One of the great things about living in the Bay Area is that I’m only 2 1/2 hours from Tahoe by car and 1 1/2 hours from Vegas by plane, which means several times a year I take the opportunity to cultivate my drinking and gambling addictions and hand over all my money to the nice people with the garter scrunchies around their biceps.
Recently, my friend Kenny and I decided to take a trip to Tahoe for a weekend of inhaling second hand smoke and drinking the bottom shelf liquor they bring you while blowing through your savings. For those of you who haven’t been to Tahoe, the casinos there are just like Vegas casinos except there is no magician-eating tigers or European architecture, and instead of dressing up like their attending a New Year’s Eve gala like they do in Vegas, Tahoe casino-goers dress not unlike people who go to the mall to get an Orange Julius.
If you live in an igloo or a cornfield in Iowa and have never been to either place, here is a quick-reference guide for you:
THE VENETIAN AT LAS VEGAS
THE NUGGET AT LAKE TAHOE
THE VEGAS EXPERIENCE
THE TAHOE EXPERIENCE
Don’t get me wrong, I love Tahoe. It’s beautiful. I’m just saying, casino-wise, the difference between Vegas and Tahoe is like the difference between watching men’s and women’s sports: one expresses the majesty of peak performance and is wildly entertaining, and the other is mildly amusing and only witnessed when the batteries go dead in the channel changer.
For whatever reason, I always forget why I turn down my friend Kenny’s invitations to hang out together, until we actually do hang out and then I remember it’s because Kenny is a conspiracy theory nutcase who believes that the government and large corporations have the ability to control the outcome of everything, from the Superbowl to what color gumball comes out of the gumball machine at the grocery store. I’ve tried to assure him that Walmart, The Vampires Guild, Hitler, as well as BP and Exxon have already executed truckloads of studies and have declared that conspiracies and their theories to be non-existent, but he doesn’t think I’m very funny. “Besides,” he says, “those people would have paid for those studies to be done.” Touche, Kenny.
A cocktail party with Kenny isn’t so bad, as you are only subjected to a few hours of hearing how Jagermeister contains blood, but committing to an entire weekend is another story altogether. Here’s what that looks like:
1. On the ride up to Tahoe, Kenny tells me that I should buy an electric car so as to cease supporting the evil empire of oil companies. I tell him that I will certainly consider his advice as soon as he stops driving his mom’s Pontiac and/or offers to pitch in for gas money for once in his life since he never offers to drive.
2. Upon arriving at Tahoe we stop by a Safeway to pick up some items and Kenny tells me not to use my Safeway club card because the government is gathering information about my buying interests so they can flood me with product suggestions. I tell him that it would indeed be horrific for someone to offer me something based on things I like.
3. As we pull into the Harrah’s parking lot, Kenny tells me to park away from the street lights, in the shadows of the parking lot, so the cameras can’t see us getting in and out of our car. I inform him that this is not Oceans Eleven and that it doesn’t matter if they know where our car is because it’s not a getaway car.
4. While walking through the casinos, Kenny provides me with a ten minute history lesson concerning the black underworld of organized gambling and the corruption it causes. He pauses halfway through the lesson to deposit $20 worth of quarters into a slot machine, which he kicks with his boot when he loses, which gets us thrown out of Harvey’s.
5. Upon losing $100 playing Texas Holdem at the poker tables, Kenny suggests that the dealer, having rolled a card on the river that gave Kenny’s opponent a winning full house, was probably the nephew of the guy who planned the Kennedy assassination.
6. Kenny spends 14 hours playing Keno and complaining that the computer knows which numbers he has picked and is therefore able to instruct the little vacuum tube to suck up ping pong balls containing numbers other than his. When I ask him why he doesn’t stop playing, he says that it’s worth the free drinks even though they probably add small quantities of cocaine to keep the customers awake and gambling longer.
That’s me wearing the dark glasses and praying that someone will stab me in the throat with a large pointy shiv. That’s Kenny in the background filling out his 456th Keno ticket.
Upon arriving home on Sunday, I had the words “NEVER EVER GO ANYWHERE WITH KENNY EVER EVER EVER AGAIN!” carved into my forearm with a steak knife. I have since taken to online gambling and have come to realize that online casino games are where it’s at. The air is clean, the drinks are cocaine-free and I can play in my underwear and scratch myself whenever I want without worrying about the pit boss coming over and warning me to keep my hands out of my pants. Simple pleasures, people. Don’t ever underestimate the simple pleasures of gambling alone in your house, in your underwear, while your kids are at school and your wife is at work.
Cheers, until next time. And good luck!