Why I'll Never Be The Gambler

Vegas is one of those places they say you have to see once but perhaps it's best not to go there straight from the Grand Canyon. (Hello Sublime, it's me, Ridiculous!)

We drove from one of the world's seven natural wonders straight to the Mandalay Bay, a gleaming gold tower with its own "beach" where girls wander around the lobby holding giant drinks and wearing bare feet and bikinis while their shirtless boyfriends smoke ciggies behind them.

Worse, we weren't even staying there, so didn't even need to see this. What can I say? Our GPS has no taste.

Next door in the cool calm of the Four Seasons (which has no casino, perhaps explaining why the GPS gave it the cold shoulder), the lights and sights of the Strip played outside our window like a movie. That bit, I liked. But you can't go to Vegas, even if you're only there to catch a flight somewhere else, and stay in your hotel room.*

Dinner and a show is what we settled on. I wanted Barry Manilow, but he wasn't performing that night, we both wanted Gladys Knight, but she had cancelled, so in the end we opted for Cirque du Soleil's Love - a Beatles extravaganza that came very highly recommended, plus for an extra $5 you got a three-course meal at the Mirage.

First, though, we needed to go to a pharmacy and made the woeful decision to walk. It was 100 deg F, which was why no one was wearing anything, particularly the people who really, really, really should.

Standing on an escalator behind an enormous woman whose vast rear was exploding out of her cut-off shorts which were 10 sizes too small is a Las Vegan memory that will haunt me forever. I have nothing against enormous women with vast rears - indeed I am sometimes one myself - but that is cruelty to a cut-off short. What the original pair of jeans had done to deserve such punishment I can't imagine. You would think chopping their legs off would have been enough.

Anyway, the pharmacy itself was a zoo: a drunk bride was clutching her friend and a beer bottle at the check-out, two zombies were reading the instructions on every condom packet out loud to each other, a couple of cross-eyed ne-er do-wells were having a scrap in the doorway over who always ended up paying for everything.

At this moment, in the middle of the Strip, in the searing heat, in a filthy and getting filthier mood, I realised I had desperate need of a bathroom. I'm particular when it comes to such facilities and my husband, whose dry desert skin and its needs had brought us to the pharmacy in the first place, quickly saw that he needed to facilitate an optimum outcome or there would be trouble in several different directions.

Spying the nearby Mandarin Oriental hotel, he quickly hustled me over there, delivered me to a very pleasant restroom, thus alleviating some of my distress, then went about the business of securing a cab to the Mirage for some Love.

Outside the hotel, the bellman asked for my name, which I pleasantly gave, although I was surprised he was interested given that I'd only just popped in to use the loo. Anyway, before you could say, "Am I the only one in this town wearing underpants?", an S550 Mercedes appeared in front of us and a uniformed driver by the name of Walter delivered us to our destination, courtesy of the Mandarin Oriental.

I will use only their bathrooms from now on.

Love, by the way, was everything they said it would be.

Smoking inside, acres of flesh - much of it past its use-by date - and gambling?

Walter, please, take me away from all this!

*Yes, you can.




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