Category Archives: Living

The Bad Thing About Vegas Is You

XS Nightclub

Maybe somebody lost their keys?

Last week, I returned to New York City after an eight day stint in sunny Las Vegas. Yep, eight whole days. Did I make it back whole? Yes and no.

It was a great trip. I went extra hard. So hard that I lost a day while I was there. So hard that I’ve spent the majority of the time since my return battling a fever, excessive night sweats, and alien abduction dreams, and I may not ever regain full capacity in my lungs after hacking up some portion of both. In short, it appears that my sins in the sultry heat of the Nevada sun shaved a day or two off of my life expectancy almost as quickly as I shave a day’s worth of stubble from my perennially bald head.

This is the part where a lot of you are screaming, “Fucking Vegas!”, shaking your heads, and pointing your metaphorical fingers in the direction of the 702 area code as if it’s somehow to blame for it all. If you’re one of those people, I gotta tell you that I don’t agree. No, I can’t condemn Vegas for my fuckery, and neither should you, because while Las Vegas may indeed be worthy of its notorious nickname, it’s we who bring the sin to the city, and not the reverse.

That’s right: the bad thing about Vegas is you.

Now, I’ll freely admit that the powers that be in Vegas make it super easy to get up to no good. There are probably more casinos there than schools, churches, and hospitals in the whole of Clark County, the alcohol flows freely (literally, when you gamble), and the gentlemen’s clubs will chauffeur you right to their front doors. For those who’d rather pay than play, the escorts get their sophisticated party on with you at Rehab, Tao, and XS, and while they may not be the ones you take home to momma, they almost always are the ones you’d want to stunt with on Instagram. Of course, drugs are easy to find for any who don’t think the Vegas experience is quite surreal enough, and if you’re lucky, you might even get high for free. Yep, Vegas happily supplies all of that.

But whether they’ll admit it or not, the real draw of Vegas for most people is the other boys and girls who are there to forget themselves, refilling their clear plastic cups at the cabana table while they scope the scene to stagger towards their next bad decision. This misremembering, this stumbling, is only for pretend of course, because what one does in Vegas is either something one has been curious about for a while, something one has fantasized about doing, or something one always does. You don’t go to Vegas to forget who you are. You go to remember.

Yes, the lasers are kinda corny. No, I don't care.

The ones with glowing body paint charge extra.

There’s a poetry to the fact that the Strip, the locale that people envision when they think of Vegas, isn’t even a part of the place whose name it has made so famous. In point of fact, it exists outside of the city limits, and this detached being is fitting for a place with such an otherworldly, almost extra-dimensional character. The people’s Las Vegas is a 4.2 mile long singularity created by the overwhelming pressure of countless desires, both uttered and unspoken, manifest and masked; its potent gravity attracts all who bend their ears—if only for a moment—toward that still small voice imploring them to “do what thou wilt.” It’s the geographic equivalent of Halloween.

The famous saying, which doubles as a warning, goes that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. If you were paying attention to anything you just read, you know that that can’t possibly be true. After all, you brought all that greed, gluttony, and lust with you when you arrived in America’s desert paradise; it’s going right back in your Ferragamo weekender when you head home to your so-called real life, waiting to inhabit you the next time you feel safe enough to be more like yourself.

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The Thirst for Closure

“Why don’t U want me? Is it cuz I’m always following U? U look good in green, BTW.”

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I need closure like Republicans need scapegoats.  In all likelihood, it’s a manifestation of my overall obsessive-compulsive tendencies (I need to finish things). Or maybe it’s a control thing.  Whatever the case, my response to failed relationships is a prime example of this phenomenon.

Here’s a case in point.

I’d been dating this woman for a couple of months.  We’ll call her Shortstuff.  Our Date Quality Score averaged at least a 7.5 out of 10, and although we hadn’t done the do yet, by the fifth date the sexual tension was as thick as a Georgia stripper’s…accent.  I had high hopes that this one might go the distance.  I’m talking at least four months here, maybe even five.

