As for Vegas’ sins, truth to tell, they were not all that pleasurable. I strongly suspect it might have been the company more than the content. Regardless, here are some highlights from our 3-night-escapade.
Every hotel in Vegas worth its salt has a casino. Except ours. Though that could hardly stop us from gambling anyway. Acquiescing to Mum’s whims, we stopped by pretty much every casino we came across. Most of the time, I ended up reading an eBook while waiting for their self-imposed limit – sometimes time but more often monetary – to expire.
The only time I gambled, I proudly proclaim that I won 100% profit in poker – a measly US$40 that Mum promptly lost in brain-numbing-spinning-wheels-whose-odds-are-so-stacked-against-you-I-wonder-why-anyone-bothers-to-play. To give Mum’s renown luck some credit, she did win all the previous times. It was only that day when I won that she lost pretty bigtime. Maybe I drained her fortune or something. Then again, I believe in Harvey Dent.
Poker was an experience. I was the youngest by far at the table, and noobie mistakes like bidding before my turn chipped away any veneer of experience. Mediocre cards and a couple of stupid bluffs worsened my credit. My opponents’ dismissiveness was palpable. Correspondingly, my play was timid and I bled down to less than half my buy-in.
Then things reached a tipping point; whether it began with a full house or a pocket triple I don’t remember. What I remember is the grudging reappraisal as I played more aggressively. It was so tangible it was exhilarating. I rode the psychological shift, profiting off the lingering doubts of those who still thought I was amateur-bluffing when I raised and edging out the competition from those who had more fear of Fortune’s favour. And that was how I recouped my losses and more.
When I play with friends, it is all congenial. We trashtalk, laugh, bid for fun and bluff for jest. That all changes at the casino, where everyone at the table is a potential cash cow. It is all about cold manipulation. Which is pretty damned intoxicating.
Right after the betting comes the buffeting. Again, every hotel along the Strip has its own buffet. We had three, with the Bellagio Buffet thrashing the rest hands down.
But it isn’t just the buffets, it’s… everything O.o Fastfood is ubiquitous, soda drinks are more available than water, and portions are ridiculous. It’s really no wonder that they have an obesity problem. Every meal felt like we were gorging ourselves. Shudders. That was when I realised that I am only gluttonous about Asian cuisine.
Greed was getting too long so I filed shopping – the last of Sin City’s unholy trinity – here. And even after 6 hours at the same outlet mall, we still felt that it wasn’t enough.
On a separate note, completely dismissing Cirque du Soleil productions with a “huh nice meh?”, Dad squandered our Vegas show opportunity on Fake Bee Gees. The allusion to envy here is a stretch; they did not even do that good a job of imitation.
I suspect that doing a boob job or wearing the Miss-Congeniality-silicon-cups is a requirement to be a waitress in the hotel casinos. And porn is so freely available it almost seems innocuous.
Vegas was cold. The Hoover Dam and the Canyon was cold and windy. And I stupidly forgot to bring thermals, and stupidly decided that a jacket, a windbreaker and a scarf was enough for 2˚C.
So when I got off the bus at Hoover Dam, I found myself shivering uncontrollably from the blasts of air.
But I, being me, obstinately refused any extra layers, shunning the bus-provided blanket and my parents’ nagging.
One thing led to another, and when we got off the bus to get tickets for the heli, I snapped at Mum. I told her to stop treating me like I was a kid, and that I never wanted to travel with the both of them again.
Which, come to think of it, is a rather childish response. Switzerland with Mum was fine; but I verged on feeling miserable this trip. I felt like I was providing a tour service rather than planning my own holiday.
Mum got the worst deal though. Dad and I don’t directly impose our wills on one another. Instead, we bounce our irritation off Mum to communicate our disagreements without directly challenging one another. But my mum is an angel, so she still enjoyed herself quite a lot this trip I think. And she became so nice to me after my tantrum that I felt really bad about what I said. Even if it is true.
Long drives constituted a major portion of this holiday. So did early nights and late mornings in hotel suites where I had a queen-sized (sofa)bed to myself.
If I have any takeaway from this trip, it would be the American driver’s courtesy. Despite the slow traffic and our numerous screw-ups from road unfamiliarity and right-handed driving, we never got horned at. Even when we were shamelessly cutting lanes, people gave in to us.
It’s probably an offshoot of their ultra-friendliness, that manifested itself also in their chatty waiters, talkative dealers and strangers too willing to strike up conversation. Which, in turn, probably springs from an extrovert-ideal culture.
I thought I understood what Susan Cain meant. But an Asian society is really a far cry from US’ in-your-face lifestyle. It makes me more appreciative of our reticence.