What follows is Part III, the finale, of the original JOURNEYMEN series “VEGAS”. Being that I was almost totally drunk the whole time, please be advised that some events contained herein may have been altered and/or may never have even existed. That being said, most of this shit definitely happened, no matter what any of these guys will tell you. Don’t let them perp.
I woke up Saturday morning wondering if I’d been crushed by one of those Acme anvils from the cartoons. My limbs barely worked, my mind felt like mud, and my buddies were scattered around the hotel room like dead soldiers on a Civil War battlefield
The previous night had ended like a lot of nights end. A cab ride home, where you have what seems like a deep and intellectual conversation with the driver, even though in actuality he hated you.Then a drunken stumble through the casino, where you high-five old women and fist pump even though there’s no music playing. Then finally those 10 minutes in the hotel room where you struggle to undress and then collapse into bed like Frank the Tank into a pool.
So, obviously, waking up the next morning felt like being water-boarded by the KGB. Fortunately, our group was able to mobilize rather quickly toward the only possible antidote for my condition: the buffet.
Little did I know, that decision would set the tone for a 12-hour stretch that may have shaved 20 years off my life. Luckily, I documented every detail in my dream journal...
11:03am - We approach the restaurant entrance looking like the cast of Sandlot on the losing end of a bender. First in line, I do a Matrix double-take when the cashier tells me it’s “mandatory unlimited champagne brunch” day. I then point at Rosacea and say “In that case madame I’ll take two, and please charge them to donkey-lips back there.”
11:09am - We’re shown to our table, and compared to the Wynn buffet, this place is basically one giant asshole. I half expect the sloppy joe lady from Billy Madison to pop out and cackle at us.
11:10am - We attack the buffet like a swarm of bees. Squirrel goes with lo mein and spring rolls, Burk springs for cheese pizza and smiley-face chicken nuggets, and Green comes back with a heaping mound of crab legs. I close my eyes and say a prayer for our hotel room toilet.
11:20am - We’re most of the way through plate number one and still we’ve not seen anything resembling a waitress. This is a problem for two reasons. First, when you’re hungover you need water, and if you don’t get it you feel like your only option is to start committing genocide. Second, when you pay for an all-you-can-drink ANYTHING, you’re in essence flipping the restraint switch in your mind from “I’ll have a few” to “EVERYONE WATCH HOW REAL SHIT’S ABOUT TO GET.” For our future waitress’ sake, I’m hoping she arrives post haste. The fate of her kind depends on it.
11:25am - Vanessa the waitress arrives to a death glare from Buchanan, who’s got his head on the table and appears to be doing his famous “dead cicada” impression. Fortunately she buys herself a few more minutes of life by slapping down 11 cups of coffee, as well as massive Pepsi glasses of ice water. Also, she’s a large, sassy African-American woman, so we obviously are forced to do as we’re told.
11:32am - Our relationship with Vanessa improves when she returns with a bunch of clear plastic cups of champagne. One sip is all I need to know that it’s probably Costco brand, but I still knock it back in three gulps, because VEGAS. From across the table, Pat gives me a look that says “Let’s be blood brothers today” and does the same to his glass. Wiping the foam off my lips with my shirt sleeve, I raise my hand in the air and twirl my index finger at Vanessa, which I’m hoping is the universal symbol for KEEP ‘EM COMIN SWEETCHEEKS.
11:50am - Our meal has quickly morphed into Champagne Olympics 2013. Each of us have at least two full plastic glasses in front of us, and Pat and I have accelerated our regimen by dumping huge portions into our Pepsi water glasses for optimum efficiency. Jokingly, we ask Vanessa if she has any Crazy Straws or possibly even a vacuum hose. By this point she totally adores us so she just unleashes a booming laugh and says “YA’LL GONE STOP.”
11:15am - It’s not even noon, and we’re all starting to get crushed. Cedric has established a solid rapport with the elderly couple behind us, who apparently paid $28.50 for two coffees and a plate of melon. I mention to them that their love appears to be as beautiful and vibrant as it was 50 years ago. They ignore me and pretend to adjust their hearing aids.
12:28pm - Vanessa returns for the last time, and she’s carrying a tray the size of one of those snow saucers. Like a true American hero, she’s got it loaded up with about eight unopened bottles of Harrah’s finest. We proceed to give her a standing ovation, and then thrust our cups under her nose like a pack of hungry beggar boys. After corraling as many overflowing cups as possible, we head for the door. Vanessa gives us one of those big floppy-armed waves and reminds us to be careful because she “doesn't want to see us on the news later.”
