Two Virgins In Las Vegas
by Zack Anderson, February 24, 2016
Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.
—Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Run in and f*ck just one. Walk in and f*ck ‘em all.
—From Things My Drill Sergeant Said (With His Boot Pressed Against My Neck)
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“Wanna meet some pretty ladies today, mister?” I turn to see a brown-skinned woman with a leathery Zoltec face. She should be singing ancient lullabies to dozing grandchildren about to be sacrificed to the Sun, around a slow crackling fire. Instead she’s outside Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino touting two-for-one drink coupons for a strip club/money laundering scheme called Twin Peeks. A family of four passes by: awkward teenage girl in braces and American Eagle sweatshirt, mother in a pink tank top with “Yosemite Glam” spelled out in sequins. She’s pushing a toddler in a baby stroller the size of Sudetenland while her husband leers at half-naked model-dancer-actresses wearing band-aid strips of faux cop leather. Daddy’s t-shirt reads: “World’s Best Father Partyer.” I begin to ruminate on the proper spelling but am jostled by an endless horde of tourists and hucksters, Chinese and zombies, pedophiles and retail therapy addicts. Now I know how the heavily armored Knights who galloped out to meet Genghis Khan’s rampaging horsemen felt. All that noble elan decimated by steppe masters loosing a thundercloud of arrows of all shapes and menace, cutting down the crypto-gallant knights like yesterday’s roses. As above my sweating dome on unreason a sign flickers: “By his deeds ye shall know him… Chippendale Dancers delivered straight to your room!”
This is my maiden voyage to Sin City (as best as I can remember). Dr. Zack has reappeared like a Phoenix strip mall, after recharging the ole defillibrator in a Swiss sanatorium, and is in town for a triage medical conference with my German doctor friend, Christian. It’s his first trip to Vegas too, and we pray that sticking to the buddy-system increases the odds of walking out alive, at least on the physical level, never mind the psychic scars, I mean, that’s why the Dept. of Corrections invented nightlights. Having done post-doc work back east, Christian is not unfamiliar with America but in concept and reality, and is still charmingly innocent in certain regards. For example, at his Swiss hospital he sees perhaps one gunshot wound every two years, as stabbings, beatings and the cuckoo clock despair of in-law birthday dinners are the preferred methods of genuflection.
The Strip is a fitting name, almost as good as Crazy Horse, Wolf Robe and Chief Read ‘Me and Weep (the Crow warrior who invented the express check-out lane). And a Strip it truly is: a Strip of Deathtrap Glue, designed to trap human insects; a Strip of blinking, barking neon tempting the washed yet derelict masses with EDIBLE DOG COLLARS, FOOD, SEX, FREE MONEY, CHOPPER RIDES, ALL-YOU-CAN-VOMIT BUFFETS, DARK CHOCOLATE ENEMAS, CLOWN ART BY THE POUND, CARAMEL CRAPPUCINOS, GUCCI PUCCI POOCH, SEMI-AUTOMATIC YOGA (first 20-round clip free with any anti-tank gun purchase), mad mausoleum, etc.
And I don’t mind it. In fact, I enjoy the spectacle of complete and total nonsense, as surreal and incongruous as it is. A 100-foot video screen shows dazzling Blade Runneresque images: Robot Geishas morph into the Great Wall of China shrouded in mist as a just a block away a two-storey image of a 12-inch Lobster-On-A-Stick transitions into LeBron juggling Big Macs evolves into Attack Helicopters swarming the Grand Canyon while outside of Cabo Wabo a ragged band of itinerant preachers drink Gatorade while changing their sweat-soaked hair shirts…
Christian has only a few requests. First, buffalo wings. He fell in love while at the showcase Senor Frog’s in New Haven, devouring a pirate’s ransom while drinking loganberry margaritas and nibbling a modest ten-pound trunk of Skull and Bones Chili Cheese Fries. Due to stringent EU security measures (and we’re looking at you, Frenchies!), buffalo wings are as rare on the continent as walking, breathing buffalo on the Dakota prairie. Christian sighs, remembering vacations spent trolling Europe for his one true love, exhausting savings and vacation time, patiently visiting the 3,298 American military bases scattered between Zurich and Blackfriars Bridge, London. But this is America, Herr Christian, so wash your refugee claws and dry those tears, for guess what. Das right! There’s a Buffalo Wild Wings just steps from the hotel, and it’s open 24-hours a day, 365-days a year, for here until the next eternity begins. That’s how America does it clam rolls!
The Wild Wings menu comes with a local guide/interpreter for an extra $10 ($9.99 with a valid Guatemalan photo ID). But as we are triage experts in a combat situation, we lock and load on the Traditional Classic Medium Spicy, and for dessert enjoy the Garlic Rub-A-Grub Temple of Taste, with complimentary napalm-scented towelettes… because Wild Wings supports the, um, troops.
And speaking of several lifetimes ago, on my thirteenth birthday my father gave me Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas. Like all great pieces of art, it ruined my life (not that I needed much coaxing); and such exquisite ravaging should be required reading for all Americans, Canadians, and refugees from Caesar’s Palace (if you think this is bad, wait until Nero takes his shift). And just as my dad planned, Hunter S. Thompson’s masterpiece sent me scurrying to the Fort Despair Library where, beneath a pile of warm shell casings and a dog-eared copy of the Anarchist Gluten-Free Cookbook, it had the first of at least two Eureka moments I’ve enjoyed. It was, as they say, the motherlode: glittering like nuggets freshly dipped in sizzling free range bacon grease were Miss Lonelyhearts, The Magic Christian, and The Loved One. A neo-Holy Trinity stacked like $500 poker chips on the serpentine curves of a showgirl named Blossom. J-J-Jackpot! Perhaps Fear and Loathing is not high lit, but maybe it’s the highest. If we only had a vantage point to gain proper perspective… I know, Christian! Let’s check out the view from atop Twin Peeks…
(Next week: the Triage Twins venture north (or maybe sideways) on Las Vegas Blvd in search of meaning tacos, bungee jumping, and tattoo parlors. You can’t play if you don’t win.)