When I moved to Vegas it was a goal of mine to visit every casino. Here I am over five years later and although I’ve seen practically every show and am quite knowledgeable about certain casinos, there are some (mainly off the strip) that I’ve never been inside. The first thing I am asked upon meeting someone for the first time and revealing I live in Las Vegas is, Do you gamble? For the record, no I don’t, and I really don’t ever go into a casino. I still like coffee shops, movie theaters, book stores and friends’ living rooms. But I decided, for the purpose of this blog, to start going to casinos and writing about it. So here’s how it works:
I pick a different casino each week or so, spend the entire day, or a weekend, or maybe just a few hours, and try to fulfill this checklist: gamble, eat, have a drink in the lounge, see a show, meet someone new, and buy something in the gift shop. Oh, and I’ll record how much money I spent over the course of the experieince as well.
The first casino I picked is M. Yes, M. I’m sure there’s a reason for this letter, maybe everyone but me knows why, maybe it’s the initial of the owner’s child, husband, lover, mom, dog, baby Jesus, maybe it stands for Millennium, Million, Mine, whatever, I can’t think of anything that makes it cool or poignant to name your casino after a letter. Unless it’s Z. For some reason, that’s a cool letter. Or A. Like, A plus, grade A, what Fonzie said. But it’s M. And although it’s on Las Vegas Boulevard, it’s about seven miles south of what tourists consider the Strip. Locals say it’s on the Strip, and probably only locals go there. The kind of locals who made me feel overdressed in jeans, a denim hobo bag (which Arty Party told me as we were leaving the house was not sexy, but it’s a bag I acquired in Cannon Beach, OR the day I rode a horse on the beach so it holds good ‘gy (that’s energy for the uninformed) for me and it has a lady on the front sauntering happily through a big city and words are stitched into it that say “Wow, I am happiness” and it gives me the same feeling Funny Girl’s Mr. Cloud’s New Scarf t-shirt probably gives her and I want to feel that way as much as possible) and patterned tank top. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The night really started in the parking lot, where Pink was playing over a PA system, “I’m coming up, so you better get this party started.” Hell, yeah, M, bring it on. Just before we reach the doors, Arty Party tells me it must be cold outside; her nipples are hard. Or maybe it’s the hotness of the guitar player entering M in front of us, bald on top, cascading brown string down his back. He kind of looks like Floyd, the guitar playing puppet on The Muppet Show. For the record, it wasn’t cold outside, and Floyd isn’t hot. So the nipples remain an unsolved mystery.
Once inside, we do a quick walkaround the outer perimeter (ie, the carpeted road surrounding the gambling tables and slot machines), discover there are no shows other than a cooking demo they host in the buffet. When it happens or how much it is is probably information that can be garnered from a concierge. We keep moving.
We’re hungry, so we stop at a happening bar in the middle of the action, 32 Degrees. We find an empty (albeit dirty and disgusting) table and after realizing there are no seats at the bar or another empty table, we park it there. There’s a football game on, so men abound. Two appear to be looking for a place to sit, so Arty Party suggests to me inviting them to join us at our table. I say fine, if you make eye contact. You have to sit back a little, assess the situation; are they looking around for their dates, people from the office? Sure enough the one takes out his cell phone and calls someone, another guy who seconds later meets them by the slot machines, and the three of them leave. Finally a cocktail waitress appears and we order two bowls of matzo ball soup and chicken fingers. I get a Coke, Arty Party a flavored beer called Cider Burst. The cocktailer asks us if we want to start a tab. No thank you. She asks how we’re going to be paying. I resist the urge to ask if they accept nature’s credit card. “Cash,” Arty tells her. She walks away and is back five minutes later. She doesn’t have anything in her hands, like say, a drink or a rag to wipe the table. She asks how we’re doing over here. Arty and I stare at each other and I resist the urge to say, “Hungry and thirsty with crumbs on my arms.” I say, “Fine,” because that’s what she wants and expects me to say. Fifteen minutes later she visits again, this time trailing a guy who puts our food on the table. She asks if we’d like to settle our tab. “When we’re finished,” Arty says. The cocktailer walks away. The soup is good, the chicken is good, the table is still disgusting. The football game is now over and only a handful of people remain, most notably a toothless drunk woman with a muffin top who is enjoying Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs.” The cocktailer comes back to ask if we’d like to settle our tab. Arty says no, but could she please bring some to go containers. She brings them, comes back just as we’re packing them and asks if we’d like to settle our tab. I ask her if there’s a check. She looks confused, then pulls it out of a beer glass on her tray, looking at it like, “Oh, what are you doing in there?” She stands there while we look at it. “Thank you,” I say, and she walks away. The bill is $27 and some change. Arty puts down a twenty and I’m searching my wallet for my half. The cocktailer comes back. “Can I take this?” If you only want twenty bucks, sure. I say, “I’m getting my half.” She goes away and I’m playing with my money, because I only have two twenties, some ones and some two dollar bills. I’m obsessing over what to leave. The cocktailer comes back and starts picking up the check and the money. I snap. “I’m not done yet.” We leave her a five dollar tip, but I was so annoyed. M must have a lot of dine and dashers.
I play nickel slots, lose a dollar.
I go into the gift shop, Vice Shop, and purchase a pretty black and purple hair clip, $10.
The nightclub, Revello, is the next stop, where a cover band, Nitro (surprise, surprise, Floyd is the guitar player), is performing Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” for one Asian woman spasming on the dance floor. Arty and I sit at the bar (anywhere else is a two drink or more minimum if you want to plop it) where the bartender comes over, tosses down some napkins and instead of saying hi asks, “Do you want to start a tab?” No thank you. I get a lemonade, Arty a bottle of water. $5 plus a $2 tip for the bartender, who goes and stands behind the register on the other end of the bar. Too bad for me if I wanted to go where everybody knows my name. The toothless woman from 32 Degrees shows up. She’s there with three friends (?!) but ends up alone on the dance floor with the Asian woman, now boogying to “Bad Romance.” I say to Arty, “I so wish I could go out on the dance floor right now by myself and just start dancing. It would be so funny, and make my blog so much more interesting, but I’m embarrassed.” So I don’t. I stay in my chair, hearing the words of an acting teacher replay in my head, “You will never be great so long as you worry about looking stupid in front of others.” I mean, if Johnny Depp had to research a role that required him to dance goofy in a room full of strangers, would he not do it? The answer is, Johnny’s a millionaire who gets better and better at his craft. I am a dollaraire who writes for rejection letters. Not even for you good people could I get up and dance. But I do have quite a few more casinos to get through . . . .
M Playground Rating: 1 swing