Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
Comrade and I have known, almost since we first met, that we are going to get married. I think, at this point, both his parents and mine also know that we are certainly getting married eventually. And, since we somewhat quickly decided we were going to Vegas, neither set of parents stopped asking us all week if we were married yet.
We are not married yet, and have made it out of Vegas unmarried. That was never the plan. And this vacation was meticulously planned (aside from Thursday, but that entire day didn't exist, remember).
The problem with planning is that there are things you can never take into account (but, no, this post does not involve marriage of us or anyone else). For instance, we never got to see the fucken flamingos. Not a single pink feather showed itself despite Comrade dressing head to toe (and I mean Head To Toe ... he bought a flapping flamingo hat on our first night in town, and I designed him flamingo shoes before the pandemic started) in flamingo wear. We never got to see the flamingos. The only feathers were the razors in the horrid pillows that I will happily never sleep on again.
Our plan was to meet some poet friends on Thursday. Unfortunately, Thursday, remember, Never Existed. So we decided Monday would be a real day, and we'd shoot for that. In the untilwhile was The Weekend. (Also, The Weeknd, and Everybody's Working For The.) I know there were adventures. I was there. But what did we ---
I love pools (yea, yea, yea, hot tubs). Whenever I vacation, I go somewhere with a pool. Last October, the pool in the house we rented was Infested with colonies of ants on strike. They floated in massive islands of floating corpses. It was impossible to rid the pool of them. So we didn't swim as much as I'd hoped.
I'd wanted to swim at the Adults Only pool at our casino on Thursday. It's not an ADULTS pool. You have to wear a bathing suit. But no one under 21 is allowed. I'm not sure why. The pool is less than four feet deep, and filled mainly with White People drinking White Claw and bopping their heads to songs with lyrics they should never sing along to. I find a good rule of thumb to see if there is Institutional Racism afoot at your party is Are There More N Words In Your Music Than There Are People Of Color At Your Party? If the answer is yes, maybe your party is not very inclusive.
We'd spent a great deal of time in line for the pool behind a gay couple in love with Comrade's flamingo outfit (he did not wear the hat to the pool, but the shirt, the shorts, the socks, and the shoes were present), but were angry when they were told they could not bring their "expensive" new vape into the pool grounds.
We snuck past them while they griped, grabbed some towels, and found the only two empty chaise lounges in the whole pool area. Comrade did his crossword puzzle while I, UNHOLY GODFUCKERS, dipped into the pool.
Apparently, when you don't have children to pee in your pools, they are Very Cold.
I took Pool Duck out of my pocket, and attempted to take a picture of him but he does Not Float Well. He does squirt well, though, so when Comrade entered the SHITBALLS OF BEN & JERRY pool, I squirted him with Pool Duck, and swam away.
Because the scene was Not Ours, we did a minimal amount of dancing (To The Windows....To The Walls) in the pool, decided to stay there at least as long as we'd been in line to get in, and then grabbed our towels and headed back to our room.
Other things happened. I'm sure of it. We had pizza for dinner, and I spent the night writing.
On Monday, we got up Comrade Late, which is impressively afternoon. We were too late for Der Nasty Egg (aka EggSlut), so we ended up getting really mediocre sandwiches at a sandwich place which I won't name, since part of the problem is I ordered the sandwich a way they wouldn't normally have prepared it, so it's mediocrity was My Fault.
Then we grabbed a Lyft back downtown.
You've noticed a distinct lack of gambling. I don't do it. Comrade wanted to it once. Start with somewhere between $20 and $100 and stop at Zero or Millionnaire Status.
No slot machines, though. Poker or Blackjack. Something that requires work and skill. Instead, we played Vending Machine Slots, and we Won. For $5, I bought a random Sock Pack that turned out to be Flamingo Socks. So we Won At Gambling. I took some pictures of Jackpot Duck in an art garden, and then my poet friends showed up.
Dinner was a blast. Poets are Great Poets and Great People, still. Our service was, um, well, Comrade and I are cursed, remember. But we had a decent meal at the bar where the Great Poets met, and talked for a couple of hours. It was glorious. You really should have been there.
