Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Decade Too Late

The Las Vegas Birthday Experience

I see Las Vegas as an Exploratorium on the human condition. Debauchery, hedonism, and indulgence are everywhere. It’s all here – the fake, plastic things they have often cautioned us won’t give us happiness – money, sex, drugs, and alcohol. On steroids. Even the architecture is fake it’s hard not to see it as

a satiric representation of what the city offers. Tour de Eiffel, Arc de Triomphe, Chrysler Building and Empire State

are here. It’s tacky and funny, one can’t help but love it.

Everyone is a tourist out for a good time. You look in people’s eyes and you see that fire burning in their eyes seeking that opportunity to abandon their inhibitions. I find it very interesting that it’s the favorite destination of people being initiated into adulthood by drowning in inebriation and belligerence. Most likely, that same person and his/her friends will be back in a few years for that one last crazy high before they subject themselves to the shackles of married suburban life.

It doesn’t make any sense to me. No matter. If you just allow it to pass you and not penetrate you, you’ll survive and actually have a good time, come home with your sanity, memory, checking account, integrity, and human dignity still intact.

Otherwise, Vegas will eat you alive. The fainthearted and weak-willed are strongly cautioned. Vegas will gently nudge you to go through your motions of one-night stands, strip clubs, gambling, shopping, and non-stop drinking. After using you up, it will send you home with a compounded hangover and maxed out credit (I don’t think anybody leaves this city richer, even if you do manage to win at the tables). And you’ll be back at your job the next day, staring at your computer screen and scratching your head wondering why, despite all that “fun” documented in your digital camera, you still feel hollow inside.

But if you see things just for what they are, I think it is a wonderful place to learn who you are. Some psychologists would argue that when you react strongly and negatively to something that you see in someone, you are actually reacting to that piece of yourself you have not accepted yet so you project it on to the other person. You are basically reacting to you. You don’t want to take responsibility for that awful, negative characteristic you still possess, so you want somebody else to carry it for you. So is it true then that if you don’t react to it, then you no longer identify with that part of you who’s caught in that spiderweb?

If you’re playful with it a little bit, charm it, smile with your eyes with it, flirt with it, dance with it, Vegas will be extremely easy on you. Vegas will serve you complimentary wine on the plane. Vegas will upgrade you to a one bedroom suite. Vegas will buy you drink after drink. Vegas will get you in parties without having to pay cover or stand in ridiculous lines.

I’m glad I waited a decade before I jumped in the Vegas bandwagon. I came home hangover-free, debt-free, sober, and feeling good knowing that I’m not that impressionable anymore. It’s a comfortable feeling to know that my identity is not built around a lot of things that would and could entrap. I don’t know if I could have said that at twenty-one.

Best of all, I got a real, melty, warm, cozy Danish "teddyhug" - in Vegas, of all places, where nothing is supposedly real.

Oh, life’s such a contradiction sometimes!!!

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