I was somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the radio began to lose hold of NPR. I felt a little lightheaded and then suddenly the radio spectrum was filled with country music and Christian stations like a sky full of giant bats. I put aside the fear and loathing and somehow made it back to Caesars Palace to have dinner with Matt Maroon at Bradley Ogden, where I planned to use my once-a-year $400 birthday food comp from Harrah’s. Unfortunately Matt had a plumbing emergency in Akron and had to change his flight, so I called Alan, who was happy to be pressed into service at the last minute to dine at one of his favorite restaurants.
While I waited for Alan to arrive I hung out in Caesars’ Seven Stars Lounge, the über-VIP room open only to those who gamble at least a million dollars a year with Harrah’s. While the room has plush chairs and sofas, original art, and complimentary food and drink, the real star of Seven Stars is Elisabeth, the 23-year-old farm-fresh blonde butler. In addition to being the friendliest person in Las Vegas and very good at what she does, Elisabeth (whose mother put the “s” in her name so she would never be called “Lizzie”) wants to be a scientist some day. Geek girls are my bag but I’d have to take a number with Elisabeth, who’s happily married with a baby, so I content myself with sipping 2002 Joseph Phelps Cabernet, munching on lamb chops, and engaging in geek chat every few minutes when she comes by.
Alan arrived and joined me for the Phelps, which unfortunately had moved to the inferior 2003 vintage, while showing me photographs of cats on his cell phone. It was time for our reservation so we tore ourselves away from the lounge and Elisabeth and segued to Bradley Ogden. We enjoyed squash soup and frogs legs to start, then Alan had the monkfish while I had the pork tenderloin. They had the 2002 Casa Dalla Valle so I introduced Alan to it. After dinner we had a few comp dollars left so we had a couple glasses of the Glen Goyne 17 year single-malt Scotch. The Maroon arrived and we caught up awhile before I retired in anticipation of an early flight to Reno in the morning.
I hate early flights but I wanted to get into Reno in time to get some gambling in and then hang out with my two buddies from New Orleans, John and Gabe, now hosts at Harrah’s Reno. I rented a Mazda 6 from Hertz and pulled it into Harrah’s, where they gave me the Imperial Suite on the key-access top floor. Now getting the Imperial Suite at Harrah’s Reno is a little like getting the Honeymoon Suite at the Days Inn but it was worth it for the reactions from the Chinese women every time I got in the elevator: “Ooh, you top floor! You have good room! You play lots!”
I played lots and then twisted John and Gabe’s arms into joining me for dinner at Harrah’s excellent steakhouse. The waiter suggested a seafood platter to begin and who were we to argue? We drank a nice 2002 California Pinot Noir to start, then went to the 2002 Ch. Pichon-Longueville Bordeaux. I ordered the buffalo topped with thin slices of foie gras and guzzled the Bordeaux to wash away visions of Indian massacres and force-fed geese.
Gabe had a friend who was opening a new restaurant that evening so we took a limo over and discovered the place was crawling with gorgeous young girls, apparently dancers from a nearby men’s club who had been invited to seed the crowd for the group of investors they were entertaining. Two of them glommed onto us right away, getting cozy and chatting us up briefly before inviting me to take them gambling, which basically sounded like inviting me to give them money for nothing, so I politely declined. They asked us to come by the club later and Gabe raved about it so we went over to the FQ Men’s Club right behind Harrah’s, where we had started.
I don’t go to many strip clubs but this was one of the nicest I’d been to. It was uncrowded and full of very pretty girls, some as young as 18 per local ordinance. One very cute, petite blonde around 19, Dawn, approached me and said she’d seen me at the restaurant but didn’t want to intrude. “Intrude away,” I said, and she chatted me up awhile. She had a perkilicious body despite the mandatory Chrysler logo all the strippers seem to have on their lower back. I discovered she was a geek girl and bought a couple lap dances from her at $20 a pop. She kept telling me how klutzy she was in the huge platform shoes she was wearing and proved it by tripping and falling into my lap a few times. I love geek girls.
I paid Dawn for two dances plus one more in advance and she asked for my card. I gave it to her and she wrote down her information on a second card. I guess they don’t give phone numbers any more, just email and Myspace. Gabe got rip-roaring drunk on Sapphire and tonic and when he entered his bellicose phase, unwisely bloviating and gesturing at a table of young Latinos, I ushered him out and implored him to take a cab home. I hung around a few more minutes waiting for Dawn to finish with the Latinos but a stunning mocha 18-year-old named Natasha came up to me and asked if she could dance for me. I heartily assented and even at 3 a.m. it was hard to ignore her charms. We didn’t connect on a geek level like Dawn, though, so I paid her for the one dance, waited a few more minutes in vain for Dawn, then left for the Imperial Suite solo.
I decided to look up Dawn’s Myspace profile to see if there was a note to text her if you wanted her to come over after work but the name she gave me did not exist. The phony phone number of the 20th century has given way, with the dawning of the new millennium, to the phony Myspace. I got to bed around four.