“Ladies and gentlemen, there is no more alcohol,” the flight attendant announced. We were only half way to Sin City, but full of booze and tiny pretzels. It had been a long, cold winter-spring-winter, and as the plane touched down I could literally hear a teary eyed Kelly Clarkson sing, “some people wait a lifetime for a moment like thissss.”
When my best friend suggested Vegas for her bachelorette, there were no questions – other than, “how can I afford this?” – and I promptly emailed my credit card and passport number to a lady from Flight Centre Bowmanville. The bride-to-be did all the planning, I just sat there refreshing my credit card statement, justifying every expense leading up to the trip with a healthy I-worked-two-Saturdays-in-a-row-therefore-I-deserve-this mentality.
I don’t deserve anything. What I needed was a break and two miniature bottles of prosecco, thank you.
By the time we checked into our hotel, I was both drunk and hungover from the sheer enormity that is the Las Vegas strip. Everything in Vegas is big. The casinos, the drinks, the boobs. It’s outrageous. Our hotel, aptly named Paris, has an Eiffel Tower shooting out of it like a giant beanstalk. The entire lobby looks like the set of a Parisian musical – if the streets of Paris were lined with screaming slot machines and cankles. And people smoke INDOORS.
I always imagined Vegas to be this glamorous, red carpet resort town, there were just way more cargo shorts than I was expecting. So, naturally, we went to this five star restaurant called Walgreens for lunch. I don’t mean to brag, but the tuna salad sandwich I shoved in my face at the front of the store, while holding a 60 of vodka was pretty fantastic.
After dodging several club promoters and one snake, we chased our sandwiches with slushies bigger than my torso. “Do you want another shot?” the slushie girl asked. “It’s six dollars for one and seven for two.” I don’t get Vegas math, or math in general, but two seemed like the most logical choice.
Once back in the room, we gracefully squeezed our slushies into water bottles, our swollen feet into heels, and stumbled to the pool. Wearing heels with a bikini is like putting Lebron James in a bouncy castle…what’s the fricken point? Yet, there I was, looking super practical and buoyant in my platforms and permanent wedgie.
I didn’t care, I had forgotten what it was like to feel heat on my body and heels made me six inches closer to the sun. I’ve lived in Canada my whole life and every year I’m surprised by how cold it gets. There is a numbness that takes over while you’re waiting for the bus in – 40 °C and if you’re not careful that feeling can stay with you long after the snow has melted.
Now, the only numbness I felt was brain freeze from chugging my slushie. We had only been in Vegas for a couple hours and I was already missing this weekend. Maybe it was the heat, because the mirage I was seeing of my best friends dancing in a pool, under the Eiffel Tower, in the middle of the desert seemed too good to be true.
“How many girls?” asked a suited driver while we waited for cabs. “Eleven,” we replied in almost perfect Stepford wife unison. Dresses and complicated rompers replaced bikinis and neon lights shone brighter than the, now sleeping, sun. “Do you want a limo for 65 dollars?” he asked. “Each?” I responded. He shook his head at my naivety, “for the whole thing and I’ll take you around the strip too.”
All eleven of us piled into the limo, a mix of old friends, new friends, and newly reacquainted friends screaming over each other as we idled in traffic. The last time most of us were in a limo together two puked out the window, one bumped her head and someone who shall remain nameless peed in it. Five years later, everything and nothing had changed.
Our ride through the strip felt like a tour around the world. There was a pyramid with a giant sphinx – Egypt, a plastic colosseum – ancient Rome, and a white man riding a Harley with a revolver strapped to his belt – This is America. Fun fact about Nevada gun laws: there are none. No permits for rifles or shotguns, no mandatory background checks, no licence requirements, no limit on the number of bullets a gun can hold, no limit on how many guns a person can own. It’s legal to carry a gun into a bar, a restaurant, and a casino.
Side note, Las Vegas is home to the deadliest mass shooting in all of America’s gross history of mass shootings.
I fucking hate guns.
Unless, we are referring to the guns on half naked Australian men, those can stay, preferably right in front of me so I can touch them.
Our chariot stopped outside a glowing white castle and off we bolted through the front gates, past the fiery casino, and up the moving stairs where we found a dark room packed with squealing women and babyoiled man abs. A place where dreams come true and touching is heavily encouraged. “Ladies night outback,” the sign read. We had made it to Thunder Down Under and we would never be the same.
Normally, the idea of walking in on people having sex is terrifying, but this dry humping amongst strangers was hot. I unapologetically screamed things in front of my friends I haven’t so much as whispered in the bedroom – things I can’t take back. And forget about a text back, from that night on I expect every future sexual encounter to involve a dance routine and a fog machine (let’s be real, the only thing I slept with that night was a pair of earplugs and a lavender scented eye mask…but, still).
