Winning Las Vegas

For MLK weekend, David and I headed to Las Vegas to meet up with some good friends. Last time we were in Vegas, it was NBA All-Star weekend, and this weekend, it was Miss America.  The two events really were not comparable in terms of attracting interesting crowds to Vegas.  Last time, we entertained ourselves for hours watching the ladies hoping to snatch a balla’ and this time, well, there is no interesting subscene of “Miss America” groupies hanging out in the clubs.

So we found other ways to win in Las Vegas.

Winning strategy #1: Get a nice hotel suite. You can’t do Vegas right without having the right digs.  So we opted for a one bedroom suite with a palatially-sized bathroom at The Signature at MGM Grand. Of course, the pros for this hotel is also that it is non-smoking and non-gaming (while conveniently attached to the MGM Grand if you desire those amenities). My preference for such amenities also indicates that these are “winning strategies” if you aren’t too hip and you prefer to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Winning strategy #2: Wake up early Saturday morning for a massage and mani/pedi.  Get yourself some sparkly Vegas nails.

I am not one to attempt much “Vegas flash” both of the sparkly and the skin variety. In college, when in Vegas and hitting the clubs with friends, I thought wearing a red sweater was daring.  For me, that was very shocking, as in college, my clothing options consisted of a color palette of black, greys, navy blue, and browns. So once again, sparkly red nails was my attempt at “Vegas” flash.

Winning Strategy #3: Instead of watching the North Carolina/FSU game, go shopping.

That way, when North Carolina has its worst loss of the Roy Williams era, you have that beautiful Diane von Furstenburg dress you bought at Barneys to distract you. (Now, in hindsight, if only a thirty point loss at FSU was as bad as it was going to get for the Tar Heels…Oh, how my heart hurts for you Dexter Strickland!)

Of course, shopping in Vegas poses its own ethical dilemmas. Who wants to shop at a development owned by some moron who donates millions of dollars to a Pro-Newt Gingrich Super PAC?  I don’t, for sure. And yet, that is where Barneys is. That is where Tory Burch is. That is where, God forbid, the Bouchon Bakery is located, and how on earth can I be expected to enjoy Las Vegas without some pistachio macarons knowing that they are there within my grasp, if only I sacrifice my ethics for one overpriced macaron? Yes, the problem with Las Vegas is that you end up sacrificing your ethics there one way or another. I shopped in stores that pay rent to a corrupt idiot who donates money to a corrupt idiot’s campaign.  If by some nightmarish scheme, Newt Gingrich becomes our president, this will be my cross to bear, and I will feel four years of tremendous guilt.

Consider too, that the best way to spend thousands of dollars is located in the Palazzo Shoppes.  I didn’t indulge, but I salivated just looking at all of the First Editions at Bauman Rare Books. I sighed over handsigned (complete with clever notes) copies of The Beautiful and Damned (people just don’t use the expression “good egg” to describe other people anymore), drooled over leather-bound copies of In Darkest Africa, and contemplated significant consumer debt to by a First Edition of Stegner’s Mormon Country, as a present for David. But, I withheld.

Of course, if you are just looking for guilt over general consumer spending excess, a winning strategy is to try out the new Crystals at City Center. Pretty much everything there is going to set you back a considerable amount. But also, you might be persuaded to purchase something unecessary there because it is simply the softest sillk that you have ever felt in your life.  I know I was.

Winning Strategy #4: Do enjoy watching lots of sports.

But this advice comes with a caveat, just don’t bet on any of those sporting events unless you are betting on Eli Manning. “Don’t bet against, Eli!” was my advice to Erin, and it was the only winning bet placed that weekend.  As much as we all love Tim Tebow, don’t bet on someone that saintly in Las Vegas.

In terms of where to enjoy watching games, casino sports books are fun if you enjoy Chinese men showing more enthusiasm for football games than you will see anywhere else in the world.  Otherwise, Todd English P.U.B. isn’t a bad bet either.

Which brings me, of course to one of the most important winning strategies for Las Vegas:

Winning Strategy #5: Eat lots of good food. You are in Vegas. You don’t have any excuses.

The options for good food in Vegas are pretty much endless, so I can’t even begin to lecture one on appropriate food choices.  This time we were there, we opted for old favorites instead of trying out snazzy new places (of which there are many). I haven’t eaten at Mesa Grill since I left New York, but I miss that queso fundido so much, why not go to the one in Caeser’s if I have the option?  If Matt wants some red beans and rice, then why shoudn’t we just go to Emeril’s? Yeah, I may not be the hippest, but did I not mention that we were in bed in Vegas by 10:30 every night?

Winning Strategy #5a: Enjoy that favorite, impossible to find drink, that you dream about at night and can only find in two places in the United States:

Do you know to what I am referring?  It is in this cup:

STONEY TANGAWIZI!!!! That’s right, don’t be fooled by the boring Coca Cola fountain drink exterior. It is freaking Stoney Tangawizi. The real kind…from East Africa!!

See, it is right there on the Coca Cola World menu:

I don’t think pictures can do justice to how happy I felt ordering up the largest cup of Stoney Tangawezi possible.

Winning Strategy #6:

The best Vegas trips are done with people you love. David and I always have fun when we travel. Then, when you have Matt and Erin there too, non-stop fun is always in the cards.  Of course, that is, until everyone tires out shortly after 9pm.

These may be more unconventional strategies for winning than staking out a place in front of the roulette wheel, but their results are far more guaranteed!

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