October 2, 2010

What happens in Vegas… may be posted on my blog

Wow. How to even begin to describe my trip. Especially given the oh-so-popular maxim of “whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” But let’s see what I can do to tell some Absolut(ly) Fit adventures while keeping intact the anonymity of all those involved šŸ™‚

Wednesday night, I got in fairly late thanks to my changed flight. I was reading “The Recessionistas” on the flight (well, alternating that with falling asleep, since it was like 1am EST and I had been up since 6am), and it was a fabulous book. While I think it’s supposed to fit in the chick lit category, I found it to be an extremely intellectual version of chick lit – it profiled several women in NYC who were affected by the economic meltdown of 2008 (a CEO, an admin, and the trophy wife of an MD) and how their lives changed because of it, detailing the events in real time so the reader got a really clear picture of exactly what financial situations caused the crisis. It was fascinating, and with the combo of that and my exhaustion, all I wanted to do was spend 30 minutes in bed finishing it up before going to sleep. Knowing that Thursday night would be a crazy party night, I wanted to get in a good workout to at least attempt to burn off the alcohol calories. So I bailed on clubbing – c’est la vie.

In the morning, I got up early enough for a good workout at the gorgeous gym. While it required a $20/day fee for hotel guests (non-guests were $30!), it was almost worth it – sparkling clean equipment, towels and waterbottles preset on each machine so you didn’t even need to deign to get your own at the entrance, and fancy dispensers with your choice of fruit-scented water (cucumber, lemon, lime, watermelon, and honeydew melon) in case the bottled wasn’t good enough for you. After a solid 90 minutes of sweaty cardio, I headed back up to my room for a quick shower and change before going into the day’s meetings.

After those were done, we hit the pool to catch some afternoon rays. We had a cabana to ourselves with bottle service, and it made it way too easy to indulge on calorie-heavy frozen cocktails when a) I didn’t have to pay for them and b) we had a waitress shuttling them back and forth from the bar so I didn’t even have to lift a finger to get another. Oops! As a result of all those drinks, I opted to hit the gym for another round of cardio in the afternoon, followed by a power nap. On to the evening entertainment!

5pm brought a lesson from one of my more Vegas-savvy coworkers in how to play craps. I had been to Vegas twice before and played craps with then-Boyfriend, but he used to basically do all the thinking and just tell me what to bet and where to place it. I was a bit apprehensive about playing as my own thinking self, but it all came back to me and I was pretty pleased with the result – I only lost $20 in about an hour of play. Considering I was playing on a table with a $10 minimum (whereas I had usually tried to minimize my losses by playing on a low limit $5 table in the past), I was thrilled. As a bonus, I had done extremely well when it was my turn as the roller, netting one guy at the table about $250. Now that’s how you make friends in Vegas!

Next up: the traditional “girls’ night” party pregame before we met up with the rest of the team for dinner. I got dressed and did my hair in my room, but saved the makeup for the girls’ party, where we all crowded into the big bathroom to gossip, share makeup tips, and drink champagne (yes, that is so cliche). I had a blast, especially getting to know some of the women I hadn’t worked closely with before, and that part of the evening ended much too quickly.

But now we were on to dinner – we had a private room at N9ne steakhouse, and a delicious menu up for the ordering. I opted for the lamb, which turned out to be two massive chops that basically each looked like t-bone steaks. Despite the opulence of that entree, I still couldn’t resist the delicious sides (parmesan mashed potatoes, truffled macaroni and cheese, and creamed spinach). Of course, all of this was accompanied by many healthy pours of deliciously oaky red wine, which I happily drank.