One week, we saw each other two days in a row, then didn’t speak for about four days.  Then, as luck would have it, I was standing on the subway platform with one of my best female friends when I saw Shortstuff emerge from an arriving train.  In a matter of nanoseconds, I went from excited to shocked because I noticed that babygirl wasn’t alone.  To my chagrin there was a big, black, 7′ 15″, oak tree muscle bearing dude behind her.  Mind you, Shortstuff is like a 5′ 4″ Asian woman, so the juxtaposition of those two bodies was not at all ego-affirming.

With that said, after emitting an audible gasp (some of my manhood may have left my body with it), I managed to smile and say, “Hi.”  She hesitated on the stairs, awkwardly greeted me in return, and then got swept up in the steady forward march of Terry Crews‘ understudy.  I ain’t like that shit at all.

I let a day pass before reaching out.  Not that I was playing games, but I thought that it would be in poor taste to hit her up so soon after seeing her with another guy.  I might as well scream, “You’re not banging him, ARE YOU?!”  Nah, son.  The kid can’t be going out like that.  Word to Rob Pattinson.

I hit her on email first.  Nothing.  Waited another day, then called.  Voicemail.  I was down to my third and final card: text messaging.  See, it’s only after the third time that you’ve been ignored that you know for sure that the party’s done.  That’s the Rule of Three.  If somebody reaches out to you three times, you’ll get back to them if you really want to do it. I don’t give a fuck if you’re in a coma, you’ll telepathically contact a muphuckin’ psychic or some shit.  Feel me?

Finally, she responded.  Supposedly, she’d been so busy at work that she’d just been exhausted over the last few days.  After washing down the bullshit with pig urine, I told her that it was fine and that she could just hit me when things got less stressful.

If Shortstuff got in touch with me, Rihanna did.  And since I haven’t been spotted on a beach somewhere in the Mediterranean eating euphemistic Barbadian birthday cake, you know that didn’t happen.  This is when my need for closure kicked in hard.

I knew that she was done with me, but I didn’t know why, and that info was just as crucial to my sanity.  Was it because there was a four day, contactless gap between our last awesome date and our meeting on the platform? Was it because when she saw me, she saw me with a girl?  Or, horror of horrors, perhaps it was because she’d decided that she’d have a better chance of creating her long-desired branch of the Blasian master race with a black man who looked like he was bred for…breeding?  I.  HAD.  TO.  KNOW.

I exercised the nuclear option.  (Don’t worry, I can write that ’cause she’s not Japanese.)  I sent her one more text message, informing her that I’d really liked getting to know her and hoped that we could keep in touch.  Yes, I used the past tense to infer that I knew it was over, hoping to spur a counter-reaction if I’d assumed incorrectly.  And yes, I included a smiley emoticon to let her know that the note was written in a wistful mood, tinged with optimism.  In short, I pulled out all stops in the final thrust for answers.

She didn’t respond.

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Stockholm Syndrome

Back in May, I was listening to two of my best friends ramble on about how I needed to roll on this excursion that they were planning for the summer.  It had been a tough winter, replete with personal and professional drama, and I was told that I needed to reward myself for making it through by going on a crew trip.  We’d party, we’d bond, we’d hang out with pretty girls, we’d embarrass our nation, etc.  It all sounded well and good until they told me of the vacation destination that they had in mind: Stockholm, Sweden.

Cue the Ben Stein face.  “Dude.  Sweden?  Really?  You want me to spend thousands of dollars for a week of blonde women and meatballs?!”  Mind you, I don’t have a problem with either of those things, (although one of them is imminently more appealing than the other).  It was more a question of whether Stockholm had anything else to offer besides Aryan lovelies and spheres of gas-inducing beef.

I need to clear up how wrong I was, for the record.  Literally.  Stockholm in the summer was so much fun that I had to write a song about it.  You can check it out at the bottom of this post.

Of course, it could be argued that the feel-good, synth-hop track that spilled out of my ticker and noggin paints a somewhat lopsided view of things.  I mean, it’s basically all about partying and women…but hey, it’s rap music.  Everybody knows that hip-hop ain’t capable of exploring such profound notions as the grandeur of cultural exchange or delight in the brotherhood of man, right?  Shut the fuck up, Donny.