Then, the other gamble. As I've mentioned Several Times, I don't like burlesque, but acknowledge that much of that is I haven't been exposed (ha, ha) to professionals, but some experimental amateur stuff that varied from Probably Promising Somewhere Down The Line to Vision Is Overrated.
One of my friends, who serves as a sort of Las Vegas Entertainment Ambassador, as well as a few other friends, suggested that we see a show called Absinthe. I balked. We'd done a lot of touristy things and while the museums were fun, the shows we'd chosen weren't for us. Comrade continues to be amused by how much I fucken hated that Beatles Cirque Du Soleil show, even though the acrobatics were astounding. I just enjoy either a story or No Story and their idea of narrative storytelling was middle school pageant garbage. But with beautiful acrobatics.
Still, The Ambassador was adamant we'd like it, and arranged for us to get comp tickets. It was only a 90 minute show, and it was in a tent across the street from The Flamingo. I figured it couldn't be As Bad as The Beatles.
Thank you, Ambassador. Absinthe was, along with the Neon Museum Main Tour, and Omega Mart, one of the absolute highlights of the trip for me. For Comrade, it was tied for first with the random woman who put her hand in front of his face and yelled "FUCK OFF, SKANK!" because she was either on or off a necessary medication. I don't know why that brought him such pleasure.
I'm pretty sure the emcee for Absinthe was not the usual person. His was not the face on any of the press I saw, but Hell's Jello Salad he was amazing. He was dressed and talked like the carnival barker who used to co-own a comic book store I used to work at. Only instead of being exhaustin....actually, he was The Same Exhausting, but in the context of the show, it was great. His assistant, Wanda Wheels was like a filthy Psychic Tanya from the Amazing Johnathan show. They were perfect.
The acrobatics were really on par with Cirque Du Soleil, except they were 1-3 performers at a time, instead of a dizzying and unwatchable amount of people distracting you. The narrative was spare but perfect. Yea, there was burlesque dancing. There was a couple who performed amazing roller skate acrobatics, there were three jugglers who were better than most juggling acts I've seen, there was a perfect pole dance artist who didn't even bother to set up a character because she had such presence that she didn't need to speak or have a complicated intro, she just dazzled, there was a chair stunt at the beginning of the show, and a fair amount of people contorting themselves while hanging in the air. The highlights for me were the German hula hoop guy who had no lines but exuded joy and hulaed the hell out of dozens of hoops, the Polish balancing act who morphed from a very different role to a homoerotic contortionist pair where the focus was contortion not humor. I also enjoyed the host and Wanda's banter. In particular, Wanda went on a long rant about the filthy things she was going to do the mother of someone in the audience, only to be interrupted by the host who asked the audience member about his mother who, of course, was dead. "It was sweet to think of her, though." Wanda deapanned. "Happy Mother's Day."
There were also many audience interaction bits that bordered on or widely stepped over Offensiveness. Some things I would have crafted differently, but it mostly punched up, and the character being misogynist and homophobic at points fit with the rest of his personality. And most of it made me laugh, as it was intended. So it was easily the best Show we saw. We got back to our room, talked about it for a bit, and then packed for our Tuesday night flight.
We got up Tuesday earlyish, stored our luggage for the day, and wandered back to Der Nasty E...EggSlut. Still as good the second time. We caught some Pokemon. Then we hit The Saddest Capitalist Portion Of The Trip. The M&M Store, where you can spend too much money making your own assortment of mediocre chocolate that all tastes the same no matter what color it is, anyway. We didn't buy anything.
Then, the Coca Cola store.
Long time readers might remember that Twice, I've gone to the Coca Cola in Disney Springs. Once downed the alcoholic flight of Coke drinks, and once downed the non-alcoholic. I ordered the non-alcoholic one (I'm not sure they sell the alcoholic one in Vegas) to split with Comrade, and we sat by the window and did Everything Wrong.
A Coca Cola Flight is two trays, each containing twelve quadruple shots of various International Coca Cola flavors. If you do it (don't do it), start with Tray #2, which is mostly terrible, and end on Tray #1, which is at worst bland, but often good.
