So. Kira and I went to Vegas and took the town by storm!
Hahahahaaaaaaaaaaaa. Not really. But we had a good time.
It started like this: Every summer for the past 10 (!!) years or so, Kira and I have conspired to see one another. As ours is one of those “fake Internet friendships” where we simply met online while both of us were freshly divorced and newly wrecked, we’re not REAL friends, of course, but somehow at that first meeting long ago it turned out that neither of us was a pedophile living in a basement, and our friendship turned into a real boy, Geppetto (a real girl?), and we have been soulmates ever since. This is slightly inconvenient for our husbands, but not, because as wonderful as both of our husbands are (and believe you me, each was assessed in full by the non-marrying friend for worthiness prior to the actual gettin’ hitched part), neither of them wants to hear the sheer volume of words that pour from our mouths when we are in one another’s company.
We’ve somehow managed to visit once a year for a decade, even during the leanest years. Because it’s important. I will forever owe a debt of gratitude to Joshilyn for hosting us for that first girls’ weekend in 2005, during a time when I was depressed and directionless and had forgotten that sometimes girlfriends make it all better. Also, that was my first visit to Georgia, and at the time I had NO IDEA I’d be moving here not too long after. After that first time, we took turns visiting each other’s houses, but—I don’t know if you know this—we have rather a lot of children between us, and so there were always many small people in our faces during each visit. This isn’t AWFUL, you understand, but we felt like after a decade, we deserved a trip just for us. So earlier this year we pulled out a map and said, Hey, what’s between us? Maybe we can meet in the middle…? And so we planned to fly to… Texas.
Texas is kind of in the middle, you see. And no offense to Texas, but we just couldn’t find something that seemed like it would work. We wanted a BEACH and there are… not that many of those in Texas, you see. We could fly to Houston (sort of in the middle) and rent a car and drive to Galveston… but that would not be terribly cost-effective… or we could stay in Houston! But Houston is kind of expensive. Hmmmmm.
The point is, I don’t know how, exactly, we ended up with Vegas (please note: NOT IN THE MIDDLE, but I did have a nice nap on the way out and read an entire book on the way home), except that flights to Vegas are stupid cheap. And nice hotels are similarly kind of stupid cheap. And before I knew what had happened, I’d fallen down the rabbit hole of PACKAGE DEALS where a hotel and airfare and show tickets all came out to about a hundred bucks over what I’d expected to pay just for a hotel. Finally one day I called Kira and said I AM BOOKING THIS PACKAGE, DOES THIS WORK?? And she said YES, THIS IS SO EXCITING!
Two days after booking our trip, I got laid off from my job and promptly went to my husband in tears over how I shouldn’t have spent the money and the sky was falling and blah blah blah blah. Otto—being Otto—reassured me until I regained sanity, pointing out that because I am so completely mentally ill about money that we could afford it and wasn’t this GREAT that I wouldn’t be so BUSY when we went and I should go and have a great time with Kira. (He’s a peach, that guy. I mean.)
Kira and I began counting down to our trip. Our children (collectively) began whining about how it was no fair that they wouldn’t get to see each other.
So I flew to Vegas. While I was on the tarmac in Atlanta, Kira texted me to say her flight had been canceled. Just as I was starting to hyperventilate, she said she was being rerouted and would be late but would see me soon. I napped during my flight, putzed around the airport for a while until she arrived, and the gabbing began the moment we found each other. That was good, because it was just a short shuttle ride to our hotel, but then we had to wait in line at check-in foreeeeeever.
As I mentioned before, we ended up not getting the room I’d paid for. “Rooms with two queens are extra,” the desk clerk told me. “Do you want to pay to upgrade?”
“I already paid for two queens,” I said. “See?” I showed her my confirmation email.
“That’s not from us,” she said. “You use third party, I can’t see that here. Do you want to pay for two queens?”
“I already paid for two queens,” I repeated. “I paid for it and I’m showing you that I paid for it.” Ever have a conversation with someone in English where you feel like MAYBE you think you’re speaking English but the way it’s going you wonder if maybe you’ve slipped into a foreign language but don’t realize it…? That’s what was happening here.
“We have no two queen rooms available,” she continued, clicking around. (HOW CONVENIENT.) “One king okay? With a rollaway?”
Kira and I exchanged looks. “Ummmm,” I said, because I’m a real wordsmith. “Listen, a king is fine, and we can share, we don’t need a rollaway. But the thing is, I paid more for two queens. I paid for that and you’re just going to give us a less expensive room and that’s too bad for us?”
The clerk clicked some more. “I can comp you one night’s resort fees for your trouble,” she said. Kira and I exchanged another look. “And I will upgrade you to the King Suite, okay?”
We shrugged. “I guess so,” I said. “Thank you.”
The King Suite was the next-to-last door at the end of an impossibly long hallway, with only a double set of doors beyond it. That meant 1) our room was nice and quiet and 2) we promptly decided that the double-door room was the high-priced hooker suite, and we spent all three days trying to catch a glimpse of anyone going in or out of it. (The closest we came was a glimpse inside when housekeeping was there.)
We then proceeded to have what I can only assume was the most un-Vegas-like experience possible.
The first night: We were both jetlagged and starving, so once we were finally situated in the room we wandered out in search of food. Our hotel had an entire mall in it. We surveyed the map amenities list and determined that The Burger Bar was our best bet for close, cheap food. And then… we got lost trying to find it. Eventually we asked for directions and made it there, whereupon we had a stupidly expensive but delicious meal. We took our alcoholic milkshakes (okay, maybe that was sort of Vegas-y) back to our room and proceeded to watch TV, giggle a lot, and eventually go to sleep.