12:39pm - By the time we get back to the room, my vision is starting to blur and I realize my flip-flops are soaked in champagne. It occurs to me that I must’ve played it fast and loose with my open containers on the walk back, but I’m not too concerned because show me someone who doesn’t love being soaked in champagne and I’ll show you a liar. Still, I go into the bathroom with every intention of washing off my sticky feet in the bathtub, but get sidetracked and end up sitting on the toilet and texting.
12:50pm - When I emerge, it’s like walking into a scene from The Boondock Saints. What’s left of the champagne (there’s still a shitload) is arranged on the bedside tables, and the boys are funneling it into water bottles and Pringles cans and anything else that has a sealable top. Apparently while I was picking dandelions in the bathroom it was decided that we would bring all the remaining booze on the motorcoach that was about to pick us up, and attempt to drink it all by the time we got to the next venue. This sounds like a stupendous idea, so I happily assist with combining the remaining Jim Beam with some leftover Pepsi and lemonade. After all, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen someone die of alcohol poisoning.
1:16pm - After a 20-minute ride on the party bus, we arrive. We’d spent most of the ride passing the various booze receptacles around in a circle, pressuring eachother to take massive gulps and calling people vaginas when they refused. Unfortunately, sweet Vanessa overdid it slightly, and we have a a few water bottles full of champagne/Gatorade punch leftover. Pat and Green are engineers, so they’re proud of their idea to stash the bottles in someone’s backpack. Because bouncers never check backpacks.
1:18pm - I’m the last one off the bus, and as I step out and look around, I realize our group is already going through the many phases of transformation caused by boundless amounts of champagne. Burk’s wobbling around as the bouncers pat down his pockets and make fun of his camping shirt. RobRobRob and Rosacea are giggling because they can see in the front door and there are a bunch of girls in bikinis. And Pat and Green are off to the side, preparing to chug the booze grenades they’d so cleverly planted at the very top of the bag. It is abundantly clear that things are about to get weird.
1: 26pm - We’d kept plans for this afternoon a secret from the Squirrel. Partly because it’s fun to keep secrets from bachelors, and partly because we wanted to see his face when he walked in. See, As a part of our “deal” with last night’s establishment, we were granted access to their pool club. At first we were unsure, seeing as none of us really are fans of massive, luxurious, private pools where beautiful women are paid to walk around in bathing suits. However, we reluctantly agreed, contingent on their promise that there’d be plenty of space for us to play Marco Polo.
1:30pm - So, in case you’re unaware, pool clubs that are owned by *parcheesi* joints are basically like fairy wonderlands for people who’ve conquered puberty. As we’re ushered to our cabana, I look around and am legitimately amazed. Unlike most Vegas pools, there’s a noticeable absence of giant dudes that look like Jose Canseco. Instead, it’s like a Secret Garden, where aggression gets checked at the door and everyone clearly spent last night at a Holiday Inn Express. Employees and patrons alike are frolicking in wading pools, bartenders are flipping shit around like they’re on Cocktail, and the security staff isn’t treating us like residents of an internment camp. I make a mental note to Yelp the crap out of this place when I get home.
1:45pm - We make first contact with our waitress, and she is decidedly not disgusting. Her name is Julia, and it’s immediately evident that the next six hours are going to be her own personal Ironman competition, wherein the only event is swatting away the advances of nerdy dudes with half-chubs. It’s clear she’s up to the task though, because within minutes I see her smiling through a conversation with Burk about his collection of rare soccer scarves.
|Pat and RobRobRob. This was taken at like 2.|
1:49pm - After a few homoerotic minutes of dudes putting sunblock on other dudes, Cedric and I decide to lay siege to a nearby ping-pong table. However, we don’t even make it 20 steps before he gets uncomfortably close to me, points to a cabana, and whispers “Dude, don’t make a scene but that’s CHUMLEE.” I proceed to stare at him blankly, and then ask if he’s referring to a character from Game of Thrones. Looking positively disgusted, he goes on to explain that “Chumlee” is a cast member from the show Pawn Stars, and that he and his jackwagon friends are apparently partying in a cabana two feet away. As a person that would rather wax his balls than watch reality TV, I tell Cedric to please stop shitting his pants so I can dust him in table tennis.
2:07pm - Lasagna appears out of nowhere with two random girls, and they’re all super pumped about the ping-pong situation. Which is good, because Ced and I’s impressive array of backspins have scared off the girls we were playing with initially, leaving us alone on the same side of the table like the dumbass couple at the restaurant who sit on the same side of the booth. Over the next several minutes, we learn the following key pieces of intel about our super-inebriated new friends. First, the one is from France, which explains why her name is Leia but is pronounced “LKHGYEFFADTJJFDE.” Second, they both recently graduated from West Virginia University, and are in Vegas for a “girls weekend.” Which, from the look in Lasagna’s eyes, I can tell he assumes is French for “you’re about to get double-teamed, big boy.” Finally, the girls are able to confirm that the platoon of rednecks next door is, in fact, Chumlee and his brother-cousins. It’s his birthday, reportedly, and he’s quickly become famous amongst the cabana crowd for squirting girls in their hoo-ha’s with a water gun. Lasagna puts his giant arm around Leia and gently vows to “never squirt her with anything.”
