PART 2 -
Too Cool For School
Caesars Palace sends me room discounts about once a month,
sometimes with free crap attached. I'm not sure if they realize
they have spent more on mailers than I have dropped in their
Roman Empire, but they continue to be very generous in their
attempts to turn me into a big loser. Last month they sent me
an offer for two free tickets to some musical with a lot of old
music sung with lots of high-kicking energy. At the slot club
booth, I explained my allergic reaction to Broadway-style music
and traded the tickets for two passes to the Paladium buffet.
Stinky and I aren't used to getting free meals in places like
Caesars Palace. Well, we aren't used to getting them without
having to run really fast right afterward. It's understandable,
then, that we couldn't resist bragging a bit.
"Let's tell that lady," Stinky would say as he pointed
to an elderly woman playing a dollar slot. We'd walk over and
Stinky would hold up the comp then tell her if she wanted anything
to ask us. "We know Caesar."
"Well, really we're better friends with Cleopatra. We're
the ones who convinced her to show her boobies on that barge."
At the buffet we handed the cashier the comp and she stared
at it. I thought for sure we were busted, but she said, "You
know, I haven't seen one of these in two days."
"That's because the lady who gave it to us said the buffet
was awful," Stinky suggested.
"Who said that?" the cashier demanded as her face
turned crimson. "You give me her name. What did she look
We felt stupid, like we had just made another dumb bomb joke
in the airport, and Stinky quickly retracted his comment.
Relaxing just a little, the lady said, "That's right,
because when you leave here you'll be shouting-" and she
really did shout, so loud that slot players turned around
"MMMM! THAT WAS SO GOOD! THAT DAMN CASHIER WAS RIGHT!"
Well, the breakfast was not worth shouting about. In fact,
the small selection of average breads, eggs and meats only made
me say "Feh," and I said it quietly. On the way out,
though, the cashier saw us.
"Huh?" she asked, nodding, "Huh?"
Mark reluctantly said, "You're right, that was good."
"What about the damn cashier?" she prodded.
"Um, the damn cashier was right."
"SHOUT IT! LET ME HEAR YOU!"
We walked really fast, and the cashier's voice finally faded
away about the time the parking garage elevator reached the fourth
Our game plan after breakfast was to check out some off-Strip
properties that we had previously not covered, and then meet
the infamous Lethargio, Bob Black, at the posh Desert Inn, to
survey the rock star-style damage he had done to his room.
it up before the depressing Vacation Village.
We drove out to another posh property, the Regent Las Vegas,
and steeled ourselves for the dirty looks we always get whenever
we choose to mingle with the rich and fabulous. The Regent hadn't
changed much other than their name since our last visit. It was
still elegant, pretentious, and almost completely empty.
While Matt went in search of a poker room, I found the sports
book and sat in one of the wildly comfortable chairs to take
some notes. The room felt like the study of some snooty professor,
all covered in dark cherry wood paneling and filled to the brim
with leather chairs and the faint whiff of cigar smoke.
Next up we hit the Fiesta. Their sports book was surprisingly
nice. The chairs, made of fake leather, are like those found
in a pretty upscale office, making it a perfect place to really
hunker down for some serious sports watching. You could sit there
for eight hours a day and still not have a sore lower back or
get carpal tunnel syndrome.
On the way back to town, we stopped off at the Santa Fe, the
home of the Western High School prom. I wandered around the pleasantly
cool ice-skating rink, looking for a little trouble with some
youth hockey players. To my disappointment, all I found were
precocious girls in figure skates. I didn't want to tussle with
them, not because of some sense of chivalry or decency, but because
I've found those spoiled youngsters can be quite vicious. I would
have to stick to punching Matt in the arm for releasing my pent-up
aggression that day.
By the time we had returned to the Stardust, changed into
our swimming trunks and walked over to the DI, we figured Bob
would have chucked at least the TV, and possibly a mattress out
Lethargio had checked in early to the deluxe room he was sharing
with Burt Cohen, who apparently is comped at the hotel based
on the fact that he goes around using its old owner's name. We
entered the beautiful, quiet and almost completely empty casino
and used the house phone to call Bob's room.
