Sunday, December 11, 2005

A Night That Probably Shouldn't Be Repeated

I was having a nice casual relaxing Saturday, resting my burnt-out voice and trying to recover from a minor head cold that's been plaguing me all week. Then my pal Doc Al decided to make the trek down from the frozen northern Viking territories and pay me a visit. Actually, it was him and his buddy Johnny (who's real name should be 'Bad Influence') who are out here for a couple of days of Vegas buffoonery and invited me to join them last night.

So I showered, shaved, and made myself pretty, then drove down to the Four Seasons of Fremont Street, the El Cortez. The plan was to meet for dinner at Roberta's, their 'fine dining' establishment. Doc and Johnny hadn't arrived at the bar outside the restaurant by the time I got there, so I purchased a bottle of Michelob and took a wander thru the casino, thinking that the combination of Michelob and clean clothes might mark me as a high roller, as opposed the the other folk drinking out of paper bags and such.

It was early on a Saturday evening, and the colorful characters that populate the ElCo were already out in force. There were so many interesting folks lurking about that I totally missed Al and Johnny when I walked by them at the roulette table. That's ok, they found me just a couple minutes later and we headed back over to Roberta's, hoping that some of it's class might rub off on us.

We had no reservations, but got seated immediately. And I've got to admit, as much as I bag on the El Cortez, it's really not that bad. It's just that it's location is more conducive to attracting the 'salt of the earth' type of clientele which give it an extra seediness that it wouldn't have if it were in a different neighborhood. Regardless, Roberta's is actually a pretty nice place--one of the nicer downtown restaurants, I've discovered. While the atmosphere falls short of elegant, it is certainly a surprisingly quiet and relaxing oasis, and still manages to be a pretty good steakhouse, with prices guaranteed to keep the riff-raff out.

A quick perusal of the menu yielded the same results for all three of us--we were going with the prime rib. Doc also had a coupon for a free bottle of wine, and we chose a Merlot in a corked container, instead of the screw-on ones we'd seen some of the casino patrons swigging from earlier.

The wine arrived along with our salads and some warm bread and butter. It was all very good and we passed the time telling stories and laughing our asses off. I think the goal was to make each other laugh so hard that we either cried or wet ourselves, and we came pretty close a few times.

The meat arrived shortly thereafter, and believe me when I tell you that our dinner came from some very large cows. To say it was a generous portion would be a complete understatement. In addition to the large slabs of prime rib, we each got a serving of sauteed mushrooms and a baked potato. The food was actually very good--much better than I anticipated. And the horseradish was the pure industrial-strength stuff--not cut with sour cream or any other mellowing agents. Being typical morons, we had to outdo each other and between the fits of laughter and having our eyes water from all the horseradish, it looked like we were just sitting at the table happily blubbering away.

We were much too stuffed for dessert, and thanks to Doc Al's free booze coupon, the total tab was only $51 for the three of us. Quite the bargain. And the food was much better than the menu offerings from the Center Stage restaurant down the street at the Plaza, which has a reputation (although slipping) of being one of the better steak joints downtown.

After we paid the bill and wiped away the last of our tears, we waddled back out into the casino. The first order of business was to take over a $5 pai gow table. Of course it was back-and-forth gambling-wise, but we took advantage of the ElCo's quick cocktail service and made our way through a bottle of the Captain for about an hour before deciding it was time to move on.

We hit the cage, then got the Ghetto Sled out of the garage and headed out for more slumming--this time the ultimate destination being North Las Vegas and all of it's low-rent goodness. Of course since it was the weekend, we took a detour down East Fremont street just to watch the human drama unfold, and weren't disappointed to see some of Sin City's finest handcuffing a couple of perps to the grill of a police car in the 7-11 parking lot while they 'interviewed' one of the nice girls with bleached hair and high heels who scratched out a living on that stretch of road.

Saturday night in Vegas--Good times!

After the sightseeing part of the expedition had been covered, we made our way down to Jerry's Nugget with the idea of burning up some matchplays and having a few more laughs. We accomplished both, in spades. Our first order of business was to hit the blackjack table with our matchplay coupons, but the dealer pulled a 20 or 21 dang near every hand, and we quit less than halfway through the shoe, humbled, but looking for revenge.

We found it at the dice table.

We bought in with our remaining chips, and I immediately set out on a monster roll. Of course I played too conservatively, but made a small comeback. Once I made my fourth or fifth point, the rookie stickman started telling me that I could no longer set the dice, that I had to just pick 'em up and roll 'em. Fark that--they wouldn't have said a word if I'd been losing so I took my bets down and sevened-out a few rolls later. We didn't much care for the fact that they were sweating the money so hard, so we colored up with our profits and headed for the cage, having no reason to ever go back and visit the place. At least I took them for about $180. Heh--take that, bitches!

As we were leaving the casino, Johnny pointed out that there was the Palomino club right across the street. Knowing that we'd probably never get the chance to visit again, instead of heading to the car, we walked over to see what kind of talent would be on display on a Saturday night in N. Las Vegas.

We were a bit disappointed when we got inside and the sign said Long Haired Freaky People Need Not Apply, er, I mean "Non-Nevada ID $30 Cover Charge". I immediately voiced my displeasure with a two word rejoinder, something along the lines of 'Fark this!' and we started to turn back around, but the Goodfella in charge of the place immediately went into damage-control mode and offered us a 'special for you guys only' and let us in for the bargain price of $20 which included our first two drinks. Feeling flush from our winnings at the dice table, a twenty-spot seemed like a reasonable price to be to see nekkid chicks and have a couple of drinks.