After the pool, the gambling, and the dinner, I was pretty well set with entertainment – but the night had just begun. From there, we hit the Bank nightclub at the Bellagio, where we had a few tables in the VIP section. I had never been to a club in Vegas before, let alone such an upscale one and in the VIP section. Even the entrance was cool – we walked past the red velvet ropes and took escalators up to the club level, where we were escorted past the “riff raff” (aka model-like clubbers who were gorgeous but apparently didn’t have names or connections) to our private area. I found this hilarious that I was part of the VIP crowd, because on most days I would never even be able to get myself into the non-VIP crowd, seeing as everyone in it would be rated an 11 or higher on a scale of 1-10! From there, we partied the night away. I felt like a total rockstar as I danced on tables in the VIP section, drink in hand and our fake-double-D waitress always at the ready with another concoction. While clubs normally aren’t my scene, an experience like this was truly extraordinary and definitely a great night.

I called it quits around 2:30am, pretending that I was going back to our hotel to hit the gambling floors and play more craps – but actually sneaking off to bed. Tricky, tricky! However, doing this meant that I was able to get up at 7am to work out and get a ton of work done – very productive of me. For lunch, I was able to grab a bite on the strip with my college ex-boyfriend, who has been living in Vegas with his current girlfriend for two years. Despite the gloomy start to the day, the sun came out in the afternoon, allowing me to hit the pool with one of my coworkers and work a bit more on my tan.

Most of my coworkers went home Friday afternoon, but I had decided to milk Vegas for all it was worth, booking a departure at 12:35am on Saturday morning. I figured that would give me an extra night of dinner, gambling, and maybe even a bit more drinking/dancing before passing out on the flight on the way home. I have always loved taking redeye flights for the simple reason that I sleep reasonably well on planes and there’s no point wasting my waking hours on a flight if I can just sleep on a flight. A brilliant plan, if I do say so myself.

That was, until I heard from the partner on my new project. I had worked with this partner in the past, so he knew me decently well, but he was not on the account whose business had brought me to Vegas, so I was quite surprised when I got a voicemail saying that he was in Vegas too and asking if I’d be up for a drink. As it turns out, he and his college buddies meet up once a year for a big throwdown in Vegas, and this weekend was it. Surprise! I explained that I had a late night flight, but agreed to meet up for dinner/drinks before I left for the airport.

At first, I had to work to prove myself at the dinner table. Though I had received word the day before that I had gotten a promotion to associate (yay!!! HUGE news for me!!!), the promotion announcements weren’t yet public. Being introduced as an analyst didn’t help my case for trying to seem mature and cool in this group of 30-40something high rollers, so I just did my best to prove it in other ways. After dinner, the group headed for a private table at the XS Nightclub at the Wynn, and I decided to stick around for another hour or so before leaving to catch my flight.

Now, if I thought the Bank at the Bellagio was upscale, it was nothing compared to XS at the Wynn! The typical nightclub atmosphere opened up to a gorgeous outdoor pool area, with a mini floating casino in the middle. Our “table” turned out to be a chic circular bed with a solid pedestal for drinks in the middle, and again, we were provided with our own cocktail waitress who was at our beck and call. And what did we want? Tequila shots!

After round one, we poured another but stopped before taking it, as our waitress needed to head back inside to get more limes. Clearly, she had underestimated our penchant for tequila shots! While she was gone, one of the guys from the group who had wandered away to the bathroom came back and asked why we weren’t starting the next round. Someone else replied that we were out of limes and were waiting on that, and I instantly earned myself some street cred by suggesting that we do a round now and another round when she returned with the limes. Score one for me!

After the next round, we decided to check out the gaming tables on the island in the middle of the pool. As we started walking over, my phone alarm started going off. It was 11pm, and that alarm was my reminder that I ought to leave by 11:15pm to catch my 12:35am flight (the airport is only about 15 mins from the Strip). While I noted the time, I was now amped for a bit more craps play, so I made the executive decision to play for a few more minutes before heading out.

When we reached the tables, I quickly noted that the craps table only had a $10 minimum – much less than I was expecting given the high roller atmosphere I was in. The guys decided they didn’t feel like playing right then, but when I announced my intention to play craps regardless of whether anyone else would join me, I again earned some respect, and one of the guys changed their mind and decided to play with me. I changed out $60 for chips, since I didn’t want to lose a lot of money and I was planning to head out in a few. Meanwhile, my boss’ friend threw down his player’s card and asked for $6,000 in chips. DAMN! Guess I need to stick around the job and move up to that level in the firm!

