Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Girl Named Kandy

I met her walking on the Las Vegas Strip. I know what you're thinking, but she wasn't that kind of girl. As I approached the cross-walk on Flamingo Avenue, on my way to the Mirage, she emerged from Bally's. I gave her a sideways look; she was cute, in that man-she-could-be-from-my-hometown kind of way. She wore a fleece vest over a long-sleeve tee, jeans and sensible flats. A cobalt scarf hung languidly over her left shoulder, and she was digging through a shoulder purse. I smiled slightly to myself and turned away my gaze so as not to be rude.

But no sooner had I done so than she stumbled directly into my path. I instinctively thrust out my arms and caught her before she hit the sidewalk.

"I'm so sorry," she said. She was genuinely embarrassed, not angry that some stranger had grabbed her out of the air. I realized I was still clutching her, and I released her awkwardly.

"Are you OK?" I managed.

"Aside from the embarrassment, you mean?"

"This is Vegas," I said. "No worries."

"Well," she continued, "if I hadn't just lost 300 at the blackjack table, I'd feel better." She smiled and stared at me. Funny how people in Vegas so easily tell you about their finances.

"I try to stay away from that game as much as possible, but it is difficult isn't it? Was on my way to the Mirage to play some poker," I said. "Maybe turn my luck around there."

"Really? I thought about playing some cards, but maybe I should just cut my losses and go to bed. I'm here for 3 more days. It's a tough call..."

"Come over to the Mirage with me," I said, emboldened. "I promise not to take that much from you. They call me Ground Possum, by the way."

She squinted an eye at me. "Kandy," she said, extending her hand.

"You're kidding," I said.

"Haha-- laugh it up. A gift from my parents. And anyway, how do I know you're not some creep who trolls the Strip for young lovelies to come falling into your arms?"

"Do you watch a lot of romantic comedies?" I asked.

"Shut up," she said, and we began to walk toward the Mirage.

The jewel of the Strip.

That night we played side-by-side for hours at a 2-4 limit poker table. We talked about where we were from and what we liked to do on weekends (when not in Vegas). Turns out a couple of friends were coming in the next night to meet up with her, but they weren't much on gambling, so she had come out a day early. My kind of girl.

At the end of the night, I walked her back to Bally's and she kissed me on the cheek. "Give me your phone," she said.

I handed it to her, and she entered her number in my contacts. "Vegas Kandy," it said.

"Is that really your name?" I asked.

"Are you calling me a liar, Ground Possum? Call me tomorrow night. You can meet my friends." She threw her scarf playfully around her neck and turned dramatically away from me.

I walked back smiling to my room at the MGM. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a Certs, (with retzin). I wondered if I should text her to meet me at the top of the Stratosphere at midnight, but decided against it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Gamble That Didn't Pay

So last week or so, I was in Vegas for a few days. Mostly I was there for a conference, but of course, I succumbed to the urge to throw a few dollars down on a table here and there. One night, after leaving said dollars on said tables, I went up to the room to rest. Upon settling in, I found that I craved a little of the sweetness. Knowing that any candy found in the gift shop would be ridiculously expensive, I wandered into the vending area with a few dollar bills.

Upon inspection, I found that the machine offered mostly chocolate candy bars. That is all well and good, but I wanted something fruity. The only non-chocolate option was Twizzlers. Now, faithful readers know my take on the Twiz-- I have not hidden my relative disliking of the waxy ropes. However, I was in a bind: I did not want to go back down to the gift shop, and I did not want chocolate. Also, the package of Twizzlers was one of those giant, like 7 ounce bags, so it looked better to me than it normally would. A lot of crap is better than a little, I guess? So, I reluctantly put my 2 bucks into the machine and hit the proper letter and number... and the little metal ring rotated around... and the damn thing did not drop.
You've gotten me for the last time, Twizzy...

I thought about shaking the machine, but there are cameras every five steps in a Vegas hotel hallway. So, what did I do? I put in two more dollars, assuming that another rotation of the ring would give me my prize. No dice, as it were. The ring did free itself of the bottom of the Twizzler package, but it was so long that it fell backwards on top of the set of rings. Only tipping the machine forward would have given me the candy, and I was not willing to risk the sure security beating I would take in some Vegas back room. I'm not losing my fingers for some stupid Twizzlers.

The usual suspects that I could have had were it not for my hubris.

The moral of the story, I guess, is that one should never abandon his principles. Fructor sees all, and He must have been laughing at me that night. The irony is that no matter how bad the gift shop might have been, I could definitely have gotten the candy I wanted for the 4 dollars I wasted. Instead, I wet the cheap hotel pillowcase with my tears.

I was totally like Dawson here.