Tray 1 starts with I Don't Remember, and winds its way to That Was Pretty Good. Tray 2 starts with Beverly (actually, its name) which tastes like someone juiced a Christmas Tree Air Freshener, stopping occasionally to spit in it. It's followed by something that tastes like cherry mouthwash, which is actually a Welcome Change despite it being otherwise awful. The third drink is a cucumber soda that really does wash away the terrible taste of the first two. It's not good, it's just cleansing. Then there are various okay to mediocre flavors until you hit the end.
Sour Plum Cola tastes like someone is peeing barbecue sauce into your mouth. I can not, for the life of me, understand why they'd inflict this on people who Gave Them Money To Enjoy Themselves. If you have to drink it because you're at gunpoint or you need to atone for accidentally tossing someone's grandmother into an angry nest of Murder Hornets , do it all in one gulp. DO NOT SIP SOUR PLUM COLA, you will vomit.
We stumbled our way to The Venetian, which we'd been meaning to get to. Along the way, people tried to sell us their CDs (who stil has a CD player in 2022?), complimented our shirts, and that one aforementioned woman called Comrade a skank for some reason.
Our plan had been to do the gondolas. I expected it to be Disney ride cheesy, but it actually just looked sad. Want to ride a gondola down a fake canal in the middle of a strip mall designed to look like a generic town in Europe (seriously, if you can tell the difference between Las Vegas's Venice, and their Paris you deserve some sort of degree). We decided to just go to a food court, put something in our bodies that wasn't carbonated garbage water, and then go back to the Flamingo and charge our phones.
Instead, we headed to the airport early, charged our phones there. And then grabbed something to eat. We went to a nothing bar place with eight food items, somewhat akin to the terrible place in JFK. But they had lobster bisque on the menu. I'm a sucker for it. Most place serve you a cream and sherry concoction, whisper the word "lobster" over the top, and send it out of the kitchen. There were Huge Chunks of lobster in my bisque. I was shocked. My salad was just a salad, and Comrade's pizza was just a pizza, but that bisque, while not some five star dazzling bowl was the second biggest positive surprise of the trip, after Absinthe.
We paid our check just in time to board our flight, and y'all there was no third person in our row. We put Comrade's bag on the empty seat, and my bag under the empty seat, and we both have legroom, and neck pillows (seriously, these stupid neck pillows are more comfortable than seagull feather pillows at The Flamingo), and the wifi is free, which is why I prefer JetBlue to American, whom we had to fly on the way to Vegas for some reason.
All in all this was a fun vacation, and the first one I've taken without poet friends in this millenium. While I would have enjoyed their company, and I still believe that renting a house is cheaper and more fun than staying at a hotel or casino, I'm glad we did this. And that we Did Not get married while we were there.
You know how much I hate cliches.
I spent my thirties distrustful of Open Relationships. Mainly because the people I knew who had them never seemed happy. Most of them either divorced or separated. People freaked out when unexpected pregnancies occured where the paternity was questionable. People got mad because an Open But Don't Tell Me Partner would violate that rule. Things like that.
The worst, of course, was Zuzu and her husband. Twenty-something years of an open marriage fell apart when he had unprotected sex in a Jacuzzi (has anything good Ever Happened in a hot tub?) and got a stranger pregnant. His solution was that they would be some sort of Sister Wives thing and all live in the same house and raise kids together. He was kicked out of the house almost immediately and they never reconciled. But he was the one who called me and let me know Zuzu had been found dead in her house. Nothing more violent than cancer. But I hadn't know she had cancer, as she'd received her diagnosis while I was in a coma. And we hadn't spoken for three or four years before that. Our open friendship had deteriorated as she grew more and more venemous towards the people I cared about.
As this played out, another friend broke up with his primary partner when she got pregnant from another man. Only to find out a few years later, it Was his child but his partner wanted to raise the baby with someone else.
Shit is messy, y'all.
But I'm in my mid-forties now. I have been with more than my and your, and all our mutual friends' fair share of guys ranging from homophobically straight to offensively stereotypically gay, and everywhere inbetween.
I am Comrade's first boyfriend.