It took Bob ten minutes to get down to the casino. God knows
what he was doing; maybe removing the springs from a bed to make
room for a dead hooker or applying skintone makeup to the gash
in his side where the organ thieves had removed his kidney. While
we waited, we gravitated to the only activity in the joint; the
craps table. A gaggle of executives in shirtsleeves were huddled
around it, throwing around black and purple chips like Stinky
and I throw around scabs and flakes of dead skin. The table was
hot and the bigshots were pressing their already big bets after
every throw of the dice. One jerky acting hotshot kept pressing
his points until he had over a thousand dollars on every one
Stinky and I were amazed by the tens of thousands of dollars
out there. Being timid, I stood back, remembering the bloodshed
I saw on Fox's "When Executives Attack." But Stinky
doesn't get the Fox channel so well and he inched closer to the
table. He stood with his chin over the shoulder of the highest
roller. The man flicked his head back, as though Stinky were
a mote in his vision.
The point was hit and the executives high-fived each other,
as happy as if they had just bankrupted a small family operation.
Stinky put his hand up to get his share of the fives, but nobody
responded. Play stopped as the dealers paid off all the bets,
and Stinky spoke to the fat cat.
"You know, I bet you can get a free buffet."
"Huh?" said the man.
"If you bet a lot of money, like that," Stinky pointed
to the tall stacks of black and purple on the felt, "sometimes
they'll give you a free buffet. I'm sort of an expert on this
"I don't want a buffet," he snorted.
"Oh," Stinky's eyes lit up, "can I have it?"
The executive turned and glared at Stinky. His eyes were squinted
in rage, the same look I saw in that Fox special, and he raised
a clenched fist.
"Mr. Weatherford, Mr. Sinclair." It was Bob Black
approaching. He wore a wife-beater, Speedos and flip-flops with
panache. His pasty white legs and the sparse curly hair peeking
out of the two-sizes-too-small baby blue trunks distracted the
rich guy just long enough for me to pull Stinky away.
We went upstairs to survey the damage that our trouble-making
friend had done. To our disappointment, we found that the worst
he had come up with was a few butts smoked on a non-smoking floor,
and a couple of well-worn Maxim magazines spread about the room,
open to the pages with the hottest, most scantily-clad babes.
We chalked his behavior up to the mellowing effect of the anticipated
arrival of his lady friend.
The room, other than the lingering cigarette smoke, was not
quite what I had pictured when I dreamed of the Desert Inn. I
had imagined that each room would resemble the palatial foyer
Al Pacino used for his massive killing spree in Scarface, minus
all the blood, of course (unless Burt and Lethargio were sharing
a room). Instead of marble staircases and water-spitting fountains,
I found a comfortable, well-appointed, but basically simple room
with a bang-up view of the Strip and the mountains in the distance.
We headed out to the swimming pool, an elegant series of lagoons
surrounded by lush landscaping and fake rocks. Bad soft eighties
hits by Aimee Mann and the Thompson Twins, the choice of today's
Fortune 500 CEOs, wafted out of speakers that were cunningly
designed to look like boulders. These "singing rocks"
had me confused for about a half-hour of crawling around, looking
under bushes, until I figured it out. Don't let them fool you.
Matt engage in a vicious splash fight.
On this Thursday afternoon the pools quiet. There were about
15 people, mostly men fat on the rewards of the capitalist system,
in slacks and shirts with rolled up sleeves. They had their Wall
Street Journals and their strong cocktails and were soaking in
the sun. We staked out three poolside lounges, dumped our stuff,
and plunged into the water. The water was cool, and so were we.
The executives were shocked by our youthful display of using
the pool for swimming, not as a backdrop for making more money.
We didn't swim much, but we got in a good amount of horseplay
and playing grab-ass. The pool had a mini-basketball and water-borne
hoop, which we used. Eventually, that devolved into trying to
hit each other as hard as we could with the ball. I know this
wasn't cool, but sometimes nothing feels better than whacking
someone with a rubber ball.
"How's the water, gentlemen?" asked a man in a pair
of Bostonians, gray wool slacks and a pink oxford shirt. We were
busted, I was sure of it. He went on to tell us he was the lifeguard
and if we needed anything to let him know. He then returned to
reading his paper and sipping a Manhattan.
Earlier in the day, I had noticed that Roxy's Pizza at the
Fiesta would be showing silent films, accompanied by the giant
pipe organ. If there's anything that screams cool more than a
pipe organ, I haven't found it. Pipe organs attract chicks like
water attracts ducks, or stagnant water attracts mosquitos. We
arranged to meet Feldy at the designated dining hour, and then
showed up just late enough to make him wonder if we weren't living
the good life.
