When I first came to Las Vegas, I was overcome by what is called culture shock.
Back then, in our mid-twenties, we young women were in the US for a three-week holiday. I only knew Vegas from TV series, but I hadn't given it much thought, even though we all knew that a big show awaited us there. The many hotels and casinos, the artificial buildings, fountains and monuments all seemed exaggerated and grotesque to me, and the obvious replicas of other earthly places and sights seemed ridiculously attention-seeking.
Entering town by car.
The screaming colours, the never-ending jingling one-armed bandits in the lobbies, the constant grinning of the artists, divas, transvestites and the ever-flowing tourists, the luxury, the fun, it was all too much for me after just one day. I longed to get away from this place.
We stayed for three days and watched some of the evening shows, went around the famous hotels, tried to find our way around where we could eat and eventually collapsed exhausted in our hotel room, in Caesar's Palace.
It wasn't until years later, when I had become accustomed to the idea and what Vegas had come to represent to me,
that visits to the sinful city had turned into a place for gambling, a distraction from the ordinary, a deliberately artificial world full of showiness, waste and cheap knock-offs that can nevertheless be highly expensive.
Feeling like God in France for once as an ordinary person began to amuse me. Precisely because I didn't have endlessly stuffed trouser pockets in which the banknotes flowed all too abundantly, the excitement of walking around with more money than had gone in was particularly appealing. Winning is just great! So is losing. Only there's less whooping.
On our way to Las Vegas through the desert. Lookin' forward! It's the year 2003
I began to find Vegas quite to my liking,
to accept that the few days I would be there would be entirely and solely for the overload of the senses.
There aren't many places that I would say you either love or hate, but the city in the desert is one of them for me. Although hate and love have very fluid boundaries anyway, and one can certainly make a psychological profile of why the hate was so strong on my first visit. HaHa!
The Puritan in me probably resisted these all too obviously acted out sins and would have preferred it to be a little more covert and less showy. The elegant woman also doesn't like it very much when the shrillness comes shamelessly at her and turns her snobbishly raised nose away.
In any case, all of us women got an idea of how it can be when you have problems with being able to fully engage in such experiences. The overly sin-laden will then want to leave the city in a roundabout way, without being seen coming out of its direction.
But what an extraordinary time I had, when I let go of shyness and shame,
when I let myself fall into the arms of the city without reservation. With two good friends, my lover and a very good friend whom I had known for some years, we made our way through the night. We lost the rest of the party-crowd somewhere. Fittingly to break up the psychological and physical armour that all civilians build up over the years, that is; all humans hold certain reins of self-control, I first had to get rid of those pesky chaperones inside me. In doing so, consciousness exhilarating substances hold in very nice measure.
We drifted through the streets and ended up in a strangely empty huge hotel lobby, an enormous domed roof spanning our heads, at our feet a beautiful decadent marble floor on whose bare surface we began to tap-dance as we thought we heard echoes returning our joyful steps and shouts.
I felt like the Queen of Sheba, young, beautiful and with the two nicest men in company I could have imagined at the time. I felt my youth with every laugh, with every movement of my hips, I felt it in the looks of the men, the women, and everyone I met that night. Since I too found all creatures deeply beautiful, and had I been able, I would have loved them all.
Back in one of the casinos,
we took a seat at one of the many bars and ordered drinks. A dark eyed woman approached us and I, who must have seemed very welcoming to everyone, smiled at her. But my friend said, "No, she's not for us. She's a prostitute." And I said, "So what? Why not have a little chat?" But J. and C. were unanimous in preferring to shield me from her, although she said "if the girl is in, I'll make an extra price." I laughed and was indeed flattered, though it was only the thought of such a nefariousness. I was far too funny for that.
But he does, of course, because I had decided that no one could resist my charm, simply because I wouldn't have wanted to, not by any means, but loosely from the hip.
We took the tram that shuttled between hotels, jumped out at random places. We rode up and down the mirrored lifts, always meeting new passengers whom we infected with an easy mood.
Sorry, no footage from the fun times. We were too busy having them instead of taking photos. What you see here is a shot from less shown sides of Las Vegas.
We fed the slot machines with wafers and the bells rang out our winnings. I won more than I lost that night and filled the jingling coins, which streamed through the slots "ding, ding, ding", into large plastic cups, which I then exchanged for crackling dollar notes.
So we roared through the clubs, making random acquaintances of a deliciously superficial nature, knowing we would have the most terrible hangover the next day, tired to the bone, making our way home, over the freeway, through the mountains towards Anza and then back to the valley of Palm Desert.
After Vegas, I welcomed such trips to casinos,
as they were an exception to everyday life and it is the rare occasion that makes an experience outstanding.
At the invitation of our parent agency, then Scholz & Friends, with whom the agency I worked for was under contract, there was a big hello at the German Travemünde casino. Where, after a feudal meal, we were each handed a fifty-euro bill and used it to have fun at the roulette table. My colleague at work and I had a little fling with each other and decided to enjoy the evening as Mister and Mrs., in agreement without speaking it out loud, that it would be those few hours, no more.
We split the minds of our colleagues into those who smilingly indulged us in our fun and those who considered us immoral, since we both had steady partners at the time. The next day in the office I told spontaneously what "we had done yesterday" and thus took most of the wind out of the sails of the conversations going on behind closed doors. If you're going to be the subject of gossip, at least tell the story yourself unashamed.
Was it a bluff or not?
It's all part of me, gambling. You can see my love for card games in particular here in this post of mine. Black Jack, Durak, Mau-Mau are games I play with devotion and great fun.
You have a reality bite to tell? Got to The Ink Well and check out how to participate and what is this weeks prompt.
All pictures are mine.