Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Avoiding Death in Las Vegas.

Well, somehow I managed to come back from Las Vegas with both legs intact, without hitting my KeyBank overdraft account, and with a wonderful sense of fulfillment gained from transcending an unavoidable age milestone without having a psychotic episode or a dream about futilely outrunning the icy cold hand of Death. Actually, I did have a dream where I was playing blackjack at the same table as Optimus Prime of Transformers fame, but I have yet to decipher the meaning.

So, I am back in Ohio, after Frontier Airlines decided that, even though our flight was delayed by a few hours, and we didn't even land until after 2 am in Indianapolis, I didn't really want my luggage to end up at the same place as me. I know that, deep down, Frontier Airlines is just trying to teach me a lesson about casting off the heavy shackles of the need for material possessions, and why I don't need hair gel and shaving utensils to appreciate my own existence, and for that reason, I'm not all that angry. I do think that it's fitting that Frontier's mascots are all animals living in environments untouched by civilization, and they're directly responsible for my looking more like a caveman at work today. There will be more news about my luggage and its adventure across the country in the screenplay I'm pitching to New Line--Forsaken: The Story of My Dirty Laundry and the Long, Largely Uneventful Journey Home.

Vegas was incredible, and I had a great time with my girlfriend and the surprise guest appearances of a lot of my close friends who flew in from different parts of the country. I walked around the Strip and downtown, or Old Vegas. I won money in Roulette and lost it at Blackjack. I made the discovery that on the Strip, each casino is, basically, a medium-sized town. Moreover, I got to see an atmosphere that differs from any previous experience I have had, and I got to see it with friends. This wasn't without at least a couple of tribulations.

Casinos are gigantic. If you're standing outside of Caesars Palace, and decide that you want to hit up the Venetian, you'll undoubtedly say to yourself, "All right, let's head across the street and check it out." Three hours later, after you've walked eleven miles, you've run out of water and supplies, and your Sherpa has died, you truly appreciate the scale these buildings are on and curse your lack of depth perception. Exaggerations aside, the buildings are deceiving, and walking around inside and between casinos can be pretty draining, which is the condition I was in when we decided to walk into the Mirage.

The Mirage was kind enough to put moving walkways at the front entrance of their building, and we were on one when I accidentally made eye contact with some dude staggering down the parallel walkway leading out of the building. He was all tagged out in Giants gear and carrying a bottle of Bud Light, which would normally set off a mental alarm, but since Nevada has no open container laws, he wasn't in violation of any state regulations. He started talking to me at about ten yards out, and as he passed me, the conversation went something like this. Remember that this is a vague translation:

Shitfaced Stranger: "Heeeeeeeey!"

Me: "Hey."

Shitfaced Stranger: "Well, you could give me a job! Ha haaaaaa..."

Me: "Uh...yeah...what?"

Shitfaced Stranger: "Yeaheah. That...that way I could make some money, and I'll get ta kill ya!" (maniacal laughter)

Me: "Ha ha...wait, what?"

(He and I are passing each other at this point. He keeps laughing wide-eyed, and I pretty much just stare at him in confusion. I turn back towards the entrance to the Mirage.)

Me: "Dude, am I hallucinating, or did that guy just threaten to kill me?"

Eric: "Uh...actually, yeah. I think so. I'm pretty sure he did."

Now, this was a pretty strange occurrence for me. I don't think that a stranger has ever let me know that he would like to murder me, let alone see the obvious black humor in killing a stranger in broad daylight for no apparent reason. I thought about what he said as we were looking for the lion exhibit inside the Mirage, and I came up with a few things he might have meant. I've also taken the liberty of listing what I think the odds are that I'm correct in said assumption.

Scenario 1: He is out of work and earnestly asking me for a job.
Vegas Odds: 20 to 1.

I don't dress like much of a high-roller even when I am wearing a suit, and not only was I not wearing one at that point, I hadn't even showered yet, so I can't say that approaching me for employment makes much sense. Also, if he was, in fact, out of work, he was drunk enough to break two of the major rules of unemployment: A) Stay the fuck away from casinos, and B) Try to refrain from telling a potential interviewer that you'd like to kill them after they hire you. Regardless, if that's what he said, this is the most literal interpretation of it.

Scenario 2: He is trying to solicit sex from me.
Vegas Odds: 15 to 1.

Las Vegas is pretty unique for a lot of reasons, and the abundance of people openly and legally offering sex for money is no exception. He did use the word "job" in what he probably thought was a full sentence. And while it's true that I regularly refer to myself as being "ruggedly handsome," and I did make eye contact with him, albeit accidentally, he may have seen some sort of erotic connection between the two of us, or at least between himself, me, and my girlfriend, that I missed. I'd still say the odds are against it. Understand that in Vegas, the dudes that are openly offering their services to other dudes are typically wearing hot pants and tiny bullfighter shirts, and I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans. Plus, there's still the whole death threat thing, and even if this guy was drunk enough to chance getting his ass kicked by soliciting gay sex from guys that aren't gay prostitutes, it takes a lot of liquor and logic avoidance to forget to not tell them that you're going to kill them instead of paying them.

Scenario 3: He's blacked out, and has no control over his inner monologue.
Vegas Odds: 2 to 1.

This, even if it's not the most exciting reason, is easily the most probable. People say a lot of crazy things when they're blacked out. My freshman year of college, I was told that I went off on a tangent about fighting a dragon that kind of looked like Steve Buscemi, and I was witness to a host of lunatic soliloquies, ranging from accusations of beating up someone's grandmother to claims that a significant other had slept with someone they had never met. And that's just things I've seen associated with too much alcohol. For all I know, this guy was on his way out of the Mirage to watch tapes of Giants games while maintaining the chemical balances in his basement meth lab. The possibilities are endless.

So, I'd have to say that overall, it was a great trip and an even better 30th birthday experience. Having said that, it has been tempting to answer every inquiry of how my trip was with "Oh, pretty good. Some guy threatened to kill me outside of the Mirage," every time. But hey, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. That is, except for scars resulting from stab wounds with a crude shiv formed out of a broken Bud Light bottle, courtesy of a blasted Giants SuperFan.


Duderonymous Scaggs said...

You mean Gary didn't go through with the hit? I'm going to have a word with him!

Jamie Rockwell said...

While you're talking to him, make sure you tell him to lay off the sauce.