brings drinks and clears tables, so a tip is in order. Stinky layed out $0.75, Matt and Robert chipped in too, but Stinky had to squeeze it out of them with a little blood.
As our sated protagonists strolled out of the casino and into the parking lot, rubbing their full and bulging tummies (like the hard-boiled egg scene in "Cool Hand Luke"), Robert spotted the bus that would return them to downtown as it pulled up to a stop 500 feet ahead. He didn't think they could make it, but Matt revved them up by yelling, "We can do it, you pussies!" and taking off. As Stinky ran for the bus he lost four pennies out of his coat pocket, and almost stopped to pick them up, even if it meant waiting another half-hour for the next bus.
Lady Lucky smiled upon them, though, in the form of a stumbling drunk taking his time getting off the bus. The motorcoach stood idle just long enough for the three of them to get there, albeit out of breath. Robert and Stinky, like the slickest of con-men, flashed their expired transfers, but the driver inspected Matt's and made him pay another dollar.
They sat in the back with the cool kids, one of whom was a prostitute. Somehow all of Hollywood's images of high-class, heart-of-gold hookers come crashing down when you see one taking the bus to her evening shift.
Back in the Gold Spike, Matt, Robert and Stinky took some time to rest up for alt.vacation.las-vegas' most anticipated, swankiest, and quite possibly greatest ever public event, "The Gold Spike Cocktail Soiree."
At 8 p.m. sharp, they headed downstairs and took up their positions at the small, poorly ventilated bar, ready to greet the honored guests. The first arrival was Jack McGee, looking sharp and well-rested from the pampering he was receiving care of Caesars Palace. Next came Sam D. and his friend Patti. Then Eric Simandl and his wife showed up. Ted came in and was spotted immediately as the only person in the casino who could possibly be a guitarist for Queensryche. Billhere arrived fashionably late, but filled to the brim with piss and vinegar. Once all attendees had been introduced, the gang partook of $.50 watery well drinks and detailed some of their adventures up to that point. Jack didn't enjoy being at Caesars because it's a long walk from anywhere other than Caesars. Sam was staying at Main Street Station and was enjoying it. Sharon had seven or so comped room nights all over town. Ted tried to sell everyone debt consolidation loans, saying at one point, "That's the beauty of it. You don't even need to be in debt and we can work something out." Eric came in from Negaunee, and his wife didn't like the Gold Spike very much. Billhere thought somebody or other was a cocksucker.
Matt, Robert and Stinky basked in the abundance of suggestions to remain under their $19/day budget. Everyone chimed in with at least one possible cheap meal or free form of entertainment. Billhere even proposed the three young men get arrested so they could spend a free night in jail.
After some time comparing notes and getting to know one another, Patti sat down to try her luck on a nearby nickel poker machine. In the hurdy-gurdy excitement and confusion, a woman who had clearly run out of her own nickels was mistaken for one of the group, and managed to pilfer some of Patti's coins while distracting Patti by engaging her in some rousing Christmas carols. Of course, in the spirit of the evening, this mild trespass was overlooked.
The jolly caroler, who by this time the group had determined was a little crazy, a lot drunk, or perhaps a combination of both, proceeded to visit with each member of the group. With her reluctant husband in tow, she doled out holiday cheer in the form of well-wishes, sometimes accompanied by hugs, sometimes (for the lucky few, like Stinky) by hugs and kisses. She saved the best, however, for Matt. In a flurry of near-gibberish, she either offered to give him money, or to show him her breasts. Nobody cou
The main event of the evening, though, was the Penny Invitational. Everyone agreed to get $.50 in pennies and play for five minutes in the Spike's "Copper Mine" of penny video poker and slot machines. The person who ended up with the most credits after the five minutes was entitled to whatever was left of everyone's original $.50, along with any credits the other players had amassed. The Spike's regular penny players are a pretty serious bunch, and don't take kindly to exhibitions of revelry. So as Billhere noisily counted down the five minutes and Ted shouted out advice at random, some grumbles could be heard from the surrounding machines. The tension really built to a head when a security guard had to be called in to warn the competitors that they had better, "keep it down, people are trying to shrink from their miserable lives in peace here." Stinky ended up the winner, with $1.20 in credits. In total, he walked away with $1.65.
(A detail on the $19/day budget. Because nobody can assume to win money gambling, every cent gambled came out of the budget and could not be replaced. Any winnings could only be spent on more gamblings, but not on food, lodging or transportation. So, in the penny tournament, Stinky bought $0.50 in pennies, but only spent five of them before hitting a jackpot. Therefore, his budget only went down by five cents. Matt and Robert squandered their entire $0.50 bankrolls in a vain attempt to catch Stinky.)
Afterwards, the remaining newsgroupers retired upstairs in Matt's, Robert's and Stinky's comfortable quarters where the boys were caught red handed washing their socks with toilet water. Most would think, considering the budget, that the boys would have brought enough clothing to last all four days, but that's why they say that hindsight is 20/20. The gang discussed the merits of the room which had been made a little too fancy for Stinky's tastes, but clearly impressed most of our guests. The boys heard, more than once, "This room costs only $22? I can't believe it."
Presumably to lord their big, high-roller bankrolls over our heads, the large budgeted of the group suggested that everyone adjourn to the Golden Gate, where Billhere, Ted, Jack and Sam D. loaded up on $0.99 shrimp cocktail and some pretty tasty looking sandwiches. Robert came the closest to breaking down and having a meal, but settled on a couple of packets of saltine crackers for $.05 apiece. In the Gate's deli, Billhere tried to hook Robert and Stinky up with some young fillies from Florida, but their hearts were still pining for the Plaza beauties, and Robert was too busy trying to get someone to let him lick an empty shrimp cocktail dish.
Matt, Robert and Stinky stopped by the change booth for another deck of cards, and then everyone headed back to the Gold Spike for a photo. Billhere pulled his fire engine red 1996 Corvette up on the sidewalk in front of the casino entrance. In all likelihood, this could have brought plenty of business into the place, but somehow security didn't see an opportunity, they only saw an infraction of some outdated "law" regarding parking on a sidewalk.
The second appearance of Spike security worried the boys. Perhaps they would not be allowed back up to their room since the same security guard that told billhere to move the 'Vette was the same one that would see them going upstairs. After a couple of quick photos, everyone reluctantly said good-bye to some fine new friends, all of whom had been tuckered out by the whirlwind of excitement that was "The Gold Spike Cocktail Soiree."
Of course, Matt, Robert and Stinky had gone all day without seeing the girls, but that just helped to ease the pain of losing them. Now, they were looking forward to never seeing the girls again, so they couldn't burn a permanent hole of love in their minds.
Free crap they got: Deck of cards at Golden Gate; Buffet at Boulder Station (the South Strip is a barren wasteland for freebies).