Leaving Las Vegas, Soon
(From Las Vegas, Nevada)
Perhaps it would be different if I enjoyed gambling, drinking or Celine Dion, but I’m no fan of Las Vegas.
This is my third time here, always on business. To me the city feels uneasy, depressed and overstimulated, high tech and archaic at the same time. I feel disheartened at the site of sullen, unsocial people staring into computerized slot machines, smoking and drinking their breakfast. I see no joy on display in the gambling ritual. Even the bars seem gloomy. There’s nothing jubilant in the drinking I see in Las Vegas. The business people at adjacent tables seem like seasonal friends, trying hard to show they are having fun. No one is really here together. Most are thrown together on business tips. Everyone loves to say they love Las Vegas, but to me it seems like a supposedly fun thing I need never try again.
Perhaps it’s just the tenor of the casinos I’m in. The game room in my hotel is almost empty, a poorly lit cavern watched over by mirthless senior employees, with loud rock music and machines with no players. It’s easy to imagine one of these old timers telling a story about a mob boss who was killed in the parking lot, his ghost haunting the sad and empty casino and keeping it from prospering. Tourists have seen him, wandering sadly, probably on my floor.
Perhaps the spirit in some of the bigger hotels and more occupied casinos is higher. One of the city’s big complexes, The Bally, is right across the street and on its opposite side it opens out onto The Strip. I’ve been over there, and the tone changes. Where there are more table games and fewer machines, it’s very possible the human joy quotient is higher. I’m not motivated to find out. I had dinner with my colleagues well away from the lights last night, and tonight I hope to stay within a block or two of the hotel for a quiet meal, followed by packing and an early bedtime. I have a dawn flight tomorrow. The Las Vegas airport is hectic and troublesome, and I leave on a day that will see large crowds. But I’m eager to get there early, put security behind me, and sit at my gate. I’m going an hour or two earlier than any sensible person would and I’ll spend the extra time reading, with the city at my back. I like Las Vegas best when it’s in the rear view mirror.
I do think a western desert city, any city other than Vegas, has a chars. I like the big open cloudless sky and the feeling of vast distances. The city looks deceptively small because you can see for miles. I like the moderate winter temperature and dry air and think it might be good for the constitution. On a short trip here, dehydration, dry eyes and lips, are a bother. You wake up dried out. But generally I feel fitter in a dry warm city and even with my limited time outside of the hotel womb, I have a sense of why people would enjoy living in a arid Western city. I can’t imagine what a person so uninterested in the entertainment culture of Las Vegas would do here year round. I could live in the desert. Just not in this particular outpost.