Sunday, November 27, 2005

Friday Night Smokin'

I had Friday night off, which was a rarity. Luckily, longtime reader Habanaman, aka Chris, was in town for a quick visit and wanted to meet up. His offer of free drinks and Cuban cigars was more than enough incentive for me to make my way down to the Strip on a Friday night.

We decided to meet up at Napoleon's Lounge there at the Paris at 10 pm, as that was the wife's bedtime and as soon as he could 'get off the leash' as he put it.

I made it to the lounge on time, after driving around for ten minutes looking for someplace to park. But when I arrived at Napoleon's, I was quite a bit disappointed. I've always thought of the place as a nice, understated, almost elegant cigar lounge and bar. But Caesars Entertainment no longer owns the place, Harrahs does, and it has become Harrah-fied. Instead of a low-key jazz pianist playing mellow tunes in a dimly lit room, they had two 'dueling' keyboardists hamhanding their way through the same cliched versions of songs that every other dueling piano bar in the world does. And not only that, it was about 30 decibels too loud. Imagine some shitty band like Limp Bizkit playing a classy joint like Carnegie Hall.

Chris spotted me immediately, and had a table saved as far away from the noise as possible, but it was still impossible to carry on a conversation without yelling. No fun at all. I was looking forward to a relaxing evening sipping top-shelf liquor, smoking cigars, and enjoying pleasant conversation. There was no way that was going to happen, so we decided to try someplace else. While we waited, and waited, and waited some more for the waitress to come by so we could settle the tab, I filled out one of the request slips with the simple appeal that they play 'the 25-minute-long Woodstock version of Shut The Hell Up'. Unfortunately, we left before they made their way through the stack and got to that request.

We decided to try the main bar in the casino, but that was completely packed with no tables available. While making our way through, we encountered the lamest bachelorette party in the History of Vegas. First of all, the bride was older than me and there was no sticky candy available to nibble off of her body. Penalty points for that faux paus.

Their first request was a reasonable one--they wanted a condom. Of course Chris is married, so he didn't have one. And I stopped carrying them around in my wallet years ago, not wanting to lose them in the washing machine. So we couldn't help them with that one. Ok, no problem--then they asked if I was wearing black socks, which I was. Well they told me that they needed one of them. I told them that I didn't carry those in my wallet either, but they were insistent. Yeah right, like I'm going to give those chicks my sock. What kind of stupid-ass scavenger hunt is that? They were getting annoying and so I turned to Chris and told him that we needed to get out of there, but not before the chicks told us that since we didn't have anything on their list that we had to give them a dollar bill or a 5-dollar casino chip. That was my cue to leave, but Chris tried to offer her a two-dollar bill--but one of them started freaking out saying how seriously unlucky that two-dollar bills were and refused it. She wouldn't even touch the thing. About that time we realized that things had just gone surreal and we both looked at each other with the same confused What the Fark? look on our faces. Since any chance of intelligent conversation was shot, we kept on walking.

We wandered the casino a bit, finally finding seats in the sportsbook bar. Fuzzy Navels for him, Captain & Seven for me. He was kind enough to bring along two Monte Cristo #2's, so we lit them up, toasted the good times, and enjoyed a couple hours of cocktails, storytelling, and people watching. After about four rounds they were closing the bar down, and Chris suggested we find a pai gow table. Sounded like a good idea to me, so off we went in search of a game. There were none to be found in Paris, so we made our way to Bally's instead.

We found a $15 table right away and sat down to play. Unfortunately, the dealer went on one of those runs where they deal themselves three pair every hand and wiped me out before I got my first drink. Losing a hundred was enough for me, so I thanked Chris for the enjoyable evening and headed for the parking garage.

On my way out, I saw a girl I went to dealer school with talking on a cell phone. We chatted for just a minute, but then she asked me if I could give her a ride. No problemo--she said she needed to get to the Pecos/Lake Mead area. I said I'm not quite sure where that was, but since I live right off of Pecos and I knew that Lake Mead Pkwy went through Henderson, I thought it would be close.

Nope. Apparently, there is another Lake Mead up in North Las Vegas. Great. Only about 15 miles out of my way. Oh well, I'd already said yes. The ride was a little odd though--it's not like I knew the chick very well anyways, but trying to make conversation I never did find out where she got a dealing job, or even if she got one at all. I did however, find out how she managed to be at the Paris with no car--apparently her and her dude got into a fight and he left her there. Nice. I dropped her off in the parking lot at her complex, and he was standing outside waiting for her. I didn't want to get involved in that drama, so I took off but they started yelling at each other before she closed the car door.

Having never been to North Las Vegas before (and not really wanting to go back now that I've seen it--it seems to be pretty ghetto up there), on the way back I drove past Jerry's Nugget. I knew I had a matchplay in my LV Advisor coupon book which I keep in the glove compartment, so I stopped in hoping to make my gas money back.

I was less-than-impressed with the place, but it was nicer than say, the El Cortez. Kind of like a very poor-man's Gold Coast. There were a couple of blackjack tables open, both with $5 limits. One girl was playing by herself, so I just watched (because I know how much I hate it when I'm playing one-on-one against the dealer, doing well, and some jerkoff comes and sits down and ruins the flow of the cards). She either won or pushed every hand that I was present for, so she invited me to join her. I told her I'd wait until she lost two hands in a row, and she made another hundred bucks before I sat down.

Luckily I won my match play, and a couple hands after that, also. I bought in for just $40 and said I'd quit with a hundy, and after a few shuffles I scored big on a double down and pocketed a hundred-dollar profit. I told my new friend that I'd sit out because she was winning bigger when I wasn't playing. The cards kind of turned on her, but in the meantime I found out that she was a dancer across the street at the Palamino. Having just seen it for the first time from the outside, she confirmed my suspicions that it was indeed a dump. The cards kept getting worse and worse for her, and she lost about $400 in ten minutes or so. She was a cute girl and all, but she had the foulest mouth ever and the worst attitude I'd encountered in a long time. I can understand the occasional salty talk, even from chicks, but once it got to the point were every other word was an f-bomb and other such niceties, I decided to hit the cage. She went all gangster on me and I was afraid she might bust a cap in my ass for not playing with her. I got my cash and headed for the door, marking Jerry's Nugget off the list of places I need to visit. At least I won my pai-gow losses back.

On the way home, I saw yet another surreal sight, as I passed a block that was covered from one end to the other with bums sleeping out on the sidewalk. It was pretty chilly that night, so they were all covered from head to toe in blankets, making it look like dozens of body bags lying about. The fact that it was directly across the street from a mortuary just completed the bizarre scene. Overall, it was a very interesting evening.

I felt much better once I got back to my neighborhood. We keep our bums out of sight, and our strip clubs are much classier joints.


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