The pipe organ includes about 200 pipes, a complete drum set,
various other percussive instruments, and even trumpets. It takes
up an entire wall of the restaurant, and then some. The keyboard
rises up from beneath the stage like the Phantom of the Opera,
and controls the whole shebang, including the lights. While we
waited for our pizza, we ate as much as we could from the salad
bar, stuffed some Romaine down our pants for later, and watched
Buster Keaton run around and fall over a whole lot. The organist
The brick-oven pizza tasted plenty good, and a chubby kid
had his dreams come true when the organist wished him a happy
birthday. I was pretty impressed that the kid was having such
a good time eating pizza and watching million-year-old movies,
without a video game in sight.
We speculated about the contents of the kid's loot. Feldy
was especially fascinated by a tall box leaned against the table.
He got that look in his eye. It's the one he gets right before
he spirits away a little boy's BB Gun or slot-car track. But,
as Feldy explained, it's not because he desires the toys for
himself, it's because he loves to see children cry. We quickly
finished up our meal and rushed out of there before Dave could
slip the kid a mickey.
Afterward, we headed over to the Sahara to catch the lounge
act and meet up with Lethargio, Burt and their lady friends.
While waiting for Lethargio, Burt and their alleged dates,
the Sahara's dollar blackjack table quickly buzzsawed through
Stinky, Feldy and my gambling budgets. We retreated to the loud
Casbar lounge and watched an insane band named "Area 51."
I'm pretty sure this band played music, but mostly all I remember
is the lead singer talking about a "mother ship" while
lights flashed and a machine pumped out more smoke than Bob's
Burt and Karen, Lethargio and Anica finally arrived about
an hour after we had agreed upon. I don't know where they hell
they were but I bet they thought it was cool to leave us hanging.
In my world, there is no excuse for being this late. Three minutes
is cool, five is "edgy," but an hour is out of the
question. In my world it is fashionable to be five minutes early,
carry plenty of sharpened pencils and to carry your wallet in
your front pocket, where pickpockets can't get it. Needless to
say, Burt and Bob had no pencils and their wallets bulged invitingly
on their asses. I would have loved to spend some time scolding
them, but it was time to pick up my wife Amy at the airport.
Lethargio enjoy being men.
My last words to the four of them were: "Look, I'm going
to chew you guys out, but we're in a hurry, so meet us at the
Reserve in an hour and I'll tear you all new assholes."
I figured they would meet us out there, if not for the berating,
then for the kooky jungle ambience.
We then rushed to the airport and met my wife, who was stepping
out of the gate just as we walked up. She was on time and, as
I have taught her to do, she had plenty of sharpened pencils.
We threw her bag in the car and cut across the Valley to the
Reserve, where we were to meet other friends Steve, Phil and
Ghizal at the rumored-to-exist quarter craps game.
To our dismay, there was no quarter game, but before we could
start busting the joint up, Matt noticed a few one-dollar blackjack
tables. Feldy scooted off to plunk quarters into machines, while
we sat down for a little green felt action.
Our dealer, Dee, was either very easily amused or drunk out
of her skull, because she chuckled at some of our inane chatter.
Normally, only the nicest dealers endure our lame jokes with
a forced smile, and the rest start dealing from the bottom of
the deck. But Dee loved every minute of our witty repartee. Matt
and I were so pleased because, as far as we could tell, she wasn't
mentally retarded or a thirteen-year-old boy, the two groups
who make up most of our fan club. Could it be our humor was becoming
more sophisticated? Soon Dee went from chuckles to guffaws, her
cheeks turning red.
To add to the joy of the game, we were actually winning. Not
enough to buy new cars, but enough to buy new car deodorizers
for the rearview mirror. The pit boss tried to shut down our
hot streak by moving us to a new table and switching dealers.
It was probably a good thing for Dee, because she looked just
about ready to pee her pants from laughing so much.
About two a.m., Feldy wandered back to the tables and played
a few hands with us. Eventually, the money started running out
and our eyes drooped. Ghizal, Phil and Steve finally wandered
in, seven hours after they had left the Big Empire compound in
Southern California. But, we were beat and left them to their
own devices, as well as hundreds of slot devices supplied by
the Reserve. Burt and Lethargio never did show up to receive
a browbeating from Matt.
to Part 3