On my last day here in Las Vegas (waiting out the hours before a dreaded red-eye back to NY), I sit in the opulently appointed Ball Room section of the Encore Hotel. This and its sister hotel, the Wynn, are easily my favorite part of Las Vegas. There’s less cheesiness, less of a theme-park feel. It’s decadently over-the-top, but in a classier way. It’s not trying to be something it’s not, or bend a theme into a caricature. The Venetian is, at this point, dated, and while suites are nice, I’m not sure they’re all that much better.
The trip is almost over, assuming that Hurricane Irene has had the courtesy to move aside and allow me to return to NY this evening. The verdict on Vegas? I came, I saw, and there’s no need for me to ever do it again. I won some, I lost some, and in the end just about broke even (not counting a bit of shopping, but I have some amazing Hugo Boss shoes and a Tallia jacket to show for it, as well as a bottle of cologne from Barney’s). I tried my hand at the Roulette wheel and did surprisingly well, lost a bit at the slot machines, but had fun doing both. The truth is that I’m not a gambling man, which makes a Vegas trip largely an exercise in futility.
That said, it is something that everyone should do at least once, and this was my turn. On a deeper level, the fact that Las Vegas failed to impress me is indicative of the kind of guy I am – and it’s decidedly not Vegas. I just don’t have it in me. Even my everyday style is wrong for this city – with the possible exception of a few sequins or a feather boa or two, but the vibe I got was that had I been wearing them I would have gotten my ass kicked. For the Strip, my style did not fit in, and neither did gay men as a whole.
Unless they’re on stage, they don’t quite seem to belong in this city (I might have heard more “faggot” or derogatory “gay” comments – not directed at me – than I have anywhere else in recent memory). In spite of that, I don’t think I saw a single gay person in all my time here. Granted, I didn’t seek out the gay clubs or wander the Fruit Loop, but surely there are a couple of homos slumming it with their straight friends – how could I be the only one?
The drinking thing was fun to see at first, much like New Orleans, but on a city-wide scale, and the novelty wears off quickly enough. This was not how I preferred to enjoy a cocktail. Yes, it was a kick to get free screwdrivers intermittently delivered by inattentive wait-staff (despite decent tips), but the whole drinking-on-the-strip thing is not necessary for me. A proper cocktail is an art form – to be savored in slow, deliberate enjoyment, not out of a 3-foot-tall plastic sippy bong while stumbling along a crowded street.
Maybe a few years ago Vegas would have been a better fit. Right now, it was a fun diversion, but I’m glad I don’t have to go back any time soon. I think part of it was that a lot of friends had extolled its virtues, and I was eager to join them, to be part of the crowd, to fit in where and when I never could. I have to accept that I’m not a Vegas boy – or Showgirl for that matter – and I never will be. So much of my life, admitted or not, has been about trying to fit in – I’m still waiting to be okay with the fact that it may never happen.
Here, alone in the vast, beautiful hallway of this hotel, I sit and ponder how it is that the more I try to be like everyone else, the less I am. Who would have guessed that Las Vegas could force such an existential crisis, albeit it a resignedly happy one?Back to Blog