It Was Slots of Fun
The last time I visited Las Vegas was the day Richard Nixon resigned and nobody in the hotel noticed. So it’s been a while. But the more things change the more Las Vegas stays the same—a garish, 24/7 adult amusement park. I was secretly hoping for history to repeat itself with another presidential resignation, but no such luck—with that, or anything else Vegas-related.
The hotels have gone from ginormous to gargantuan, and every celebrity chef not caught up in the #MeToo movement is there searing steaks you can’t afford to eat. The casinos still have no windows or clocks. While the urban myth that casinos pump extra oxygen into the atmosphere to keep you awake and gambling longer has been debunked, some cosmic force kept me feeding Hamiltons into oblivion longer than good sense should have allowed.
There have, of course, been improvements in the slot machine industry in the 44 years since I last donated money to Wayne Newtonland. Everything is digital now and casinos use theatrics to replicate the authentic slot machine experience. Gone are the buckets of nickels that once made us giddy and turned our palms filthy. Now, when you cash out you get ear-splitting sound effects of nickels cascading into a non-existent cup while a dreary paper receipt prints out. Way less satisfying.
And the one-armed bandits no longer have any arms at all. Their levers have been replaced by neon buttons, each bet requiring absolutely no physical exertion. Gone is the illusion of losing weight along with your lunch money. I did find a retro machine, watched it gobble my ten-dollar bill, and pulled the handle. If not for the cacophony of casino bells and whistles, everybody would have heard me scream. The bandit’s arm was a phony and I almost dislocated my shoulder.
I was amused, however, by the new-fangled slot machine games. No longer mere cherries, bars, and 7s, the digital animations present all animals great and small, tempting pots of gold, flying honey bees, monsters, and Kung-Fu legends. Jurassic World dinosaurs in vivid 3D performed like a seizure starter kit.
Just like a lot of things these days, the distractions served to cover up what was really going on. I was losing, although these new machines seemed to toy with me longer before swallowing my moolah.
Eventually, I cut my losses and took a chance on the outdoors. And because global warming is a myth, it was 115 degrees out. Sure, you can give me that “it’s a dry heat” bull-puckey, but I got second degree burns grabbing a hot metal handrail. I should have packed oven mitts.
Once outside and gasping for air, all I had to do was whip across a footbridge above the famed Strip and enter another colossal hotel. I have to hand it to the architects and designers. Each hotel is more over the top than the next.
Truly, the buildings, inside and out, are works of art. I could have saved a lot of dough last winter, skipped Italy, and just visited Vegas. Who knew Venice’s Grand Canal, complete with gondolas and serenading gondoliers, runs right through the Venetian Hotel lobby?
When I go to Paris, France in two weeks I’ll have no need to ascend the Eiffel Tower. Been there, did that at the Las Vegas Paris Hotel. It’s only half the size of the Parisian attraction, but from the top, the bright lights of The Strip proved tres magnifique.
And ye gods! At Caesar’s Palace there are gods all over the place, ancient ruins, Ionic columns, and The Three Graces in the flesh. Well, plaster. It really is big, bold, cheesy fun.
Later, I joined a group of friends for a ride on a giant pod Ferris Wheel. The half-hour journey had us rise high above the concrete jungle and desert floor, as we gaped at surrounding mountains and the ridiculousness that is Las Vegas. We could see a Lawrence of Arabia dust storm brewing to the West and a lightning storm threatening from the East. It was a little scary, but impressive as hell.
Truth is, my Vegas weekend also included a literary conference, providing a modicum of quiet and culture for at least part of my stay. I also sampled my first In-N-Out Burger, which I believe bests Five Guys.
Then I prepared to take my first red-eye flight home. By the time I dragged myself to the airport, the only thing to keep me upright before boarding was to play more slots. Yes, they are at every single airport gate.
I played Pompeii Times and got snuffed out. In the DaVinci Painting Game I was Mona Loser. The 101 Dalmatian Chase saw my money go up in smoke. And Quack Pot, with spinning ducklings, made me giggle as another six bucks stayed in the local economy.
I’m home now. What happens in Vegas stays on your credit card. ▼
Fay Jacobs is an author of five published memoirs. Her newest is Fried & Convicted: Rehoboth Beach Uncorked. As a humorist, she’s touring with her show Aging Gracelessly: 50 Shades of Fay. More Fay Jacobs.