The velvet rope parted, down the hall we went, through the curtain, and into what could only be described as 'if the Barbary Coast were a strip club, this is what it would look like'. Lots of red velvet and dark wood. Of course the talent line-up left a little to be desired--I'd seen a better looking group of women down at the DMV while getting my tags renewed, so we opted to just sit and watch the show and enjoy our two-drink minimum.

The first highlight of our visit came when a surgically enhanced Asian dragon lady sat on Doc Al's lap and started giving him the grind/sales pitch. She had freakishly large hands, so Johnny and I had to throw a little smack his way and tell him to check for an Adam's Apple and outdoor plumbing. She made the play for all three of us, but Doc made the rookie mistake of giving her his real name. Of course whenever I go to 'the ballet' I tell the girls that my name is Sid. That's been my stage name for years. Johnny knows the rules too, and told all the ladies that his name was Carl. A few more visits and we'll have Al up to speed.

But she couldn't stay long on Doc's lap, as shortly thereafter it was her turn on the stage. She said goodbye, but he asked the waitress to change a ten-spot into a bunch of singles for him.

Of course our opinion of her improved when she started her stage-time by pole dancing to Fire Woman by The Cult. Doc took a couple of singles with him and grabbed a seat on Sniffer's Row, while 'Carl' and I were content to just sip on our libations and enjoy the show from afar. Of course a couple of other gals came by and made the pitch, but since we were experienced strip club veterans, they were rebuffed.

After a few minutes, Doc came back to the table, but he didn't stay long. Apparently, he had an appointment in the Champagne Room.

"Great", said Johnny. "We ain't never gettin him outta there..."

We watched the stage show for a few more minutes, but then a tiny package of Asian hotness found her way to my lap, and after a song or two she had convinced me to part with some of my craps winnings and accompany her to the VIP room.

I left a twenty-spot with 'Carl' to get some more drinks, and upstairs we went.

I won't bore you all with the details, but I can clearly attest that a half-hour in the VIP room is a great way to dispose of ill-gotten gains from the dice tables. I came back downstairs with my shirt buttoned wrong, and if I had any hair, it would've been messed up. Thinking back, I probably should've tipped the girl with a bottle of Zicam. She's probably gonna wake up with a cold today...

Doc had made his way back to the table by that time, and Johnny had his hands full fending off a nice girl with more tattoos than teeth, so we decided it was probably a good time to end our evening at the Palomino. Actually Doc decided that when the ATM stopped giving him money.

We laughed our way out of there and back across the street to the casino to fetch the car. Overall, we really had a great time there at the Palomino, as it had a great ratio of seediness/what you could get away with, even though they gouge a little more than they could if they were anywhere but Vegas. I guess I'll just have to bring my brother David out here to get his opinion. He's a worldwide expert on Strip Clubs, and could probably write a decent travel guide on the subject if his wife wouldn't beat his ass for doing so. (Sorry for throwing you under the bus dude, but that whole 'blind guy at the strip club' story was a brilliant stroke of genius that I never get tired of telling...)

Since we'd all split up for a bit while in there, the ride back to Fremont Street was a hilarious re-telling of our experiences from three different perspectives. I swear I was laughing so hard that it was almost impossible to drive.

We finally made it back to the valet at the Fitz, where Al and Johnny were staying, and headed up to the room. Johnny and Al needed to hit the room safe for more funds, and all three of us somehow felt the need to wash our hands (and I think Doc probably had to wash his face, too...) The biggest laugh came when I walked out of the bathroom and announced "Ok--tomorrow morning's contest is to figure out 'Which washcloth didn't get used...' "

Once the funds were replenished and the cheap perfume was scrubbed off, we headed back downstairs and outside. The first order of business was another round of drinks, but Johnny made the bad decision to go to one of the vendors outside that specialized in 'flair' bartenders. You know, they type that take five minutes to pour a drink because they have to display their mad bottle-tossing skills. We just wanted a drink and kept yelling for the guy to knock it off and just pour the damn drinks, but he would have none of that. We finally got a round of Captain and Cokes, and at least the circus bartender put a chunk of dry ice in each of our glasses, so they had a little smokey volcano action going as we wandered back down towards the El Cortez.

No pai gow or prime rib this time. After our monster run at Jerry's Nugget, we wanted to play dice again. Unfortunately, none of us could roll worth a damn and it was back-to-back-to-back episodes of Point-Seven Out. Ugh. Nasty table.

Doc and Johnny decided that they wanted to go to the Plaza and play poker, but I was getting very tired and had left my jacket in the back seat of my car at the Fitz, so I didn't want to walk all the way down to the Plaza freezing my ass off. I decided to stay at the ElCo and try to make a little money back at the dice tables. So we said our goodbyes, with plans to get together again tonight.

They shuffled off to the Plaza, and I gave the dealer $27 and told him to put me on every number.

Seven out!

Too tired to chase down Al and Johnny, I just walked back to the Fitz and got my car, drove home, took some medicine, and went to bed.

I'm hoping that tonight's adventures are nothing like last night's. I don't know if I could survive it.


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