Fear not, this isn't a sad breakup story. Or a happy one. Calm down. OUR open relationship works great for us. We've lived together almost since we met. Every few months, Comrade goes on walkabout. It's pretty much building his own Insafemode Journals. I have never feared he was going to leave me for any of the men he's met. I know gay men. Most of us are garbage. We are Very Lucky together.
I also have permission to walkabout. But my legs are So Tired.
In Florida, last fall, we tried to set up some sort of threesome situation but we aren't interested in the same type of guy, which is obvious to anyone who's ever seen a picture of us. So nothing happened.
We each talked to some potential partners. As you might imagine, the skinny, effervescent, twenty something year old gets more messages than the exhausted, overweight middle aged guy who hates everyone. But the percentage of messages that we receive that we are interested in are very similar.
While Comrade anded up meeting some photographer who was nice and respectful until he was creepy (his story to tell, not mine), I met someone I'd been talking with for a few days. A chill guy in his thirties who was on vacation at Disney with his partner. They had a similar open relationship. He'd been skittish about us meeting at the house Comrade and I had rented but eventually relented.
It was a tired trope when I was writing the Insafemode journals: His picture was ten or fifteen years old. For me, it doesn't matter how attractive you are. If you are so terrified of what you look like that you have to send fake or antique pictures, I don't feel comfortable even spending time with you, nevermind pursuing any sort of emotional or physical relationship. I let him have a sandwich (we had too many groceries) and then told him he had to go.
That was in October. Since then, I haven't had the urge to meet anyone outside of our relationship.
Grindr is hilarious to me. I keep thinking back to when Ben invited me over for dinner one night in Allston, and showed me his OK Cupid matches. There were none.
"I've blocked EVERY gay guy in Boston." He bragged, fluffing his hair. "No one is good enough for me."
This was patently untrue. But funny.
I haven't blocked Everyone on Grindr but it is the thing I do The Most. Does a person's profile mention they wouldn't be interested in someone my age or size? Blocked. Why should I bother them? Does someone send me an unrpovoked naked picture or demand one from me? Blocked. Is someone just not my type? Blocked. Is someone aggressive or problematic? Blocked. Does someone have an incompatible kink? Blocked. There are so many great reasons not to waste my time trying to get laid. #1 is ... Comrade.
I had no plans to do any sexual adventuring in Vegas, but we did decide to check for possible threesomes in Vegas, as there's a wider age spectrum here than in, say, Orlando. (We are not going to try it out close to home.)
Nobody that was interested in us particularly sparked mutuality. But.
It's been, what, a decade since I regularly updated The Insafemode Journals? But there are people out there who read them regularly and remember them. People who saw pictures of me that I posted for Coming Out Day or other events. Maybe once or twice a year, I get a message from someone who recognizes me. And such a thing happened in Vegas.
Their opening message was unspectacular. Inoffensive. Fully clothed. Just a mention that I looked familiar. Which was funny to me because they looked familiar to me, too. But I knew why. They were in porn. Not a porn star. But someone who was in a couple of videos that were from a studio that amused me. Not aroused me. Amused me. The acting was terrible. The storylines were Awful. The camera angles were weird. His accent was spectacular. He could have been from the Midwest, Florida, Boston, England. His speech pattern needed a passport wherever he was.
So I told him that I used to have a sex blog, and he admitted to having some videos and asked if I wanted a link. I declined. But we decided to meet up. I wasn't quite sure sex was going to happen. I had seen his porn many years to a decade ago, and his pictures look freakishly similar. I just expected him to look as different from his 2012 self as I do.
We agreed to meet at the resort he was staying at at 9pm, while Comrade was going to have dinner with someone else. The thing was, this porn guy, Carter, was staying at Harrah's. I fucken hate Harrah's. Their signage is terrible. None of their employees know where anything is. And it was just as shut down as our casino because of the stupid the NFL Draft. But it was where he was staying, so I headed over there at 8:30, even though it was a 5-10 minute stroll.
I texted him that I was on my way, and was unsurprised when he wrote back that he'd be late. I wondered if he was having second thoughts. My shitty sense of self kept thinking "I'm not his type at all. I'm way too old, fat, boring, etc. for this kinky porn star." But, like, many of his partners in those videos were Older Then than me Now. And he is also ten years older than he was in those videos, so Shut Up Self.
