A final potpourri of vacation thoughts and rants

I’ve collected a few random thoughts from our recent Vegas vacation that just didn’t fit anywhere else or seem to warrant their own post.

Why I Fly Continental.

From Vegas, Baby!

Of course I didn’t know this when I booked the flights, but imagine my pure delight when the drink cart came up the airplane aisle, and their standard gin & tonic was BOMBAY SAPPHIRE GIN and SCHWEPPES TONIC? Seriously. Perfect! There could have been no better foreshadowing of a fantastic vacation than this.

…Tan Line Phobia?

Someone help me understand, in this day and age, why women still pull their bathing suit straps down off of their shoulders while sunbathing. Are they worried they’ll get unsightly tan lines that will be visible when they put on that strapless ballgown later? And if they relocate the straps, don’t they just get different tan lines?  Ladies, truly, if you were wearing sunblock like we’re all supposed to, the tan line thing would be a non-issue. It’s 2008, not 1978. We know now that we shouldn’t be trying to get a tan, for any number of valid reasons.  Believe me, I know it feels good to get all warm in the sun, like a snake on a rock… but ladies, ya just look goofy sitting there with your straps hanging down to the middle of your upper arms.

While I’m ranting about goofy…

“Manny packs.” Guys, listen. I’ll forgive you for not knowing how to order a martini, for wearing socks with sandals, possibly for leaving the toilet seat up, and maybe even for not flossing daily. But you, there – the guy at Starbucks, requesting a venti iced something-or-other and grabbing an insulating sleeve so it wouldn’t make your little hannies too cold, and – yes – wearing a fanny pack? Entirely unforgiveable.
fanny Pictures, Images and Photos

And sir, it wasn’t just you. You were in good company in Las Vegas. I am here to tell you that the fanny pack remains – inexplicably – alive and well. Because, you know, nothing says “I’m new here! Steal my cash!” like someone rooting around in their fanny pack in the middle of a crowded sidewalk. And while I’m ranting, can someone explain to me why everyone wearing a fanny pack was actually wearing it on their belly? It isn’t called a paunch pack or a belly fat pack, it’s called a fanny pack. Such an unfortunate name.

Slideshow, anyone?

If you’re still humoring me with all my Las Vegas blather (and I sincerely do appreciate that you’re still reading), and you don’t have anywhere else more compelling to be, you can check out the slideshow below for a few shots that I actually took. It’s only like 11 photos – just the highlights… of what I can share on a PG-13 rated blog, anyway. (wink, wink)

Vegas, Baby!

Inside every woman is a little bit o’ stripper

As promised, what follows is INSTALLEMENT DEUX in Curt & Meg’s Vegas Adventure. Uncork the other half of that bottle of wine from the last installment; you’ll need it.

So, the bodysnatcher helpful guy at the shameless timehshare snare information booth hooked us up with VIP passes to Coyote Ugly Saloon in New York, New York. After seeing Zumanity, we wandered upstairs and heard thumping loud rock music outside of the bar, so we headed inside to investigate.

Neither of us had ever seen the movie, but we had heard about the place, and thought it sounded like fun. Inside, we found quite a scene: Smokin’ hot hostesses, dancing on the bars, enticing other women to come on up and dance on the bar, where “bar” equals a rounded, small stage area at bar-height, surrounded by four stone-cold-sober bouncers positioned around the edge to catch any chicks who end up falling off. Super-loud rock anthems – the songs you sing at the top of your lungs while you’re driving alone in the car – are the musical fare. It’s a winning combination.

I was all, “oh, no, I couldn’t, I’ll just stand here and watch.” Yeah, that lasted about 10 minutes, until one of the hostesses beckoned me to the stage, and just like that, I was up there – ME! – shakin’ my moneymaker, in front of a full bar, including my enthusiastic husband, who was all WOOT! WOOT! WOOT!. I danced to AC/DC. I danced to Kiss. I sang all the words and I air-guitared. And then, as I was turning to leave, the hostess grabbed a bottle and asked me: “Do you want a shooter?”