Day One: We walked around the hotel and determined that everyone in Vegas is super unhappy OR scantily clad, and sometimes both. This is probably because there are no coffeemakers in the rooms and you have to pay $20 for a pot of coffee from room service. (We walked downstairs and paid $4.50/cup, the cheapest we could find.) We checked out the pools and decided that being sandwiched in the water between our thousand closest friends was not appealing. We ate our weight in sushi for lunch and… walked down the strip to a movie theater and saw a movie. I could not remember the last movie I’d seen in an actual theater and Kira last saw something animated, so to us, that was a ridiculous treat. That evening, we met up first with a friend of Kira’s from high school and later with my brother and his girlfriend. My brother had a bunch of awkward pictures of us as kids on his phone and I nearly choked on my dinner, laughing over them. (Side note: Dude, send me those. Please.) We stayed out too late and when we finally crawled into bed that night and I joked about spooning Kira in her sleep, she said she was too tired to fight me. But I left her alone because I’m a lady.
Day Two: After an enormous breakfast, we headed into the shops. Time to buy our children souvenirs! First we went to Lush and a very nice young lady with bright pink hair wanted to assess my skin care needs. My skin is pretty much fine BUT it turns out that I am unafraid to turn to a perfect stranger who wants to sell me bath bombs to say, “Hey, is that Atomic Pink? Can I ask you some hair questions??” (Chickadee is wanting to redo her color before school starts, and it turns out that Special Effects Atomic Pink is pretty much permanent and impervious to all dye-removal techniques. Before leaving on my trip I’d done a bleaching treatment discussed at length with the nice folks at Sally Beauty, a bleaching treatment which ATE THROUGH THE TOWEL I’D USED and left her hair straw-like despite my best, coconut-oil-covered intentions, and HER HAIR IS STILL PINK.) So I ended up buying something there because I felt like it was only right after making this woman talk to me about hair dye for 15 minutes. We then went to a ridiculous candy store and bought stuff for the kids (though not the gummy penises or candy boobs, you understand), and the store clerk there followed us around like she was certain we were trying to shoplift. I wanted to ask her if middle-aged moms are their most pernicious thieves, there, but I decided I didn’t want to know the answer. Later that afternoon we headed back to the room to take a nap, but we couldn’t stop talking, and our “nap” consisted mostly of Snapchatting with Max (Kira’s middle boy and the male version of my daughter; they are seriously like twins separated at birth) and Chickadee (fun fact: Chickie is in Kira’s contact list as “Bonus Child Chickadee”). Later we got gussied up and went to see Blue Man Group because we are the only people left in America who hadn’t seen it yet, and it was… weird… but okay… except for the fact that someone brought a screaming toddler and didn’t take said child out for about 10 straight minutes. The show was LOUD and OVERWHELMING for us adults, so I don’t really blame this toddler, though I do think his/her parents are dummies. PSA: Blue Man Group is not actually a good idea for toddlers! It was just before the show that we went all wild and crazy and each gambled… a dollar… at the slot machines. Wooo!
Day Three: Nooooooooo, time to go already?? (This was particularly hilarious as the first morning had lasted forever thanks to us waking up crazy early.) We ate, we walked around, we talked and talked and talked. We checked out and waited for our shuttle, which was very late, and then we hung out together at the airport until we had to head to different concourses. We said our goodbyes and headed home to our families.
1) There’s a rollercoaster on the strip, weaving in and out of several buildings. I think it “belongs” to New York, New York. From the first time we saw it while riding in on the shuttle, the running joke became “We should have a bucket list of things to do while we’re here. My first item is to NOT ride that rollercoaster.” So every time we passed it we said, “Hey, want to not ride the rollercoaster again? Yeah? SWEET!” We became very good at not riding the rollercoaster.
2) Our hotel had a tattoo place. I Snapchatted a pic to Chickadee and told her I was getting a tattoo and she got WAYYYY too excited. (Spoiler: I did not get a tattoo.)
3) Every time we walked through a casino (which was ALL THE FREAKING TIME because every hotel is set up like Ikea to force you through as much acreage as possible to get anywhere) we played “Let’s spot the person who isn’t miserable.” Neither of us ever won. Evidently cranky people go to Vegas and sit in the casinos being unhappy.
4) Our best meal was our cheapest, in part because we ate early before the show and got a bunch of stuff at Happy Hour prices and in part because we got a gluten-free pizza that actually had a decent crust. Also we were dressed up and at one point Kira started cackling and insisted that some young guy had just totally checked me out. We weren’t drinking so I think maybe she had a small stroke.
5) I had figured that the heat in Vegas wouldn’t bother me because, hey, it’s super hot in Georgia and at least there it’s a dry heat. I figured wrong. There’s a pretty good wind going in the desert, it turns out, so every time you walk outside it is exactly like walking directly into a hair dryer set on high. And then we would go inside somewhere and when forced to talk to someone we’d make jokes about the heat and then the other person would be all “actually it’s pretty cool today!” and we would remind each other that we should stop trying to make small talk.
I don’t know that I would go to Vegas again, necessarily, but I would pretty much go anywhere with Kira. Everyone should have a best girlfriend with whom you can not ride that rollercoaster over and over again.