I sat down at a bar near where we were supposed to meet. I ordered a soda but tipped like I bought a real drink, which caught the attention of the bartender.
"Do you work around here?" He asked.
"No. Boston. But I'm industry."
He nodded. "Ok. Well, thanks." and then he turned his attention to a Very Drunk woman who wanted to find the "valley", which I'm pretty sure meant "valet".
"Oh, it's..." he waved in a direction.
"NO NONO NO NO NO." Drunk Lady scolded. "None of you know where Anything is. Just walk me there."
"But I---" he looked around the bar, there were four customers and two bartenders. "Sure. I'll help you."
I put down another couple of bucks. Because fuck that particular casino. He was too nice to work there.
"Adam?" I heard.
"Oh, hey Carter." I said, getting up. "Good to see you."
"Likewise." he said. His voice was the same as in the videos. I had assumed that was a fake accent. Whoof.
He was wearing a cast on his right arm.
"What happened?" I asked, pointing to it.
"Oh, I just had surgery. Glass." As though that explained anything.
"Oh? Car accident? Walk into a sliding glass door?" I asked.
"I forgot." He sighed. "You're a writer. It's just glass."
Long, awkward pause of doom.
"What have you done so far in Vegas?"
"Oh." I said. "We went to the neon museum, Area 15 and Omega Mart, we saw The Beatlles Cirque Du Soleil show.--"
"Was that any good?" He asked. "I saw the Michael Jackson show last night, and I had No Idea what was happening. The plot was, I don't know. Maybe I'm just too stupid for theater."
"Noooooo." I said. "The Beatles show had some connecting scenes but it made No Sense most of the time."
"Did your partner like it?"
"He thought it was okay." I said. "But he didn't love it, either."
"How old is he?" I was not expecting to be asked.
"So you're sugar daddying."
I frowned. "No. We each have our own jobs and share of the finances. I can't afford to be anyone's sugar daddy."
"But you're in Vegas." he said.
"So are you. And you're on a floor so high you have to have a special card and elevator access to get there."
He almost smiled. "The view is pretty nice. Oh, don't judge the room. I'm usually military clean but--" he wagged his cast.
"Of course." I said.
He flashed his key at the door. A red light turned on. He flashed his key again. Same red light.
"Fuck. Again?" he said. "I've got to call security again."
"Ok." I said.
I was assuming, at this point, that he wasn't into me, and was using his key on the wrong door. His way of politely getting me to leave. So I started texing Comrade.
Comrade's Meanwhile Story is that the person he'd been texting decided to go to bed but wanted to talk later because .... he is from Boston.
"Hi. This is Carter in room ... Yes. Yea. I got the new key but it doesn't work, either. Could you send someone up? Five to ten minutes? Would it be faster for me to go down there? Yea. Yea. Would I have to wait in line? I don't want to wait in line again. Ok. Five to ten minutes? Ok." He turned to me. "We've got to wait a bit. You're from Boston, right?"
"What happened to your acccent?"
"I broke it." I said "I moved around for a while and it disappeared."
I have never had a Boston accent. I'm from Connecticut and grew up on Cape Cod.
"People always make fun of my accent."
"Where are you from?" I asked.
"Iowa." he said.
"You were going to guess Florida weren't you?"
I shrugged. "Gainesville, specifically."
"That's where my mom's from." he said. "God, what is taking them So Long?"
"It's only been about two minutes." I said. "Didn't they say it would be five to ten?"
He sulked. "I wish they'd stop giving me broken keys."
"Yea." I said. "This place is a steady shitshow."
"I'm going to call them again."
My turn to shrug. "Ok."
"Hi, this is Carter from Room...yes. Do you know when you're going to be able to send someone up? We've been waiting a long time. Do you know how much longer? Should I just go down there? I just don't want to wait in no lines again. It takes so long. No. No. No, don't send a medical team. No, jesus, I'm fine. Ok. Ok. I'll go down. No lines, though, right?"
Every flag in the building was red. His shirt was a red flag. His pants. His shoes. His accent. His impatience. Everything red. Everything flag.