The next morning began like any other, with breakfast and vodka. The guest list for Wet Republic’s pool party opened at 10:00 a.m. and you bet we were in line with our eye lashes and heels on no later than 10:30. We weren’t the only ones; a plethora of grown-ups in various matching t-shirts covered the entire MGM Grand perimeter like one giant, sweaty blanket.
I had a hard time believing everyone would fit in one pool until we cleared several security checks and I realized this was no backyard watering hole. This was 54,000 square feet of fun and potential law suits. A football field of debauchery and tiny bottle service girls with breasts a shape not found in nature…there was no nature to be found, really, just saltwater full of pee and the occasional douchelord.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” Jenna, one of my best friends, announced as we sipped our first 60 dollar triple of the day. We all nodded in agreement. We all know this didn’t happen.
By 11:00 a.m., none of us could safely operate a motor vehicle. By noon, our own motor control was questionable. We spent the next six hours doing laps around Wet Republic either falling or trying not to fall (along with other things I can’t mention here should I ever meet the Queen). I think a guy named Calvin Harris played a few songs on his MacBook, but I’m not entirely sure. My most distinct memory from that afternoon is sprinting like a baby goat in heels over to Jenna, screaming “SOMEBODY HELP HER!” after she took a little tumble down the stairs – she was fine. I was not.
Shortly after our minor incident, Jenna and I got separated from the group and ended up at In and Out Burger, on the other side of the strip, in an upscale outdoor shopping mall. Oddly enough, we were the only ones in bikinis. We inhaled our burgers and left immediately. “Take us to Parishhh!” I slurred to a cab driver waiting under a giant ferris wheel. And there we went, back to our hotel room, which we didn’t leave for 15 hours.
I woke up wondering how I was going to make it through another day here. But there was no time to dwell, a second pool party was waiting for us. We slathered on sunscreen, threw back some shots, and left our heels at the hotel. Today’s Goal: Don’t croak at Encore Beach Club.
After melting in line for two hours, that goal was becoming more unattainable than a Celine Dion show (I couldn’t see her, still not over it). The sun was starting to get to us. A combination of sweat, alcohol, and shame leaking through every pore. Why are we hereee? I wondered, until (almost) all of us got in and I bought my first 75 dollar triple of the day.
“Are your friends as hot as you?” I overheard a tall, shirtless man ask my friends. “Yes,” they answered, and the next thing I knew we were in a cabana surrounded by Swiss men and free waffle fries. There was also copious amounts of free alcohol which almost made me feel better about just dishing out 75 dollars (still not over it).
I should mention that the tall, shirtless man who approached my friends had a lip ring and an “I ♥ house music” tattoo on his forearm (the “house” was a tiny square with a triangle on top). I think his name was Drew? Anyways, these guys from Switzerland were Drew’s “clients” and they were paying him so he could help them spend their money. I didn’t touch my wallet for the rest of the trip. I didn’t even pretend to search for it in my purse.
At one point I was dancing in the cabana with a glass of Moët in my right hand and several waffle fries in the other, when one of the guys noticed a black mark on my bight yellow bikini bottoms. He then proceeded to pour an entire bottle of Fiji water on my ass to get the stain out. FIJI WATER. I felt like a Kardashian.
“What are you celebrating?” I asked the one bearded Schweizer. He looked around the cabana, reached out his arms, and smiled, “Life.” He said. Full stop. And I didn’t dare question it.
After the pool party we took a party bus back to the Cosmopolitan’s penthouse suite and continued to drink their alcohol and eat their room service. Champagne in the afternoon; Belvedere bottle service at night. When it was all over, they thanked us for hanging out with them. To this day, there are remnants of waffle fries somehow stuck inside my phone case – a token of a past, extravagant life, and a reminder that it was never mine.
On the flight home I was flipping through an issue of ELLE Canada and read a quote that has stayed with me: “time is like friendship oxygen, and supply is short.” The article explained the importance of strong relationships and how these relationships dramatically decrease when one party gets married.
I kept thinking about my girls. The ones who have been with me for twenty years and the new ones I want for another twenty. The ones who rush to your side when you get into a fight with a door…twice. The ones who don’t judge you after you do things that are worthy of some judgement.
As we grow older, move to Australia, get married, it gets harder to be with each other. So, while our time in Vegas was short, it was special and worth celebrating. “Life,” the Swiss man was right, is worth celebrating. I didn’t gamble once, I didn’t need to, with friends like that I’ve already won.