Pool

Las Vegas is a city with no poetry.

When people suggest going there, I groan inside, usually followed by a lengthy protest. “Eh…I don’t know…,” I hem and haw, not wanting to hurt the person’s feelings but still wanting to make my dislike abundantly clear.

When people ask me what I think of it, the first word that comes to mind is “fake.” The second is “flyers for hookers” (I know, more than one word). The third is “bad decisions,” “liquor,” and “staying up past my bedtime,” all in one fell swoop. The fourth is “I hate the desert.”

Then there are the casinos brimming with smoke, gambling and drinking. I do none of these. I’m no teetotaler, I’m just a non-smoking alcoholic who is terrible at gambling because I have no luck. Insult to injury, my math skills are rusty when no scrap paper and pencil are available. Gambling feels like grabbing a fistful of cash and tossing it in the air during a monsoon.

So there’s not much for me to do there, as a married, sober lady with poor luck who can’t even play roulette. Who thinks 9 p.m. is late. Whose idea of a good time is a book and a quiet room.

So when Mike asked me if I wanted to accompany him to Sin City on his business trip, I hemmed and hawed. I protested that I had work to do, that we’d be spending money we didn’t have, yada, yada.

When I came to my senses, I realized that logging a few days in a classy hotel with multiple pools and a gym can’t be all bad.

Pink Lanterns

Now, as an eternal nerd, I can extract a lesson from any life event. The lesson I learned on this trip is that there is poetry in Las Vegas. You have to look closely, but it’s there. I think the fact that I was the only sober person over the age of fifteen probably sharpened my vision.

The poetry you find in Vegas is that of Hunter S. Thomson. It’s many things, but mostly it’s something dark disguised as fun.

Sofa

I first noticed it in the lobby of our ultra-chic hotel. The hotel itself was a sophisticated traveler’s paradise. Superlatively modern design, no detail overlooked, no luxury too minor for this hotel. The lobby bar looked as if a sulky-hipster Alice in Wonderland and tight-jean-wearing March Hare and fedora-clad Mad Hatter would pop up and offer me a pull on their hookah. With James Bond. Music of the sort you might hear at a club after hours played on omnipresent speakers, along with coordinated digital artwork and videos. All of humanity walked through that lobby, the entire spectrum represented as we waited for our room key.

columns

During this overwhelming spectacle, I noticed the pristine white end tables next to the tufted sofas. They had grit between the glass surface and the frame, as if the night crew didn’t do a thorough cleaning job.

Sparkly Bar

Then, I saw the dark spots on the armchairs, where the antimacassars would go if we lived in an age when antimacassars were still de rigueur. Oil from hair and skin had seeped into the plush fabric, and the dim light did its best to hide the evidence. Humans, in all their dirtiness, had spent hours and days here, despite the sleek effort to appear impervious.

I spent the rest of my time in Vegas looking for it. That, and soaking in the hotel tub.

tub


Comments

Las Vegas, City with No Poetry — 46 Comments

  1. The hotel inside looks quite fancy but you did say that. They make money from gambling, don’t they?Celine Dione our Canadian singer lives there as far as I know or used to.

  2. Fantastic as ever, Natalie…I honestly believe this should be the motto for Vegas: sex, explosions, stimulants, sin, and a bit of dark poetry. The city also has no lure for me, yet you made it sound interesting. I used to think that Stephen King was only a plot writer, but found that he has his own poetic language at times…maybe not like J. Joyce and Ireland…but then again, some people like explosions and explicit sex. I like subtle beauty and complex characters and poetry.
    Chris Plumb recently posted…Blogging Corrupts How People Perceive YouMy Profile

    • Yep, that motto sounds spot on. And I agree with the assessment of poetic language with those authors. I’m a lover of more subtle beauty, too, which was why I was so surprised to have such a good time.

  3. I really enjoyed your POV, as it differs so much from my own memories of the strip.

    I grew up not too far from Vegas. I spent many weekends there as a kid, running through Circus Circus and Excalibur, wishing I was old enough to just *walk* on the casino floor. I thought the main drag lit up at night was magical.
    Mollie Claire recently posted…Wait for meMy Profile

    • I’m always interested in how people perceive Vegas. When I first went there at seventeen, it seemed so grown-up, and all I wanted was to be able to walk the casino. I had some fun times there in my early twenties, but after I quit drinking it lost appeal for me. I had to relearn to enjoy it.

  4. I agree with everything you said about Vegas. We don’t gamble either or smoke. But we like going occasionally, staying at Bellagio and hitting up the really great restaurants and maybe a Cirque du Soleil show. But you can’t entirely avoid all of the seedy stuff. The Strip is just weird with the fake hotels and seedy business cards and such.
    Stacie recently posted…Best Laid PlansMy Profile

    • Oh, Bellagio. The gym at the Cosmopolitan overlooked the fountain – what an incredible view! And I wished we could’ve seen Cirque du Soleil. Maybe next time, when the budget is a wee bit looser.