2:20pm - Tired of listening to Cedric tell Leia about the Celtic origins of his middle name, I return to our cabana and discover a random waitress lying facedown on one of our couches. Mo is standing over her and it seems possible that he’s killed her. Upon further investigation, I’m assured by Mo that she’s just resting, and that he’s only standing near her because he’s “looking for his coconut milk.” I nod and back away slowly.
|Mo and the girl he killed.|
2:37pm - I walk back to the Chumlee Zone and find the two WVU girls running through what appears to be some type of complex calisthenic routine. Lasagna explains that the girls are convinced there’s going to be a bikini contest later, and they’re nervous about competing against the club employees, all of whom look like they invented Crossfit. Apparently, Cedric convinced the girls the only way to compete against professional nudists is to come up with a complicated floor routine. Lasagna offered to choreograph, which probably explains why the two girls are currently resting in full splits next to eachother on the ground, their arms intertwined in one of these, on the verge of pounding a couple of tequila shots. I figure I better retreat before the head injuries arrive, but first I scrawl out a text to Lasagna comprised solely of an emoticon high-fiving another emoticon.
3:37pm - In my blurry, wobbly state of existence, it occurs to me that I’m not wearing a tank top, and that this is a very serious problem. On an impulse, I grab the first club employee that passes through my line of vision. Thankfully it’s the little Quasimodo-looking dude that’s been bringing us waters and towels all afternoon, so we’re already on a SUP BRO headnod basis. I quickly outline my dilemma, stressing the fact that I barely even wear sleeves to the office, let alone to pool clubs. I’m pretty sure I mumbled the entire thing and all he heard was “tank-top”, “fucking-fuck”, and “THESE GUNS NEED A RACK STEVEN” , but he clearly understands the situation because five minutes later he shows up with two tank tops with the club logo on the front. One for me and one for Cedric, who’d apparently been blinding guests all day with his pasty back.
4:59pm - At this point the whole group has convened in the vicinity of our cabana. Mo’s on the cabana couch and his head is once again invisible amidst a cloud of cigar smoke. The French girl and her friend are passed out in eachother’s arms, and Green is engaged in a vigorous twerk-off with Unicorn Girl. Suddenly, Lasagna returns from the men’s room and announces that he accidentally dropped his Ray-Bans into the urinal. No one really notices, because Julia is talking about Instagram and showing everyone all of her Throwback Thursdays. The Squirrel evidently did though, because he disappears and returns a few minutes later wearing Lasagnas shades and a massive drunk smile. Being that his face is now covered in urine, we all take a few steps backward and Julia almost ralphs all over her pong table ass-picture.
5:13pm - Cedric meanders past Chumlee’s cabana and I see him do one of those abbreviated waves, where you start to raise your hand to greet someone but then realize they’re motioning to the person behind you, so you act like you’re scratching your head.
5:46pm - Things get especially weird when a half-empty bottle of Malibu appears out of nowhere. In no state to question things, we begin passing it around the table like a peace pipe. The last gulps are pounded down by Pat, who I’m convinced is now existing solely on vampire blood, based on how well he’s held up since breakfast. He proceeds to purse his lips into a confident smirk, give everyone at the table a thumbs up, and flex his traps.
|The Gang + Steven.|
6:03pm - In what can generously be described as a bold move, Rosecea and RobRobRob decide it’s a good time to unveil the delightful secret they’ve been hiding in their pants. That is, a couple of ridiculous-looking speedos. Rosecea’s has a tuxedo on it, and RobRobRob’s is just covered in flames. My first impulse is to duck, as I assume the whole pool is about to start bombing us with tomatoes. But then an amazing thing happens: the Unicorn starts laughing (Burk may have been tickling her), a few people at the neighboring cabana let out some catcalls, and Julia gives RobRobRob a playful embrace. Which is great, because I’ve always wondered what it’d look like if Angelina Jolie hugged Neville Longbottom.
6:33pm - Steven tells us the club will be closing in a half hour, and our crew goes through a flurry of emotions. Green looks at Steven like he just assaulted his grandmother, Buchanan and Cedric start draining random Dos Equis cans, and Pat continues to do the robot in the corner because he no longer has any idea what planet he’s on. Meanwhile, Lasagna makes a beeline for Juila. The two of them stand there for several minutes talking earnestly; and then the Big Shaqtus gives her a high-five and saunters back to the group like he’s just won a rodeo. “Dudes,” he proclaims, loud enough for the people at Stratosphere to hear, “we are definitely partying with that chick later.” He then shows us her number that she’d just typed into his phone, prompting us to exchange a round of handshakes and present him with a medal of bravery.