"We've got to go downstairs so I can get a new key."
"Ok." I said, following him into the elevator.
I don't remember what we talked about because I was thinking I should probably just leave. I was beginning to think the accent included some slurring as the effect of a substance. Couldn't place which one, though.
It took less than a minute for him to get the key, and for us to get back in the elevator.
"I don't know why they keep doing this to me? I paid good money, you know? Hotels are expensive here. In Iowa, I can get a room for thirty a night. Nobody visits me but at least nobody's breaking my keys all the time."
We got out of the elevator and walked further down the hallway than we were before. It was 100% a completely different room than he'd tried to get into earlier. "Don't forget." He said. "My arm hurts, so it's a little messy."
I am, at my best, a little messy. Clothes piled in one place, a nightstand covered in chapstick, breath mints, change, and books. A little messy.
This was an addict's room.
Three whiskey bottles that I could see. Clothes everywhere. The TV on some random channel about Las Vegas culture. Both beds absolutely destroyed. Condom wrappers (but not condoms) on the desk. I didn't see any paraphenalia, but I also studiously avoided the bathroom because I was pretty sure that's where it was.
He took off his clothes. "Do you have any condoms?"
This was not quite what I had expected. "No." I said.
"I'll just go back downstairs." and shake my head a bit. "They must have condoms in the little convenience store by the front desk. Should I get lube?"
"I'm allergic to lube." he lied.
"Ok. Can I have your room key? Otherwise, I won't be able to get back up in the elevator."
"Oh. I don't remember where I put my key. Did you see me put it down somewhere? I have this problem where I always lose things."
I shut my eyes. Red flags. "In your pocket?"
He produced two keys. "I don't know which one works."
I plucked them both from his hands. Opened the door, and waved each of them by the door. They both worked, of course. There was never anything wrong with the keys. There was something wrong with the keyholder.
I took the elevator down to the lobby, walked to the convenience store and took a picture of the condom display. "These are all lubricated." I texted. "Is that a problem?"
"Nope." He texted back. "Whatever."
I bought condoms and a soda, took the elevator back up.
He was ass in the air.
"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh. Fuck me dadddddddddddddddddddddddddddddeeeeeee. Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaadeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee."
I Hate Age Play Sex. There is no faster way to kill the mood for me.
"Please don't say that." I said.
"You want to be my coach?"
He turned around and looked at me. "Why are you still wearing clothes? What's the matter, I'm not young enough for you?"
"What?" I asked.
"I get it. I don't look like I'm twelve anymore so none of the fifty year old guys want to fuck me anymore. I should just kill myself."
I threw the condoms on the bed. "You can keep these."
"What, are you just going to go? Can't get it up because I'm so old, Mr. Writer?"
"Here are your keys." I threw them on the bed with the condoms. "Don't lose them."
"Oh, you're going to take care of me now? Don't want to fuck me, you just want to be my daddy?"
I walked out his door. He did not follow.
I texted Comrade. "Well, this went to super shit at the speed of drug addict. Can I come back?"
"Yea." he texted back. "My guy bailed. Guess we'll have to debauch with each other."
"I'm going to need a few minutes."
"Should we meet for ice cream?"
"Yes. That sounds great." I replied.
"Can you at least come back and eat my ass?" Carter texted. "I'm horny and my arms no good."
I blocked his number.
I unblocked his number. I didn't want to be named in a porn not star's suicide note, even if it was just as Insafemode.
Comrade was waiting for me in front of the ice cream/cupcake place. He kissed me Hello. "Waffle cones?"
"Waffle cones." I said.
We were stalled on the runway for twice the duration of our eventual flight from Boston to New York City, and were worried this was somehow going to be emblematic of our trip. Our lastish minute trip. Our We're Both Boosted Against Covid And Need Some Time Away That Doesn't Involve My Family Why Not Just Go To Vegas And Not Gamble Vacation.
