Fear and self-loathing in Las Vegas

  • Las Vegas
Las Vegas (STEVE MARCUS / REUTERS )
March 18, 2014|By Stephen Markley, @stephenmarkley | For RedEye

We were somewhere near Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs finally began to wear off.

When I told my editor I would deliver him a column about the bachelor party I attended this past weekend in Las Vegas, I thought, "Sweet, I'll rip off some Hunter Thompson, crack a really tired "Hangover" joke, collect my columnist fee and be on my way."

What I forgot was that I hate Las Vegas and Las Vegas hates me. What the hell is with that place? It's a chintzy crap fantasyland that hooked up a bizarre water diversion project, destined to someday stand as a testament to late capitalist excess.

But these were my original high school friends, the guys who bring out my inner ninth-grader, so I bought a plane ticket I couldn't afford, got a part-time job, pawned an expensive watch, and donated my plasma for money. Twice.

And for what? So I could put a combination of substances in my body that would cause recently incarcerated Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to say, "Whoa, easy bro."

So I could get the grimiest lap dance allowed by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration? I don't even like strip clubs! I think they're weird! And suddenly I find myself negotiating with a stripper to see if I can pay with my BioTest Plasma donation prepaid credit card? What? Why?

So I could lose a sandal, steal some other kid's sandal, and then eventually lose that sandal as well?

And the binge drinking. Lord, the binge drinking. You know a place is bad for you if you and your friends are all congratulating each other for only vomiting 3-5 times. I watched my friend get chased around a casino by security while he barfed in trash can after trash. Everyone lost a phone or ID. Then we found the ID in the casino's Lost and Found. I'm 30. I'm supposedly an adult. I didn't even know casinos have lost and founds. What's the point of that? And also where's my sandal?

Why is someone ordering strippers to the room 20 minutes before he has to catch his flight, and why am I encouraging him? Why is there an entire box of Triscuits spilled in the sheets of my hotel bed? And what about the pool party? Just because it's underwater and the lifeguard can't quite see you doesn't mean it's not fingering. How far am I setting back feminism just by being here? And most importantly why is this so, so, so much fun?

So maybe I'm the idiot because Las Vegas understands me better than I understand me, that beneath all my whiny hand-wringing we're all just passing time between bacchanals, the Romans but with iPhones.

That's why we spent about half the time at this bachelor party planning the next guy's bachelor party this summer in Myrtle Beach, which is possibly the only place in America more absurd than Las Vegas.

So I'll be back at the plasma center next week. I'll really be needing that new sandal.

RedEye special contributor Stephen Markley is the author of "The Great Dysmorphia" and "Publish This Book."

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