Seriously though, Stockholm is a fantastic place, full of warm, friendly people.  I think I met one mean person the entire time I was there, and that was a clerk at a convenience store.  Since society apparently values me more than it does her, I’m not even going to count that little unfortunate blip on the Scandinavian radar.  Plus, the gorgeous, extravagantly welcoming women who served as our hosts more than made up for her stank ass.  Tack mycket!

Anyway, I hope you dig the track.  Imagine that you’re in your own happy place as you listen, and you’ll get the feel for what Stockholm means to me now.  Of course with my luck, the next time I go there I’ll get beaten by poliser or blown up by an anti-terrorist terrorist or something.  Whatever.

In the meantime, I miss you, Stockholm.

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The Deciders

You gotta give it to him. He never shied away from a decision...no matter how hairy things got.

I’m usually a fan of liberty.  Determining one’s own destiny, living the life that you want to live, making your own choices, it’s all great stuff – usually.  Still, I’ve been thinking a lot lately that freedom of choice can be an awfully heavy load to carry.  I can’t help but feel that sometimes, it would be uber fantastic to part with some of that freedom in exchange for peace of mind.

You know what I’m talking about.

Should you move to San Francisco for the job you’ve always dreamt of having, even though you know absolutely no one there and doing so would mean walking away from a 15% higher salary?  Do you kick it with Eric, the mischievous golden boy with the soft interior (kinda like a slightly rotten Twinkie)?  Or do you get all homewreckerish and throw your chips down on Alcide, the loner with rugged good looks, a heart of gold and a crazy-ass bitch for a girlfriend?  I mean, even something as “simple” as the admittedly bougie law school/business school conundrum is enough to drive the most stable of us to drink.

So, wouldn’t it be nice to just opt out?

If you could have someone else spend time deliberating, then make the decision for you, wouldn’t that just be awesome balls?  Whenever you found yourself at a point at which your ability to gaze through the fog of your own emotions was too limited to allow you to take another step, you’d simply reach out and *POOF* a helping hand would emerge from the mist to pull you onto the right path.

Think of all the excruciating pain you could avoid and the precious time you could save!  You could approach the biggest challenges in life with a sense of optimism, free from fear of that manipulative bastard, Pride or that relentless bitch, Guilt.  You’d always be secure in the knowledge that whatever happened, you made the best decision that you could…given the available data.  (You know the applicable phrase: shit in, shit out.)

Of course, there would be some guidelines:

  1. No decision would be made by just one person.  Instead, each Supplicant would request a decision from a Triune of Selectors; one subject matter expert, one mental health expert, and one lay person.  The objective would be to assess the relative merits of an option with as holistic a view as possible.
  2. Every citizen of voting age must serve as a Selector once per year.  The service period would last for a month.  During that time, the Selector would be called to serve as needed.
  3. Supplicants can elect to pay a fee for the service, or use it at no cost.  The fee would equal 5% of the supplicant’s yearly salary.  If they are unemployed, or otherwise lack the financial wherewithal to pay, then they would be made to perform an extra month as a Selector that year.  If they choose the free option, then they’d pay nothing, but the Triune’s decision would be unequivocally, incontrovertibly binding.

You might be wondering why the cost is relatively high.  Well, as any American middle schooler will tell you after the Civil War unit in social studies class, freedom is never free.  This includes freedom of choice, kids.

The power to shape one’s life is so fundamental to having a worthwhile existence as a human being that willingly relinquishing that freedom should have a price, too.  And that price should be high enough to serve as a reminder of the value of the possession that you’re handing over to a bunch of strangers.  Plus, it keeps idiots from registering a request every time they can’t figure out whether they should get with the flat-chested one with the apple bottom or the human life preserver with an ironing board ass.

I don’t know about you, but I so would love to have this option in my life.  The decisions only get more complex as I get older, and relying on friends and family to help out ain’t always a good idea.  Are you really gonna get career advice from your underemployed brother?  Oh, and I’d guess that your divorced homegirl going through the custody battle ain’t the best source for relationship tips, babygirl.

