I arrived in Las Vegas for the first time as everyone does, as a sin city virgin. At least that what I was being called by others that had been to this unique city before. It didn’t bother me, but I wanted to make sure I left with an insight and knowledge equal to a seasoned Vegas goer. No, not strippers, booze and fornication. I was thinking something more classic, more ‘Rat Pack’ style; a night on the town, dress up a little, gamble. You know, Old Vegas. For the most part I did pretty well.
The reason I was in Las Vegas in the first place was because I was attending an educational forum for travel agents.
As with most events like this, I had free time built in. On my first free evening, I grabbed my camera and decided to go see the lights and magic of the strip. I walked from the Venetian to New York New York and, to my surprise, managed to walk my way through the world. I saw the canals of Venice, the Eiffel Tower, the Trevi Fountain and all kinds of sculptures, lakes and treasures from Europe.
As I made my way back to the United States I passed the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and the Chrysler Building. Not bad for a few hours of walking. It was really cool and quite interesting, except I’ve been fortunate enough to see the originals of these places and attractions and they are so much better in reality. Nonetheless, I enjoyed taking a walk through the world.
As much as I enjoyed the evening, it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I was still looking for the Rat Pack. Little did I know at the time, but the hotel I was staying in was built where the Sands used to be. The Sands, of course, was where Dean Martin played all those years ago. Also, I walked past the famous Flamingo hotel, built by none other than ‘Bugsy’ Siegel. Unaware of the history right around me, I went back to my hotel room still seeking some magic. Old Las Vegas. Fortunately I found what I was looking for the very next night.
My group was being taken by bus to Fremont Street. I didn’t know what that meant, or where we were going, but it involved free food and alcohol and a large party, so I was in. Turns out, Fremont Street is a little bit of old Vegas. A few old hotels with their neon signs, the Golden Nugget, Stratosphere and parts of the old strip; awesome. I could just see Dean Martin drinking and playing craps here. After we ate and got a little tipsy on jello shots, my friend and I decided to go to play craps. I don’t gamble. Sure, I’ve put a quarter into a slot machine and five bucks on a roulette table, but I don’t know the rules or honestly see the point. But I was more than happy to watch her play. Truly though, I think I had the most memorable and fun experience of that night.
Next to us was a young man playing the game and I was attracted to him instantly. Not sexually, although I’m sure it would disappoint him to hear me say that. He was friendly, funny, kind and witty. My friend played for a couple of hours, and as we waited for the dice to come around to us to throw, this man and I got acquainted. He made me laugh, and for just a little while I felt like we could’ve been in Monte Carlo and I was eye candy on the arm of James Bond. When the dice finally came our way, although I never voiced my thoughts to him, he picked up the dice, held them up to me and asked me to blow on them for good luck. It was a good role. He was elated and responded with ‘Thanks, Doll.’ The fantasy was complete. Just for a moment I was dressed up in a long sequin gown with white gloves and diamonds on my hands. I was the doll on the arm of a spy for the British Secret Service. But alas, on the next role he crapped out. I guess I’m not good luck after all. Now mind you, I am certainly not eye candy by any stretch of the imagination, and he was not Pierre Brosnan or Daniel Craig, but I will always be grateful for the way he made me feel that night. Partly because of him I’d found Old Vegas. Where people dressed up to go to the casino and dinner, with Dino singing in the background, and just for a moment I was one of them.
One of these days I’m certain I will return to Las Vegas. I know that due to the amazing diversity there, I’ll see and experience something new every time, but in my heart the glamour of Vegas will stay with me. I drove home the next day and couldn’t resist playing some Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra from my itunes. New York, New York, how appropriate.