I wrote this travelogue in 2019
Perhaps it's strange that I enjoy Vegas as much as I do. I don't gamble, I rarely drink alcohol, and I'm not into nightclubs.
But there's something entertaining about being in proximity to wanton depravity. I'm amused by the entertainers dressed like dominatrixes taking photos with tourists for $5 a pop, mostly because I enjoy asking P, every time, "would you like a photo with her?" only to have him tell me no thanks, he has no use for such a photo, and then I suggest we could use it in the annual holiday cards, to which he will say we don't send out holiday cards, to which I respond, we could start sending holiday cards if we had a nice photo of you and the lady with the handcuffs. This is how we proceed down the strip, me making juvenile jokes and my husband refusing to take the bait. This is our well-worn schtick, 21 years and counting.
This is my fifth(?) trip to Vegas, and I thought I'd celebrate by buying one of those foot-long daiquiris they sell everywhere. But I chickened out. 95% of people carrying a foot-long daiquiri looked dazed and moronic, as if Bugs Bunny had whanged them on the back of the head with a frying pan.
I couldn't do that to myself.
Perhaps this is the essence of Vegas for squares. You joke about the dominatrix photo and you contemplate buying a margarita the size of your head, but in the end it's like nah... I'll go to the pool.
The people watching doesn't disappoint. The grouchy family wearing Prada sweatsuits that glared if anyone dare occupy a table near theirs, and the tall woman with cantaloupe-sized breasts, nude on the lower half, suspended in the air in a proud defiance of physics scientists will be studying for decades, and the two upbeat "woo girls" who did shots off each other's butts at the sedate outdoor pool we frequent, cheering and dancing while the middle-aged marrieds looked on with shock and delight, I thank you all. I honor your humanity, oh wacky Vegas people; you are not merely objects to me, yet observing you entertains me.
Sometimes I watch the people of Vegas walk by and David Attenborough, the nature documentarian, starts narrating in my head.
Behold, the young Kardashian imitator in her prime. Having artificially enhanced her hindquarters she now moves in pursuit of a mate. Her target: a heavily perfumed male in gold chains and a splendiferous display of chest hair. He is focused on his cigar and the approval of the other males in his pack. Will he respond?
Vegas has updated their motto in a nod to the smartphone era. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas has become What happens in Vegas only happens in Vegas.
Vegas for Squares: A Suggested Itinerary
Arrive in Vegas and check into your hotel. Choose your hotel based upon three things:
1. A nice outdoor pool
2. Cigarette smoke filtration
3. A comfortable room
Read reviews! The websites lie and you do not want to end up in a hotel full of vomity drunks.
Suggested: The Wynn (watch for sales, and keep an eye on those resort fees!)
Arrive in the afternoon. Have a drink (coffee perhaps) and watch the people of Vegas walk by. Enjoy the spectacle, but do not judge.
When night falls, walk the strip in comfortable shoes. Shop, if you like. Marvel at the miniaturized world monuments. So tacky! Yet compelling! Wander the aisles of It's Sugar and briefly contemplate buying a five-pound gummy bear. Meander into New York New York for a slice of New York pizza. It's legit.
Sleep soundly. You are in another world.
Leave the strip behind and see any of:
The Hoover Dam
Note: A cab is usually preferable to parking a car on the Vegas strip. For longer distances, you can get a day rental.
AM: Go to the pool early and stake out a good spot. Read a thick novel.
Mid-day: Eat at a buffet. The line will be long, the price will be high, and afterward you will swear that you'll never buffet again. This will be a lie.
Suggested: The Wynn Buffet or The Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan
Evening: If desired, see a show. If you're in Vegas near Halloween, go to Fright Dome!
Day 4: (Optional)
AM: Repeat of the previous day. (Pool & Book)
Mid-day: Nap in your room. All that pool sitting has wearied you.
Evening: Dress up fancy & eat out at a nice restaurant. Take one last walk along the strip. If you haven't seen the Bellagio fountain show yet, do! When you see a ragged-looking Elmo who looks like he's been to hell and back, it's time to go home.
Three full days in Vegas is plenty. You will arrive home relieved and ready for normalcy. Until one year later, your mouth will open of its own volition and blurt:
Hon, want to go to Vegas?
Las Vegas in Fiction
My travels often inspire the books I write. For a fun murder mystery novella set in nineteen-sixties Vegas, check out The Queen of Crows.