Still, I know that this is just a pipe dream.  In the end, we’re all the ultimate arbiters of our destinies; we’ve all got to channel our inner Dubya to become The Decider.  (I know, I know.  I just threw up inside my mind a little after I wrote that.)  And hey, I guess if even that dude can accept the challenge, so can we all.

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Drink ‘Til It Helps

"The first glass is for myself, the second for my friends, the third for good humor, and the forth for my enemies." - Sir William Temple

I didn’t start drinking until I was almost 22 years old.

It wasn’t like I was bowing to overbearing religious pressure or because alcoholism runs in my family and I didn’t want to unlock the fiend gene.  No, I had opted to ignore the strictures prescribed by my childhood faith long ago and my family has produced no more winos than your average American clan.  For me, I think it just came down to the fact that I couldn’t find a good reason to start.

Ever since I could remember, I was always the life of the party.  If there was conversation, I was in the middle of it.  If there was laughter, I probably instigated it.  If there was music, I danced hard.  Unlike some of my more introverted contemporaries, I didn’t need a social lubricant.  Even when I was undergoing the process of joining one of Harvard’s elite Final Clubs, famous for hosting parties where liquor flows as freely as the women who frequent their doors, I didn’t partake.  And at the time, I kind of believed that it would go on that way forever.

Looking back, I should have known that it would be a woman that would eventually drive me to drink.

In the interest of modesty (not mine, but hers), I won’t go into the details.  But let’s just say that I wanted our relationship to go to place that she did not.  Already having drunk deeply from an emotional cocktail formed of equal parts anger, frustration and lust (I like to call it “Palpatine’s Punch”), I decided that it was time to get chemically inebriated as well.  So I drank Smirnoff, I drank Bacardi 151…I just drank.  And I got TWISTED.

The thing is, despite almost losing control, nothing that happened was outside of the realm of my 22-year-old identity.  I mischievously embarrassed my friends, I freestyled interminably, and I made out with a girl with whom I had had no previous sexual encounters.  Fun, fun, and more fun.  It was all me, just at Level 10, and I happily duplicated this experience plenty of times in the years that followed.

Of course, turning the volume up to Level 10 doesn’t always mean that the music is gonna be upbeat.  There have been more than a few times when the song that played was deeply, deeply dark and disturbing.  I’m talking about torrential tears and mumbling with despair disturbing.  I’m talking, “Go walk a couple of miles in the NYC winter so that the wind can slap you until it cuts your face because you’re alone and no one actually cares that you exist so just freeze since you’re ice inside anyway.”  Yeah, like that dark and disturbing.

But guess what?  That was me, too.

I’ve come to embrace these inner visions, even when I don’t like what I see.  Even when I don’t know what the fuck I’m seeing.  Perhaps I enjoy the latter even more than the former – it’s then that I get answers to questions about me that I didn’t even know I had.  It’s like Jeopardy: The Me Edition.

And it’s with that in mind that I implore you to devote one day out of every month to getting unapologetically, undoubtedly drunk.

Now, before you go alerting MADD and AA and the NAACP and S.H.I.E.L.D., I’m not advocating drinking to the point where you lose control of your bladder.  Trust me, I’ve done it, and it’s NOT as refreshing as it might seem.  I’m just asking you to push yourself past the point where you start to want to make some bad decisions, and then halt just before you’re no longer able to define what a bad decision even is.  Once you master this ability, let’s call it the Drunken Dance, you’ll be able to drive yourself to the brink of shitfacedness while staying safely in the realm of passionate self-discovery.

Of course, if you know that you can’t handle your liquor, please disregard everything that I’ve written above.  No one wants to deal with an idiot who transforms into a complete dungmuncher if they even smell a Corona.  That goes for you, Mr. Space Invader and for you, Ms. Sloppy Slutnasty.  Back away from the margaritas and Jäger shots, thank you.

For those of you for whom drinking is not a fast-track to Loserville, I welcome you to heed my advice.  Let yourself go…at least once a month.  You owe it to yourself.  Besides, you’re probably too broke, too busy, or too afraid of the stigma to seek real professional help anyway.  Drinking is way cheaper, plus how often can you leave your therapist’s office with a hot little thing on your arm?  Double win!

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