6:52pm - We exit the club in a single-file line, looking like a white trash traveling circus. Rosacea and RobRobRob are still in their speedos, I’ve got a massive cranberry juice stain down the front of my tank top, and Burk is dragging Pat on one of those corpse sleds. Squirrel pops into the men’s room on the way out to say goodbye to the attendant he spent all day stealing mints from/not tipping.
7:34pm - Miraculously, all eleven of us somehow make it back to the hotel. Mo takes the opportunity to slither back to his Presidential Suite, leaving the other ten of us to make the drunk trek back to our rats nest. We arrive, stumble through the door, and the next 30 minutes or so is a smelly trash can of ridiculousness. RobRobRob is dancing on one of the beds in his banana-hammock, Buchanan is trying to do CPR on the empty bottle of Jim Beam, and Cedric/Burk/Squirrel are locked in a three-way Greco-Roman wrestling match, resulting in the Squirrel toppling into some suitcases and Cedric getting his face mashed into the hotel phone.
8:17pm - Our hotel room rave party comes to a crashing halt as we realize no one knows who paid the bill at the pool club. Immediately, the conspiracy theories begin flying, but eventually we settle down and decide there are only three plausible explanations:
1) Julia comped the whole tab, on account of our collective handsomeness. This theory is submitted by a smiling Squirrel, and gains traction immediately with Rosacea/Pat/Lasagna.
2) We accidentally left without paying, which means we’ll all need to move to Tijuana for a few years. Green’s hands start twitching.
3) Mo decided to pick up the tab, and paid for the whole thing in precious stones. Cedric is dead set on this, and submits the club’s name (“Sapphire”) as exhibit A.
|He ate the phones?! HE ATE THE PHONES!|
For a solid 5-10 minutes, the room remains in a state of utter chaos, set to a soundtrack of EDC trance music that someone had put on earlier. And just as I think RobRobRob is about to be pulled apart by his limbs like some kind of 18th century sacrifice, the hotel phone rings. Someone turns off the music and there’s about two milliseconds of eerie silence before the phone rings again. We all look around cautiously, wondering who the hell could be on the other end. Is it the hotel lobby, asking why it sounds like we’re slaughtering a buffalo? Is it Julia, pissed that Lasagna gave her an STD just by texting her? Or SWEET BABY JESUS is it Vanessa, and her shift’s over, and she needs someone to help her shave her armpits?? The phone rings a third time. Mercifully, Squirrel picks it up, and offers the most cryptic “Hello???” anyone ever has. He listens a couple seconds, staring blankly ahead, and then sets the receiver back down.
“Yo guys. It’s Mo. He said stop being a bunch of dicks and come down for hamburgers.”
Immediately, we know It’s over. RobRobRob may or may not live forever in infamy for his grievous error, and he may or may not have Italian thighs that look like Chia pets on steroids. But he’s our brother all the same, and nothing will ever change that. Besides, Mo is by himself downstairs, and he told us to stop being dicks, so really there is no other option. Resigned, we regroup, exchange a few hugs, and silently file out of the room. The door closes behind us, leaving Pat (who blacked out immediately when we got back) lying on the bed like a pile of rocks.
* * *
The remaining 12 hours in Vegas went by like a snap of a finger. Almost immediately after arriving to the burger place our hangovers began to set in, and by the time the meal was over we were all struggling to sit up straight in our chairs. We left as group, promising to meet Mo at the Blackjack tables after a quick siesta. But in our hearts and minds, I think we all knew that to be a lie. 12 hours later we all awoke, and two hours after that we were at the airport. The sticky tang of champagne fresh in our throats, fresh feelings of guilt seeping from our pores.
It’s been nearly six weeks since we got back from Vegas, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t fully recovered. Sure, the hangover’s worn off. And I’ve finally regained my peripheral vision, which is a plus. But when you go to Vegas with 10 other dudes, it never fully leaves you. You still look at your credit card statement and weep. You still walk by the bathroom scale and try not to make eye contact. You still wake up at night screaming in Cantonese.
Thankfully, things could have been a lot worse. Ced and I could have stayed at the Pai Gow table for a few more hands and wound up in a North Korean dungeon. Burk could have ended up Western Unioning money to his friend at Sapphires. Green could have made good on his threats to sleep with an East German transvestite.
Somehow, we managed to avoid these and a hundred other possible horrors in the desert, while still managing to celebrate the final fleeting moments of Squirrel’s single existence. We did it with style. We did it with grace.
And we didn’t even end up on the news.
JOURNEYMEN Pit Boss and Coconut Milk King