I could write a book about six days worth of people-watching in Las Vegas.
The place is a literal jackpot of stories being carried around on the weary and wide-eyed faces of travelers, transients, and old-timers. The tales are told in their strides and their stumbles, in the way they dress and drink and gamble and grouse. For a person who spends her days creating characters and scenes and motives, it has been stimulating to say the least.
But I have to confess, one of the most interesting characters I found myself watching this week was me.
I have always maintained travel brings out the purest of our natures: Are you flexible, patient, organized, open to new things? Easily intimidated, uncomfortable out of a routine, impossibly befuddled with the kind of plan-ahead task that adequately covers packing a bag? A trip - any trip - will magnify these qualities.
There was nothing new for me on that front this week. I am still hopelessly lost in front of an open suitcase, barely able to discern up from down in unfamiliar physical surroundings, and fearlessly committed to embracing my own brand of adventure on the road...which never involves daring or danger, but often involves ice cream.
This week, I was taken aback by the evidence that alcohol was top on my tourist's culinary exploration itinerary - not ice cream. I have had drinks over the last six days made with everything from pear puree to rose water - applejack brandy to red bell pepper. The beverages have been presented steaming hot, over ice, up, and frozen. Garnished with a plastic lid, a 1/2 inch diameter straw, a lime, Thai basil, a pepper slice. Some have cost $20...and one was free (yay us for staying at a roulette table long enough to get a drink!).
Observation: Alcohol is like ice cream to me when it's presented in venues that are bright, glittery, colorful, intriguingly themed, and open 'round the clock. Which is to say, if it's shiny - I'm in. You can count on me to wander into any place and try almost anything if it's sparkly. And, oh my...the bars are sparkly here.
The most telling adventure of the week, though, has been the gambling. It is not presented in a sparkly way. In fact, every casino looks like a health class poster on depravity. They are dingy and filled with cigarette smoke and often dotted with barely dressed young girls dancing on tables...although very few patrons bother to notice any of that.
People in these places are all hovering over stacks of chips that are moved to and fro across felted greenscapes. They are sweating over cards, blowing on dice, or holding their breaths while a little white ball spins around the outer edge of what becomes an actual wheel of fortune - or misfortune. I made myself stop to observe and play - all in the name of research. Here's what I learned...
I am not a card counter or an odds analyzer. I'm more of a lucky number, bet large/win large kind of gambler. It's embarrassing when $50 is gone in 5 minutes, but not at all surprising when I think about who I am outside of a casino.
I live life a little on the woo woo edge. I embrace the mystery of the universe, the presence of God, the ultimate goodness of people. Almost every day, for me, is a lucky number. I am moody and unpredictable and perhaps a bit fickle. No surprise that I am a person who bets on lucky numbers rather than proven odds. The outcome is less calculable, but the excitement is more real.
I am also easily bored. Small bets and small wins are just not the way I walk through my days. I support the underdog, almost always. I wait until near calamity is on the line before I look up at a deadline. I try new recipes when company is coming. I buy shoes online without knowing if they are comfortable (c'mon, admit it, shoe shopping is SO boring).
Observation: I am turning this button from a slot machine into my life's motto.
If you know me, you are nodding your head right now. Spin/ReBet: The Story of Jan.
Does this make me the most coveted/dangerous/likely addicted gambler in LasVegas? Probably.
Thank God I married the "I'm making a spreadsheet to predict the best roulette wagers" guy. And thankfully, he rarely leaves my side.
Todo esta bien.
Leaving Las Vegas.
Now...time to turn toward Bethlehem.