This was written a couple of years ago after a trip to the city of Las Vegas. I’m posting it now with hopes that this site will be the first to pop up if anyone does a Google search for “Aladdin’s Casino” and “vomit”.

It used to be that you couldn’t take a step down the Las Vegas strip without stepping on a scattered pile of prostitution flyers. Now, they are politely handed to you on street corners. What’s more, if you accept it, it will likely be slapped out of your hand by your traveling companion as if it were a snake. Things have changed. What used to be the Disneyworld for adults is now just Disneyworld, complete with a lame roller coaster.

I flew in recently with a friend, we’ll just call her Beth (the one who apparently frowns upon hooking). It was a short vacation, which I think, proved not quite short enough. The immediate impression one gets is of a disaster area where something just exploded, something full of neon and Asians. The lights and people blurred into one muddy streak as we were being shuttled from the airport to our hotel. If I have learned anything from television, and I believe I have, New York cab drivers are a crazy bunch. Ours was clearly trained by one of them. His thoughts may as well have floated in a bubble above his head, “If I come to a screeching halt here, I can cut across this lane into the median, now I can pull into this lane of oncoming traffic and start cursing wildly…”

I expected to go to Vegas and three days later, return with enough stories of sin and dissolution to write a short novel. Instead, I only have a story about the complete lack of stories. Maybe it was our shortage of mescaline and high-powered blotter acid, but there were no soaring Nevada highs. I was only a witness to things like a man lying on a casino floor bleeding from his ears, a woman running nude down the hotel hallway, and a waitress throwing a plate at an ungracious customer. I’m sure all of these events, in and of themselves, made for fascinating stories, but seeing only a small portion of each, I was left to wonder what the entirety them would reveal. Who was that man? What had happened his ears? Could I do anything to personally involve myself in his tragedy and make my trip more interesting?

Those were some of the few things I was grateful to have seen. There were things, two in particular, I was not. There are a million advertisements in that town for an equal number of magic shows or musical cabarets happening daily, or in many cases, twice daily. Someone named Danny Ganns was being highly publicized when I was there. Danny had a nice smile and, in many pictures, a pastel blue jump suit, but no matter how many posters or magazine insets I could find, the only clue to his talent was one of an “entertainer”. It was a mystery that I couldn’t imagine anyone would want to solve. It never occurred to me that people actually went to any of these.

Still, I convinced Beth to go to something called Bottom’s Up, the “only afternoon topless revue on the strip”. It was a sad attempt on my part to recapture the town’s seedy lure that we had yet to come across on our trip. The place was full of people, most of them it seemed, in all seriousness. Ten minutes into the performance, she whispered that she had to go to the bathroom and would meet me after the show by the nickel slots. I said I would see her there in five minutes. I had never known the appeal of a woman’s bare chest could be so nullified by bad puns and a midget in a cowboy costume.

Lesson unlearned, we decided to go see a troupe of impersonators that evening. As a prelude to this decision, Beth announced she had a splitting headache and needed some medication if she were to open her eyes in this town again. I gave her some of my prescription pain-killers, assuming it was common knowledge that the pills should be taken with food, and also, not with alcohol. Ten minutes into Elvis Presley, she threw up. I thanked her and walked her out of the auditorium. She’d had the forethought to bring an Aladdin’s Casino coin bucket in, and on our way out she expressed her amazement over how she’d topped off the entire thing. “This must be thirty-two ounces!” she said. More familiar with throwing up into toilets, she had apparently never considered the raw metric volume one person could fill with vomit.

After a quick recovery, we settled on eating. There are many restaurants in Las Vegas that advertise ostensibly absurd specials- steak and eggs for $4.99. Jelly and toast in the same restaurant, however, costs ten dollars. The buffet, then, is the safest bet, at least economically.

The one we were at offered a selection of food from across the globe. It seemed exciting to unite them on one plate. I put some Kung Pao chicken on one half, a burrito on the other, and unified them with their common bond of rice in the middle. But the dish, and the four thereafter, quickly made me sick. My stomach was angry. It had expected to trip to Vegas, but it was now traveling to China, Mexico, Italy, and France, all in one night.

We shared a cab ride back to our hotel that night with a couple from Texas. Each of us reflecting upon our own nausea, we were silent for most of the ride. When it was time to pay, the man told me to put my five dollars away. He told me to “put it on black, partner, because they won’t let me put in on black…” It sounded like he was about to spin off into a tangent about how he was wronged by a casino pit boss, so I readied a smile and prepared to nod awkwardly. Then Beth, from the front seat, began to make nervous small talk about the weather and hotel amenities. Later, I found out she was under the impression our guests had not only paid for our ride, but had given me an extra twenty dollars to gamble with and consequently she reckoned, we would all be having sex in their suite shortly, probably with our boots on, Texan style. If only…

The last morning there, I was drying off from a shower when I noticed two large red stains on my towel. In vacations past, still hazy and confused from the night before, I imagined myself prodding my body with urgency, searching for open wounds. This time, I only shrugged. Las Vegas, especially the housekeeping, just isn’t what it used to be.