The cabin pressurizer was busted, so our ears were all doing a weird pop and lock routine that was going to get real old if it happened for the whole flight. The issue, of course, is connecting flights. We were okay, as we had two and a half hours between our flights, and New York to Vegas isn't some Golden Pheasant that only leaves the nest two or three times a day. But there were people trying to make a connection to Madrid who were ferried off our flight and back into the airport so they could catch a faster flight. Then they were brought back on. Then many of them left again, and then I believe most-to-all of them came back. It wasn't at all interesting but the forty-something guy across the aisle from us kept saying things like "This is the craziest thing I've ever seen. Have you ever seen anything like this? This is insane." I assume it was the first time he ever left the studio apartment he shares with his overprotective mother. He was invested in getting Comrade to agree how bonkers it was that people would try and make a connecting flight but he was ultimately disappointed.
We got to JFK with an hour to spare before our flight, and decided to grab something to eat. But at three pm on a Monday, virtually everything was closed. There was one sad American style cafe that was open but which also had high chairs blocking the entrance. We were about to give up and stay hungry when we were waved in by the single beleaguered server, who tossed us into a booth, and said "You know you don't have to wear your masks in here, right? The time for fear is over. Where are you from? Boston? Don't people in Boston know that Covid is over?"
We did not remove our masks until the food came. The food was exactly the quality I'd expect in a generic airport eatery, which was actually a pleasant surprise. The table next to us boasted four strollers and a couple of parents who looked about ready to start preaching abstinence education in high schools. They kept waving to the oblivious server while their kids fussed but had the decency not to wail or shriek. Their table wasn't cleared by the time we left, and I believe those plates are still there, possibly overseen by one of the couple's abandoned children.
We transitioned from eatery to Getting On The Plane (fuck you, I'm getting IN the plane) flawlessly. The flight was packed. The attendants kept making announcements about not switching seats until everyone was on the plane because the flight was sold out and something something something. I only noticed because, of course, Comrade and I were not quite seated together. Somehow, we had seats B and D, and were prepared to be seperated for the whole flight. Except that nobody ever came for Seat C. So Comrade snoozed next to me while I talked to a very nice British motivational speaker about Covid in England vs Covid in the US, what we liked about Vegas, and other nothings that passed the time.
Our Hugely Stereotypical Flight Attendant announced "Welcome to Vegas, Bitches." as we landed, and then had a horrendously long improv comedy discussion with the middle-aged flight attendants about the differences between their generations. He mentioned that he'd just turn thirty which is Dead Years Old in gay. I've been hearing that ha ha line for at least twenty years now. It never gets better informed or more valid.
We arrived at The Flamingo around 10:30pm. The promised Express Check In Kiosks were all manned (and I mean that, not a single woman, or non-cis robot was behind a desk, they were all white dudes) by Happy Go Customer Service People who were too chatty to be Express Anything. Apart from a quick glance at Comrade and I, and asking if we had the same last name, our assigned white guy was surfacey nice, and warned us that it was NFL Draft weekend. "GO TITANS!" yelled the thirty-five year old meth dealer behind us, fumbling through his tattered Scooby Doo backpack while his either 17 or 50 year old companion scratched at her drug rug. Clearly, the age difference between us was the least interesting thing going on in that check-in line.
In 2003, Steggy and I stayed at Bally's Casino. I remember it being great. In 2014, a bunch of us rented a house that was pretty close to the strip, and very well maintained. The Flamingo is ok. We booked it because there was a special (there is always a special everywhere in Las Vegas), and because Comrade loves flamingos. The flamingos have been absent all week. A sad little pink sign informing us, every day, that due to nebulous reasons we should be satisfied gazing at a bunch of mediocre ducks swimming around a glorified koi pond. Also, their pillows are filled with razor sharpened pigeon quills. Our request for foam pillows was initially met with "Oh, we don't have any extra pillows in the whole casino right now, try again later.", and then we were given pillows that have been in circulation since the casino opened in 1946.
I have been mostly unable to sleep. Comrade hates the pillows but claims I'm "spoiled" because when I buy pillows, I don't pick them off the curb during Allston Christmas, but actually try out pillows that are comfortable and support my neck. I would not recommend staying at The Flamingo, although I'm sure there are worse places.
Before we fell asleep, we went over our plans for the next few days, and confirmed that all four of our parents had been relentlessly asking us if we were going to Vegas to get married. No. But we didn't come here to break up, either.