  5. Awesome writing and that hot tub… OMG that looks nice! This is better than any travel brochure I’ve ever seen. I am suddenly craving a trip to Vegas in the worst way:) I, too, have deficient math skills and I am not much of a party-er but I LOVE the people watching in Vegas, as well as the shows and the food.
    Pam recently posted…I am Belly #94!My Profile

  6. So funny, Natalie, cuz my hubs went to Vegas over spring break (work trip) and he desperately wanted me to come along. My response was your exact reasoning. I have no desire to go. And I didn’t. Your photos (and others I’ve seen) are really opulent and pretty, and I’m sure I would’ve found fun things to do, like sit by the pool, or get a pedicure… but I don’t regret passing up the invite!
    Beth Teliho recently posted…Nudie Resorts And The Ass DanceMy Profile

  7. I enjoy Vegas- in small doses. The people watching is a kaleidoscope of humanity and there is a certain kind of ‘poetry’ in the tension between the overt dazzle and the seedy underbelly. Well said Nat- well said.
    A Pleasant House recently posted…Size MattersMy Profile

  8. I tend to find that people who dislike Vegas for whatever reason are usually those who don’t step off the Strip for very long or at all. There is so much more to this city than gambling, alcohol and hookers. We have great restaurants, incredible scenery in some areas, the Neon Museum, the Mob Museum, the Smith Center and so much more.

    I strongly encourage anyone who doesn’t like Vegas to get off the Strip (and away from parts of Downtown) and go exploring. As someone who has lived here almost 8 years (and admittedly doesn’t always like this city) I can tell you there are some awesome things to see and do around here.
    Kim recently posted…Living with Depression & How I’m Working on HealingMy Profile

    • Yeah, we only went off the strip for dinner one night. I am always curious to know what people who live there think about it. Next time I go I’ll hit you up, and you can show me the sights. 🙂

  9. I’ve been once, and I LOVED it. We went to Red Rock Canyon, the Hoover dam, and explored various casinos and restaurants — nickel slots, OH YEAH!

    I will say, we only went to casinos in the AM to avoid the smoke, and we were on a budget, so we only peeked in at some of the more fancy places through fences. We did see a show at Bally’s that was a sort of poetry. I still imitate the performers when my husband is mad at me. It always makes him laugh.

    I don’t feel a need to go back, but I have great memories of the trip.
    Kristin recently posted…Raising Voices: Lost Childhood EditionMy Profile

    • NICKEL SLOTS. That’s what it’s about. I only lost $13. I know, I spend big. And it sounds like you did fun things while there. It’s still not my first choice for a visit, but I’ll be a little more optimistic when I get the chance to go there in the future.

  10. I haven’t been to Vegas in a very, very long time, but it was quite the experience. What a place. My sister, on the other hand…that’s her place. We’re talking renewing wedding vows in a Vegas wedding chapel officiated by an Elvis impersonator while we watched it streaming online. Ya gotta love it!
    Linda Roy recently posted…Filming a Rockumentary: Grumpy Old PunksMy Profile

  11. I’m so glad you finally found the poetry to Vegas. It’s where I was born and where I’m from. I spent many years trying to get away from it yet ever since I left, I long for it. I didn’t see some of it’s beauty until the first time I returned after being gone a few years. There’s a lot to be said about Sin City and not all of it has to be bad. 🙂
    Deanna recently posted…You Deserve To Be LovedMy Profile

    • I’m glad, too! Now I can’t wait to go back. 🙂 And I didn’t know that about you! Hometowns can be like that, I know. I’ve spent my whole life trying to get out of mine, even though I know it’s a pretty amazing place.

  12. great post! i happen to love Vegas. i did not enjoy it the 1st two times i went since i went with company. so my third time i went alone and it was pure zen. i stayed at Vdarra, a non-gaming, smoke free, pet-friendly hotel. i stayed on a high floor, corner suite with a view of the Bellagio fountains. i worked out nearly everyday in their opulent gym and treated myself to a massage, facial and make-over. i am going back again this summer and all i can think about is my first stop: Cappriotti’s Sandwich Shop. i’m from Philly so i know cheesesteaks. this place has Philly beat. Capriottis is in the mall and it is a gynormous mall complete with a Whole Foods and movie theatre. i bought my make-up from Sephora there, expensive, but worth it. Vegas is what you make it. for me it was relaxation and rejuvenation. i went to multiple shows like CarrotTop, Thunder Down Under, and Cirque du Soleil. i didn’t have time for any field trips like Grand Canyon or Hoover Dam or Death Valley, but i hope to do one or two on next visit. if you don’t believe Vegas can be zenful, take a look at this awesome blog: http://www.vegassolo.com/

  13. oh my goodness, I think you’ve done the impossible- you may have actually, sort of, made me want to maybe go to Las Vegas (again). The last time I was there (my only time as an of-age adult) I blew $100 on blackjack in under 10 minutes and spent the next two days sulking because we were poor, and I should have saved that money for…really, anything else… and because people kept handing my husband porn flyers everywhere we went, and there aren’t any clocks in the casinos, and the horrible air quality, and we were staying in an awful place off the strip because we got to stay for free if we listened to a 2 hour timeshare pitch, and because I hate the desert, and nightclubs, Vegas has always represented my worst nightmare. But this, well this makes me want to go back!
    Hailey recently posted…Hey Portland, you’re pretty much perfect.My Profile

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