I look around the small airport and wrinkle my nose. I’d forgotten the downside to small airports: the White Trash Hospitality Area.
The hospitality area is roughly the size of a shoebox. The shoebox is crammed with sweaty, tattooed, and dangerously hairsprayed bodies, smoking and drinking like it’s their last day on Earth. But it’s not their last day on Earth. It’s an hour before flight time.
“Gimme a gin and gin; screw the tonic!” a frizzled blonde hollers to her boyfriend, Marlboro in hand.
Three college students, channeling their inner Bogart, drink Scotch on the rocks and light up cigars.
“What kind of airport is this?” a woman in lavender jeggings complains. “All they have is chips? I need a burger. Where’s the dang burger place?”
It is 9:30 in the morning.
I clutch my Suburban Housewife Book Club Selection close to my chest and try not to inhale.
“My throat burns,” I say.
“No worries,” my husband says. “It’s a nicotine car crash in here,” and hands me my boarding pass.
We settle ourselves into our seats, clack seat belts on, and wait. And wait.
“If we’re gonna sit here this long, can the cocktail cart come out?” yells someone in back of us. Applause. No cart appears.
After thirty minutes, the static sound system comes to life. “Sorry for the delay, folks. We’re just, ah, waiting for a weather report to come in from Las Vegas to clear us to fly. It’s pouring rain down there at the moment. We appreciate your patience.”
“Pouring rain?” I look at my husband in disbelief. “It’s the freaking desert. There’s no rain in the desert!”
“It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, too,” a woman behind me chimes in helpfully.
Niiice. A three-day getaway in Las Vegas and two of my “poolside with a novel” days are shot down before takeoff.
The cabbie has the worst set of dentures I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty sure they glow in the dark.
“Colorado, eh?” he rasps, weaving in and out of traffic. “I was a truck driver for 18 years and went through there all the time. Sucky winters.”
I smile politely and look out the window. Apparently, Las Vegas is where billboards come to die: Nude Girls Live! Peepshow at Planet Hollywood! Best Burlesque in Town! ZuManity: The Sexy Cirque du Soleil for Couples!
“You must see it all here,” I say, eyes glued to the billboards.
“Hell yeah, I do,” he cackles. “I tell ya, last night? I picked up these three Canadians at…dang…where was it I picked ‘em up…Oh! The Palms. These guys, they had the filthiest mouths I’ve ever heard. Total jerks, too. Just complete, mouthy jerks, drunker than heck. So they tell me that they wanna go somewhere where there’s lots of ladies, and I say, ‘Lotsa ladies, huh? I know just the place.’ So I take ‘em on the outskirts of town, to this lesbian/tranny bar, and darned if there wasn’t a coupla trannies standin’ outside and they look pretty good, all dolled up and stuff. So I dump ‘em there and drive off, fast as Hell, before they can figure what they’ve gotten into. Heh, heh.”
I shoot my husband a look that says: remind me not to piss off any cab drivers in this town.
Day 2: rain. This is actually a “working getaway” for my husband, so he’s in conferences all day. I finish my novel. I take a bath in the giant tub in our 600$-a-night Happy Birthday suite. There’s a TV in the bathroom, so I soak and watch the vice-presidential debate I missed last night. Hoo-boy. I can’t figure out who is more frightening—the leering giggler or the guy that sweats ice cubes. I sit repeatedly on the toilet that not only has a heated seat, it has a button that, when pushed, will squirt water into your nether regions and then air dry them. I am deeply in love with my hotel toilet.
I wander the casino to pursue my favorite hobby: watching people. And while Disney World is the Official Homeland of Freakshows, I think Vegas qualifies for the silver medal.
Fact: dudes love Vegas. Just love it. I watch them walk through the casino, beers in hand, grinning from ear to ear. They look like they’ve had an Aniston/Jolie sandwich. What man-crack is Vegas selling? And where can I get some?