“Sure, OK,” I said, and tipped my head back and opened wide so she could pour some sweet liquid into my mouth, one of many shooters she poured down assorted throats that night. And just like that, I was transported back in time to the mid-1980s, to any number of FRAT PARTIES, and it was then that I realized this: Despite all our grown-up responsibilities, there’s part of us that never really grows up. Everyone was doin’ shooters up there – sanctioned, free shooters. Because nobody doesn’t love a free drink! I asked one of the hostesses, so, what’s in the bottle? And she replied, “I really don’t know! Want one?” Um, I did.

I watched some more. There were a couple of ladies, roughly my age, who couldn’t get enough of the stage. They had to be dragged off.  Other groups of girls wandered in, all hesitant, and I was like, OH, GO ON, IT’S FUN, YOU KNOW YOU WANNA! And, they did. And that’s when I realized something else: Inside every girl there’s a little bit of stripper. Because once anyone got up on that stage, prim & proper went out the window, and bump & grind entered with a vengeance.  And really, what woman doesn’t want to dance to a whoopin’ and hollerin’ group of guys? Doesn’t matter if you were born in the 1960s or the 1980s – the language there spans the generations.

Bottom line: It was loud, bawdy, suggestive fun. It was probably the best party we happened upon during our days in Las Vegas. It’s not something I could do more than once every DECADE or so, but it was the right party at the right time, and if you like a rowdy party, you should go there next time you’re in Vegas.

Or at least, rent the movie.

**EDITED: By “Stripper” I mean “suggestive dancer.” Nobody up there actually disrobed. There were a couple of girls in the crowd who were throwing their bras around, but there was no stripping. Just… hot dancing.

Evasion of the body snatchers

Welcome to installment #1 of Curt and Meg’s excellent Vegas adventure. I’ll wait here while you go and pour a glass of Chablis – you’ll need it because this is kind of a long one…ready?

OK. So, we rolled into Las Vegas around dinnertime on Wednesday, checked in, had dinner and enjoyed some live music at House of Blues, did some things that will stay in Vegas (because this is not a tell-all blog, people) and got us a good night’s sleep. Them’s some comfy beds!

Thursday morning, we set out to explore the Strip, hoping to visit a few resorts and find some trouble get the lay of the land. We wandered into New York, New York and were immediately accosted approached by a nice young man who asked if we had plans or did we need some help figuring out what to do during our stay, and offered that he could get us some good deals on show tickets. We were wary but intrigued and stepped over to his kiosk where he started tapping at a computer screen to help us narrow down a good fit for our interests. You know – because he cared. We settled on tickets to see the erotic Zumanity for $20 each – a real bargain! Then, Because He Liked Us So Much, he threw in VIP access and a waived cover charge at Rok, and then added VIP passes to Coyote Ugly too. (More about Coyote Ugly later!)

“So dude – what’s the catch?” I asked, one skeptical eyebrow raised.

“No catch, really – all you have to do is agree to go on a short little 120minutetourofagorgeousresortpropertydownthestrip. It’s fun, you’ll get to meet some really nice people, and they give away other prizes, too. Once you finish the tour, you’ll get your gifts.”

“OK,” we said, figuring there’s no way we could be pressured into buying some vacation resort, because you can’t squeeze blood from a stone, or a turnip, or however the saying goes. Meanwhile, we’d take advantage of the free refreshments and likely score some serious blog fodder, and on that last point, we were richly rewarded.

Tahiti Village is a condo resort on the south end of the Strip. But it’s more than that, they promise, for the owners of Tahiti Village are purveyors of a lifestyle. Dream merchants. Turns out, it’s also a bit of a cult. Our own personal Dream Merchant, coincidentally named Curt, escorted us to a seminar room where we got acquainted while enjoying a delicious breakfast shrink-wrapped Danish and watery coffee. Turns out, we had more in common with our boy Curt than just his name, for he, too, had come here on vacation, was snagged by the “body snatchers,” and the next thing you know, he and his wife had sold their house, moved to Las Vegas, and he fell so in love with the lifestyle that he began selling DREAMS to other couples. All this from a former network engineer! Who’da thunkit.

Then, the lights were dimmed and the captives potential buyers were shown a video of all the old Vegas hotels being imploded (actually a cool video), the point being that the new mega-resorts are an unaffordable way for most to vacation. But, Fear Not! For Tahiti Village offers you the opportunity to literally own a piece of land on the Las Vegas Strip (it’s a deeded timeshare), and the good folks at Tahiti Village could make that possible for us today!

