Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Morning Stories With Mookie - Episode 109

The Time Mookie Went To Las Vegas By Himself

Since it is now March, that usually means one thing for the kids out there: Spring Break Vacation. To celebrate Spring Break, all of the "Monday Morning Stories with Mookie"episodes in March will be about something that happened during one of my visits to my favorite vacation destination: LAS VEGAS. Enjoy.

Several years ago I got the bright idea that I should go to Las myself. I had seen an interview with some guy where he said that Las Vegas was a "lonely" place if you were there by yourself.  For some reason this appealed to me, so I told my wife about it and how I would like to do that. A short time later...arrangements were made.....and bing bang boom....I was going to Vegas by myself.

The timing of the event was also odd in the fact that I would be in Las Vegas during my birthday. When I told certain people of this whole trip they all thought it was cool at first, but then they thought the whole thing was really strange. Some people "got it," but most of them didn't. I mean really, who goes to Las Vegas by themselves for their birthday? Mookie does - that's who.

The first thing I felt upon landing in Las Vegas was how surreal it was to actually be there - alone. I didn't check a bag, so I was off the plane and into a shuttle to the hotel rather quickly. Once I got to my hotel (Monte Carlo) and got checked in, I sat in the room for a few minutes and further processed the change of scenery and the situation in general. The situation as it stood right then was still "very weird." Up until that point in my life, I hadn't really went anywhere like that by myself. Whenever I did something or went somewhere, there was always someone with me or I was meeting with someone when I got to where ever I was going. Even now when I go somewhere by myself, there is always that "connection" to things via texting, smart phones, Facebook, and all the constant connections we have now. At that point in time - none of that existed. It was just me, and it was exhilarating and scary all at the same time.

I eventually shook off the feeling of being alone and headed out onto The Strip. After walking for quite awhile, I found myself in a lively game of Blackjack at Bally's. I quickly found myself up $20-30 and decided to get out because the table had an automated and constant card shuffler. Every time the table finished the hand, the cards were put into the machine and shuffled with the rest of the multi-card deck. Those things make for horrible odds and knew I could lose my money as fast as I made it. Further into the casino I found an electronic blackjack game that suited my fancy, and began to win at that as well. The machine had a minimum of $1 bets and a max of $10. I got into a rhythm and ended up leaving there a winner as well. I decided to seek my entertainment elsewhere and started walking. I walked and walked and walked and walked and walked - one end of The Strip to the other. I went past every casino and saw it all. When I found myself finally back at the Monte Carlo, I decided that I needed a nap. 

After my nap I found myself back downstairs in the Monte Carlo casino and at another blackjack table. This time I was entertained by the group of Cuban gentlemen smoking Cohiba cigars and drinking endless beer. They didn't speak English or include me in their banter, but they were fun to watch. After playing - and losing $40 at Craps, I headed out into the night to see what else the evening had in store. The result...nothing. I bought two beers in the casino store and returned to my room to rub my sore feet from all the walking that day.

Things were "OK" in general until Sunday morning. I woke up at 8am - early by Vegas standards - and headed out. It was finally then that I felt like the loneliest person on the planet. There was virtually no one around, and the weather was so overcast that it gave off the most gloomy feeling ever. As I walked past New York New York and across their semi-replica of the Brooklyn Bridge out front, I decided that yes....indeed this is a tremendously lonely town when you are by yourself. I tried gambling some more at various locales - O'Shea's, Caesar's, Barbary Coast -  and couldn't catch break anywhere. This did nothing to improve my mood or make the town seem less depressing. I thought it would be a good idea to try the video blackjack machine over at Bally's again, so I headed that way and hoped I could rally and turn my luck around. No. Dice. The thing didn't even give me chance and wiped out my allotted cash in like 10 minutes. When I left there it was just past NOON.  This was going to be a long day in Las Vegas.

However, as I walked up and down The Strip - I was left with the only thing a person has in a time like thoughts. That is a good and bad thing...depending on the day. Eventually after walking the entire Strip yet again, I decided to retire to my room later that evening and rest my sorry feet. For some reason my shoes were not holding up well and my arches screamed every time I took a step. This didn't help my mood much either because I wanted to go back down to the casino but it REALLY hurt to walk.

During my last day in Vegas, the one thing that sticks out at me and I TOTALLY remember was that I went back to Bally's one more time to try that video blackjack machine again. I hoped the luck I had the first time would come back, give me some fun money for the day, and brighten my mood. No. Dice. That GD machine took my money just as fast as the last time I played and lost. Between not sleeping well (I don't sleep well in hotel beds), my feet killing me, and losing the last dollar I had in the machine....I wanted to cry. I was ready to go home, see my wife and sleep in my own bed. Unfortunately my flight out wasn't until the next day, so I had to wait.

When I did get home the next day, I was greeted by my loving wife who not only gave me a great hug - but also gave me something I desperately needed more than anything right then and there - a pair of new shoes.

In hindsight, the trip was a good one. It definitely gave me a perspective of things in my life, where I was in the world, and reminded me that I was very happy with what I had. Would I do it again? Absolutely. While the trip had its downer moments, it did have entertaining moments and was a worthwhile adventure. Would I recommend this sort of trip to anyone else? I don't know. It certainly isn't for anyone who needs someone there at all times to entertain them. 

If you do make some sort of trip like this, be forewarned that you will get some odd looks and comments about your sanity from friends and loved ones. I guarantee there were some people I told about my trip beforehand who thought I wasn't going to come back. They either thought I was going to run away or that I would end up dead in a pool blood and vomit. 

Well the joke was on them, because I came back. 

(*) - Names changed to protect the guilty/innocent

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