I also notice that Asian men travel in packs. Doesn’t matter what part of Asia—Korea, India, China, Japan—all are representing here. Apparently, Vegas is like a childhood clubhouse: No Girls Allowed. They wander, like wolves, shoulder-to-shoulder. This makes me wonder. I don’t see packs of white dudes, or Hispanic dudes, or black dudes, so why do Asians travel in packs?
I meet my husband, post-conference. We immediately lose 250$ at blackjack (ps: Dealer Donna at the Monte Carlo—bad karma coming to you, skank). Most expensive “free” cocktail ever. But that’s okay. Dinner happens. Good things happen after that. It’s my husband’s birthday; all is lovely.
Day 3: Sun! I jump out of bed and run to the pool, so thrilled at the amicable weather that I ignore the magic toilet. I pretend to read a magazine and watch several women seethe at their husbands poolside. You can feel the chill, they’re so pissed.
“What’s up with the angry wives?” I ask my husband.
He takes a swig of ice water and laughs. “Easy. Those are the guys who lost big and then hit the ATM last night. And played again.”
We do not gamble today. I worry about my consistent sore throat, though. It’s been burning all weekend. Must be the smoke from the casinos. I also worry that I’m going to come home from Vegas with what my mother politely refers to as “Honeymooner’s Disease.” Apparently, my husband also loves Vegas. There are no children underfoot. I see Monistat in my future.
Day 4: Up at 4:30 am to shower, pack and catch flight in pitch black. Everyone on the flight looks like roadkill and most of them pass out before the plane even takes off. Homecoming Mission #1: pay attention to the Minxes, who yap and claw and run around like jittery dogs as soon as we hit the door. Mission #2: take a shower, because (is it only me?) just sitting on a plane makes me feel dirty and contaminated.
I look down as I slather body wash on my legs and I spy with my little eye…bites. Seven of them, to be exact, but then I look at my other leg and there’s a Whopper, right above my knee. Still covered in soap, I sprint out of the shower, yank open the bedroom door and holler to my husband, “Do NOT open the suitcases! We have bedbugs! Fuckity Fuck! Bedbugs! In a 600$ suite!”
My husband comes upstairs and takes a look at my legs. “Maybe it’s an allergy.”
“It’s not an allergy, jerkwad, it’s bedbugs. I know what these bites are—I slept at my sister’s apartment once in my 20’s.”
He doubts me, so he Googles it. Don’t Google it. Trust me. Instantly, he becomes a Believer. Affirmative on bedbugs.
“Honey, I feel feverish,” I rasp, clad in my bathrobe. “We need to boil all of the clothing and Clorox the suitcases, but after I do that, I think I need to go to bed.”
“You’re just freaking out about the bedbugs,” he says, dutifully placing the washing machine on the highest setting.
“I’m freaking out, but I think I’m going to pass out. I feel…weird.”
Before I take to my bed, I call the Aria Hotel and complain about the bedbugs. A very concerned employee asks for our room number and promises to call back. Nothing. I tweet about the bedbugs, hoping that social media will garner a response. Zippo. And then, suddenly, I am too sick to care about the damn bedbugs.
“I don’t understand!” I wail, clutching my husband’s hand and doing the hot/cold/shivers Tango. “I got my flu shot the day before we left! I can’t have the flu.”
He shuts his eyes and shakes his head. “Jesus. Baby? You do know that it takes 2-4 weeks before that flu shot kicks in, right?”
Dangit, could I get any stupider? Apparently not. But the saddest thing? Compared to other vacations, this one was a success. Gotta love low expectations.
*Afterword*: Still no response from the Aria hotel. Bedbug bites fading. After boiling our vacation duds, we realized that our clothes are now fit for Lilliputians. If you are 4-feet tall and weigh under 60 pounds, email me. I’ve got some lovely vacation apparel to send your way. That’s an expensive 3 days. Must say, though, that the cost of replacing all of our clothes pales to fumigating our entire house to kill bedbugs, so I’m semi-okay with this.
ps: Girls, Monistat is your friend.