Monday, January 03, 2011

January 2nd, 2011

I realized something looking at my siblings today that I’d never noticed before: we’re all fat. Except for my brother, who isn’t. Okay, maybe that means nothing.

Sorry, on with the countdown.

In the hotel room, we scooted the two beds together so that five people could sleep on them, but my brother and I volunteered to sleep on the floor. We may be more alike than I realized, because despite me announcing that whoever slept on the floor the first night should get to sleep on the bed the second, we both ended up in the exact same place the next night.

Amusingly, though, at some point during the night, the mattresses began to separate, and my big sister started to fall through the crack in the middle. I don't know if that's funny or not, actually.

My brother did not feel well the next morning, but despite my back complaining about the floor, I felt alright. My cousin is a doctor, so she's used to getting up after no sleep, and proceeded to open the curtains to welcome the rest of us to the morning. Now I know how Dracula feels.

One by one, people got up and showered, and when it was finally my turn, there were no towels left. I still had to take a shower (that's just how I roll, kinda like a normal person's necessary cup o' Joe), and of all the towels thrown in a pile on the floor, I picked the least-wet one.

I assume it was my brother-in-law's towel, because he's bald.

My cousin's friend had relatives in Vegas, so she left us to visit them. Then there were six. My brother was too sick to go out for breakfast, so that left five. We walked out into the chilly Vegas morning, and went to Denny's on the Strip, but it was so busy they were making the customers wait outside before a table became available. There was another restaurant nearby, but you couldn't get in the door because of the crowd, so we decided to go to a food court by the Riviera, despite my cousin claiming their food was "shitty."

I was surprised how far away it all was, since the night before we walked at least that far, and I didn't notice it. That's mornings for you.

My sister and cousin decided to go shopping at a couple of Vegas-only stores, and that left just three of us. So, my brother-in-law, my sister, and I got in the car and drove over to the Treasure Island to see how people at the more upscale hotels lived and shopped. We basically walked outside and through casinos, sightseeing and talking.

There was a Sony store in the Forum Shoppes, and I got to try out one of those 3-D televisions people used to talk about. It sort of worked, the way that 3-D option on Excitebike used to sort of work for the Nintendo. We also went into one of those signed memorabilia stores and looked at the signed items. They had a REVENGE OF THE JEDI poster signed by a bunch of the stars (including Harrison Ford) for two thousand dollars. If I had made the correct life choices, I suppose I could buy something like that.

The three of us must've been having a good time because we started talking about coming back for St. Patrick's Day, another popular Vegas weekend. Thank Joss my sister didn't want to come back for Valentine's Day--ick--but my guess is, that's an even bigger Vegas weekend than St. Patrick's.

My family has relatives in Vegas (my mom's mother lived there until she died a few years back, and I used to visit her or my uncles pretty much my whole life), so a few calls were made and a bunch of us got together at a Mexican restaurant just a mile or so from our hotel. The food was good, and not very expensive, but my cousin bought everybody something called apple shots, and they ended up being over a hundred dollars. Yikes.

Distressingly, we discovered several incorrect items on the huge bill that came to the table at the end of dinner. My guess is, they figured with a group that big, we wouldn't notice a few "extra" items. The bastards even charged us for hot sauce and guacamole.

There was a bit of bickering at dinner, and my two sisters are on shaky friendship ground to begin with, but no knife or broken bottle fights broke out, so I guess we did okay. One of the cousins who came to dinner with us agreed to come back to the Sahara for gambling, but the others all had to work or ____.

We spent some of the evening in the karaoke section, and it wasn't just me that got up and sang this time. My brother-in-law sang "I'm Too Sexy" and the girls (well, three of them) got up and sang "I Like Big Butts" (or whatever the real Sir Mix-a-Lot title is). One thing I really liked about the way they did karaoke there was that once you had gotten up and sang, your name was in the rotation for the rest of the night, so you could put in a song title for your next turn or just go gamble and come back and sing when you'd lost your money. I did a Men At Work song, a Manfred Mann song, and a Journey song (but that pretty much wiped out my voice for the rest of the night), but the others decided not to get up again.
My brother didn't get up at all. He much preferred winning money at pretty much whatever game he chose to play. I don't get that, but hey, karma may be repaying him for childhood good deeds. Most of the others joined the Roulette table and wasted unbelievable amounts of money putting chips on various spaces, knowing that they only had to get one of them right to win it all back. I bored easily watching them (and didn't feel like joining in), but I did play some Blackjack with my brother when I wasn't singing along with whoever's turn it was to karaoke.