I was playing pretty well, with the dealer not needing to help me at all to figure out what I was doing. However, what I was unclear on was whether you could take your money back once you had already put it down. This was important after a few minutes because while I needed to leave to catch my flight, the roller had hit a lucky streak and the game showed no signs of ending. Could I take my chips back in order to leave? I didn’t know, and didn’t want to commit the faux pas of trying to take them back only to find out that you couldn’t do so. If anyone here is a master gambler, please let me know!

As time ticked away, I kept checking my watch, dismayed to see that it was now 11:20pm. 75 minutes till flight time! However, in craps, when the game starts taking a long time, it’s good – it means you’re winning. In short order, I had won about $80. “Wait a minute,” I thought. Changing to a later flight on my way to Vegas only cost $50 on the way out there. If I used my winnings to pay for a flight the next day, I’d still be ahead!

I pulled out my cell phone to try to get AA on the phone (the airline, not the organization, though at this point, either would have been appropriate). Unfortunately, in doing so, I inadvertently broke one of the cardinal rules of Vegas: no phones allowed at the tables. So much for looking cool and sophisticated! As I wondered whether I should leave the table to make the call or just wait till later, a 7 was finally rolled, ending the game. Without waiting for another streak to start, I headed out, informing my group that I was off to change my reservation and stick around for another night. They cheered!

I grabbed my purse and tried to find a place from which to call the airline, but everywhere that was quiet had no service, and everywhere that had service was loud (e.g. the middle of the club). Realizing that it was now 11:35am and my flight was in an hour, I started heading for the cashier to cash out my chips (just in case) while I kept trying to get reservations on the phone. Finally, I got through, but because the next flight was more than 12 hours from my original, it was going to be $150. Too rich for my blood! I thanked the agent and said I’d try to make my original flight.

But now, the race was on: it was 11:40am and I had 25 minutes to get to the airport and to my gate. It was going to be a close one! I cashed out my chips, got my bags from the valet, and quickly hailed a cab, who assured me that the airport would be less than 10 minutes at this hour. Sweet. We made conversation along the way, and as on the taxi ride from my apartment to JFK, he asked if had a boyfriend and then started questioning me as to why I didn’t, telling me that I was pretty and smart and nice and blah blah blah. Why do cabbies always tell me this? I know it’s supposed to be comforting to have people reassure you, but… it just makes me unhappy. I have all this going for me and I’m still single? Gosh, I suck! šŸ˜›

Luckily, tonight I truly fit the Carrie Bradshaw maxim of “single and FABULOUS!” I was still decked out in my low-cut club dress as I dashed through the airport, using my airline credentials to get through security quickly. Despite my not-quite-appropriate-for-a-red-eye-flight attire, I made it to the gate only a few minutes after boarding had begun – hallelujah! While walking down the jetway, I dropped a quick text to my boss explaining that I hadn’t been able to change the flight and had dashed off to the airport and made my original flight. (Later, on my layover in Dallas, I got his 5am text wishing me a safe trip – it sounded like things were still going strong.)

In the meantime, I tossed my overhead in the bin, conscious of the stares of other passengers at my unorthodox heels, makeup, low neckline, and likely smell of tequila. Fortunately, I had prepped my carry on bag in advance! I hit the lav to take off the makeup, take out my contacts, and throw on some sweats – thank goodness I sleep well on planes. It was time for beddybye – what a trip!

So there you have it. The slightly-edited-and-majorly-cut-down-so-my-coworkers-wouldn’t-kill-me-if-they-read-it (and as you can see, I blurred out their faces in the one photo I’m posting), but still-entertaining-and-a-general-gist-of-what-happened version of the Vegas trip. Quite a bit more exciting than either of the times I stopped in Vegas after marathons, that’s for sure!

As for any more details, my lips are sealed šŸ™‚


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