So went our host’s script. I can’t recall his name, but he was clearly a legend in his own mind. He hosts some cable TV boxing show. He had longish blond hair, quite the suntan, and wore a khaki-colored suit. He reminded us Matthew Modine’s character from the third season of Weeds, Sullivan Groff, who developed Majestic next to Agrestic. A slick huckster. (Is that redundant?) The vultures Dream Merchants, full from drinking this guy’s Kool-Aid, were planted about the room knew exactly when to applaud, stand and cheer, and they did so with gusto.

Who’s here celebrating something today? Our host asked the room, and the Dream Merchants announced their couple’s occasion to much applause and fanfare. There were three anniversaries and a honeymoon. See? We are MAKING MEMORIES here, people!

Dream Merchant Curt gave us a tour of the lovely pool outside and the lobby complete with full concierge service. Then he showed us the condo unit, which really was quite lovely – very modern. He gushed about the maid service, the free shuttle to the Strip and the airport, the 24-hour bar and restaurant, the organized activities for the kiddies. Really, a little slice of paradise here, and who are you to deny your loved ones of that opportunity? But not only that, we could have TWELVE WEEKS a year to vacation at any affiliated resort for maybe a couple hundred dollars each week, and you can share the weeks with your friends.

We started thinking about it. Could we somehow parlay this “investment” into a cheap beach week in North Carolina with our friends, all of us in our own beachfront condos in the same resort? Of course, said Dream Merchant Curt. You can go anywhere, anytime you want, with whomever you want. And your week in Las Vegas is free! Now let’s go talk some numbers, shall we?

Back we went to the seminar room, where all of the zombies Dream Merchants were seated at tables with their unsuspecting prey potential buyers, Running The Numbers, where Running The Numbers equals trying to get you to commit to a small monthly payment while placing little or no focus on the HIGH-INTEREST LOAN OF UPWARDS OF $10,000, and did we mention, unless you have a bankruptcy or lien, we guarantee we’ll approve financing?

All of a sudden, one of the Dream Merchants stood up and yelled to the room, “PLEASE WELCOME JOE AND CINDY TO THE FAMILY – THEY ARE OUR NEWEST OWNERS!” All the Dream Merchants stood and enthusiastically applauded. Joe and Cindy approached the stage, were given floral leis to place around each other’s necks, and told to pop a balloon that contained a chance to spin a wheel to win even more trips. Dream Merchant Curt leaned in and shared some insider scoop: “I know what’s in the balloons because I fill them. If they pick red, they get the jackpot, and if you go up there, I’ll tell you which one to pop!” Super.

Our interest was beginning to wane, and we held firm, even when their Numbers Guy joined our table to present us with a list of even better deals. They didn’t want to let us deny our children a lifetime of memories, of frolic in the sand and sun, over a measly $150 per month for one week every other year in Vegas, plus you still get the 12 weeks a year at other resorts! Instead of paying all that money to rent a vacation house on the Outer Banks, you could invest in this Dream Resort, gain equity, write off the mortgage interest, plus join the vacation club, because really, isn’t this the LIFESTYLE you DESERVE?

They seemed surprised that I kept going back to the bottom line, which is that if we had extra money each month, we’d be putting it towards existing debt or, oh, I dunno, silly me, saving for THREE COLLEGE EDUCATIONS.

Nope, sorry, we insisted, it just isn’t the right time for us. Now how about hooking us up with those Zumanity tickets and letting us get on with our vacation? The fun had worn off like the gold from a gumball machine ring. We were done.

Dream Merchant Curt escorted us to the “Gifting” window, where we received our ticket vouchers, and handed us a pass to ride their shuttle back to the Strip. He also helpfully pointed us in the direction of the outlet mall, which, as it happened, was within walking distance, and that was good because my own dreamy Curt had managed somehow to pack only one shoe besides the pair of sneakers he wore (yes, way), and I insisted he needed to wear something other than athletic footwear to the clubs. (Call me crazy.)

And that is how we spent our first morning in Las Vegas. We’ve no regrets – it was a hilarious experience, the tickets to Zumanity were a huge score and the show was really great. But it turned out the best part of the whole thing was our night at Coyote Ugly, and that, readers, will be the subject for my next installment. Stay tuned…