Midnight came, and their idea to do another countdown and hug and make out with Asian dealers never really came to fruition. I know a lot of dudes hit on the girls, though, so it came as no surprise that my brother-in-law was the first one to retire, followed by my sister, then my brother and me.

I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I didn't do a great deal of gambling on the trip. Partly because I prefer to watch others gamble (I was always that way as a kid with video games too), and partly because I had lost nearly all the money I'd set aside for playing the games.

Toward the end of the night, I decided to drag my sister before she went up to the room to watch me play my last twenty dollars on the game that I thought was the most fun of all the ones we played, which was virtual Texas Hold’em with a dubiously hot CG dealer. I guess I should've been paying more attention, because I accidentally hit the wrong button and put ten dollars on the Trips space. The Trips space/square is a side bet hoping you get a special win, like a Straight or a Three of a Kind or a Full House (or Family Matters or Perfect Strangers, while we‘re at it). In addition to the normal Ante and betting, you have the option of putting money on that space, but I NEVER put more than two dollars on it, and had just put ten there.

Well, I figured I could fix that, so I pushed the button again, and now I had twenty dollars on the space (despite having only two in the real bet). I had no more money, so I pushed the button again, hoping it would reset, but it didn’t, my twenty dollars was on there permanently. So, I played my hand . . . And ended up getting a Straight. Which was lucky, but the big-breasted, unreal dealer got a higher Straight, and I lost.

The neat thing was, however, that that only mattered for the eight bucks I had riding on the game; I still had a Straight, and win or lose, the Trips still paid me off, and suddenly I went from having nine dollars left to having $149 left. By accident.
Well, I’m not one to press my luck (which may be why I remain dateless on this, the most romantic weekend of the year), so I cashed out and left the table. Probably never to return.

I ran over to my brother, still playing Blackjack (he hung out there so long, he knew all the dealer's names and national origins), to tell him the tale. He congratulated me, but he was making more than that with every winning hand now. Still, that was a cool way to actually win a little money, by pressing the wrong button. I’m sure worse things have happened (and if I had had one more dollar in the machine, it would have bet thirty dollars instead of twenty).

I sat with my brother for a couple more hands (he had to go to the bathroom, and told me to watch his chips, so I sat down to guard them, and the dealer said, "You no touch chip! You no gamble!" Which I initially found insulting, like I was going to steal from my own brother, but I figured was just her looking out for him), but he started to lose again while I was there, so he cashed out (with almost a thousand dollars, men and boys), and went up to the room.

I told the three remaining girls goodnight (my Vegas cousin had long since gone home) at around three-thirty, and went back to the room to sit down and blog a little. An hour or so later, I got in my sleeping bag and was almost asleep when the three girls barged in and decided to continue the party until five-thirty. My brother, bless his soul, managed to sleep through it.

Morning came not long after, and I tried to snooze while everybody showered and ran their hair dryers and packed up. We checked out of the room and started the voyage back to our normal lives. I only managed to drive four hours or so before I started drifting, so I switched places with my brother-in-law and slept the rest of the hours home.

So, it's a new year. I'm supposed to make a couple of resolutions, aren't I? That's everybody's tradition, and I'm a sucker for tradition.

The trouble is, I don't want to make any resolutions. I hate setting myself up to fail, and certainly hate introspection (which amounts to the same thing), but the point is just to examine what can go better, and what to focus on.

I joined a Facebook group consisting of writers who are vowing to write twenty-five stories in 2011, which amounts to 25 stories in 52 weeks. When you put it that way, a story every other week seems like nothing, and I've committed to doing it, but we'll see how motivated I am.

More than just writing, though, I really need to submit my work more often, but saying it means nothing.

The Vegas trip was a lot of fun. True, I did get a bit annoyed with the three girls (all of whom are way too old to be called "girls"), especially when they stumbled in at five this morning laughing and shrieking and kept it up until one passed out. I shouldn't cast stones, though; I was told today that I sing in my sleep.

Rish "The Cooler" Outfield

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