alexandra alger




Nope. I didn’t see the Down Unders.


Or Tyson. He’s sure looking good (he’s 44 now! How did that happen?).

I also didn’t gamble.

Before you think I’m utterly lame, listen to what I did do, on a girls’ weekend with three college friends:

—Got tattoos: an arm band and a dragon tramp stamp. Okay, not real: decals. But it’s the idea that counts.

—Saw David Copperfield. Yes, he’s still alive and performing two shows a day–and three times on Saturdays–at the MGM Grand. He can be dazzling–he made a vintage Cadillac appear out of nowhere! And a massive mechanical T-rex!–and so cheesy you can’t believe it. One of his acts involved a tiny blue “Martian” that needed the audience to help him get back to his home planet. A six-year-old might’ve liked this act, maybe, but Copperfield’s audience has more sixty year olds than six year olds (not to mention lots of tourists with a tenuous grasp of English; they must’ve been wishing DC would just get back to making things disappear).

—Checked out the Venetian’s fake canal, with warbling gondoliers, its fake cerulean sky overhead, and people eating in an “outside” Italian tratteria; the Luxor’s soaring pyramid and fabulous Sphinx (see selfie below); and the Bellagio, which was not so impressive. Maybe that’s because we didn’t get to see the Picasso paintings for which Bellagio is renowned. Oddly, they’re hung in a restaurant, which wasn’t open during the day (weird, surely?).


What was glorious–and eventually exhausting–about Vegas were the voluminous crowds. Where is everyone? They’re in Vegas! There were moments when I thought that the broadest diversity of humanity anywhere in the world had to be right there with us on this five-mile strip. All kinds of people, young and old, from all walks of life. Even toddlers. Yes, we saw families with toddlers, strolling through the slot machines–the air stinking of cigarettes and booze–as if they were in a beautiful park somewhere. And untold numbers of young women on bachelorette weekends in stilettos and skin-tight barely crouching covering outfits. Every bride-to-be had an identifying sash or hat. One group was wearing T-shirts that said, “Look like Jackie, act like Audrey, party like Gatsby.” Only the last reference makes any sense in the context of Vegas.

I’d been meaning to try a slot machine, at least. I could not figure out how to work the damn things! There’s a slot for a credit card, I guess, but no way to know how much money you’re putting in, and then what in earth to do to play the game. But all these old people are playing away, losing their money–how hard can it be? Finally, I got my chance. At the airport, where the lame slot machines go (there was about dogs, for instance). I asked the young woman what the deal was. She showed me a dollar machine and said, “It really isn’t that hard. It’s just a question of how much money you want to spend. The more you spend, the better your odds are.” She must’ve thought I was the dumbest person on the face of the earth to ask that question.

I slipped a dollar into a dollar machine called Triple Diamond. The machine coughed and spat my dollar out. I tried again. Same thing happened. Well, then. I slipped my dollar back into my wallet.

Clearly, I wasn’t meant to gamble in Vegas. Not this time, anyway.

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