I have been to Vegas and back three times this month. Well, not really. I have been to Las Vegas literally once during that time and metaphorically, twice.
On Monday the 14th, I arrived at The Venetian for a week long work conference. We all know a work week in Vegas is about 4 days too many; however this trip, I decided the second my feet touched ground at McCarren that I had already been there too long.
The juxtaposition of extra oxygen pumping through the air entering every traveler’s lungs like they had just inhaled a wallop of Afrin and the incessant dinging of the slot machines was immediately unbearable. I bolted through the airport, not only confused by why people looked even more preposterous and cockamamied since my last visit, but by my seeming impatience to arrive in hell.
Even after mustering up an attitude adjustment and a little self-talk in the cab (“Enjoy yourself! There’s a pool and a killer room and like, Venice, on the second floor, you ungrateful Italian!”) I could not bring myself to understand the allure. People spend way too much money, lose way too much sleep, and behave in ways that make no one proud. Not even Cher and definitely not their mothers.
Monday night football seemed like a safe bet. We walked across Las Vegas Blvd. – and by “walked” I mean pushed our way through a crowd of people that rendered my eyes unable to stop frantically darting around looking for anything that resembled Midwest normal. I saw men with women on their arms who had to be an eighth of their age; women with feathers and claws and bangles on their arms that had to be killed, boiled, and/or stolen; an overweight Spiderman; an underweight Superman; and more silicone and wax than what exists on the INSIDE of Madame Tussauds.
What’s real? What matters? What even makes sense?
I wondered that on the long flight back.
I’m sure as I sat there staring out into the fresh air through a window which is insufferably too teeny to see the natural beauty on the other side, I looked sad. And not the empty kind of sad, but the kind of sad when you realize – when you really realize – what is going on in the world today.
There are days I want no part of it. I want to retreat, screaming “I AM OUT” at the top of my lungs with my hands thrown up in outstretched disgust, waiting for God to just swoop in and FIX THIS MESS.
Why should I try? Why should I care? Why shouldn’t I audition for the role in Cirque, swing from ropes, learn how to play craps and just ride it out until I can no longer fit in those little getups and turn a flattering shade of leathery orange?
But then my plane lands in Indy, I drive to Bloomington for family weekend, continue my prayer-talk-plea all the way there to keep that girl safe, and I have my answer.