I may have been busy being a banker in 2008, but right in line with my perception of the banking lifestyle, I took a few nights off in the spring to travel to Vegas. I was meeting up with my good friend Murray and his cousin DH, who were flying from Vancouver. It was my first time to Sin City and it was going to be epic.
We were staying at the Luxor. While likely unfit for Ramses II, the rooms were alright for us, except perhaps for the slanted walls. But all could be forgiven since it was a pyramid hotel after all. Our plans were intensely orchestrated by Murray the mastermind himself. High quality buffet lunches were frequented on our first day and there was lots of 2-1 poker table action. A stingy player, Murray held things down while I got into arguments with DH about the Gambler’s Fallacy.
Obviously though, I was right all along about the roulette ball's chances of landing on red after hitting black 15 times in a row. I put my money where my mouth was and got rewarded handsomely. Without understanding anything about the pass line, DH and I then somehow made some decent coin playing craps. I was satisfied with all of the developments, and we all headed back to the hotel to get ready for the club.
We were heading over to Tryst at the Wynn. Murray warned us that there might be big lines in store but I assured him that we were going to get in. I had a penchant for gaining access to exclusive events. Just go ask Diego Luna.
The cab ride over was highly entertaining. The driver, after learning that we were from Canada, shared his Sidney Crosby stories with us, indicating that #87 loved ‘titties.’ I gave my own breakdown of the situation and said that Crosby didn’t become great until Mario Lemieux forced him to take showers with the rest of the Penguins. Nudity was clearly the key to success in hockey. Anyhow, as Murray predicted earlier, the lineup to get into Tryst was fucking insane. It curled for numerous meters inside the resort.
At that point, I knew what had to be done. In a completely improvised move, I told the guys to stay back in the casino area, and out of the eye sight of the club bouncers, who were standing in front of the large entry doors, behind red velvet rope. I said that I was going to talk to them. Perplexed, Murray said, “what the fuck man, what are you doing?” But I walked away and told them to stay right there.
I didn’t really have much of a plan at all at the time, but as I approached the team of large, chiseled security men, it hit me like a flash of light. I took a deep breath, inflated my chest out, and walked confidently up to them. I raised my hand slightly, indicating that I wanted to talk while making eye contact with a security manager looking guy that was wearing a dark suit and an ear piece.
“Hey, what’s up?” The man said aggressively.
“I’m just running ahead of a VIP; just wanted to make sure we gained smooth entry tonight,” I replied.
“Who’s the VIP?” He asked.
“Paul Haggis,” I said.
“Paul Haggis? Who’s that?” He replied, looking puzzled.
“What? He’s a director. He won an Oscar for Crash a few years back. Anyhow, just looking for a discrete time tonight guys,” I quickly retorted.
Still perplexed, the security guy began calling someone on his radio.
“Yeah, we have Paul Haggis potentially coming in here,” he said. And then after a long pause, “Ok, Ok. Yes will do.”
“Alright, where is he?” The bouncer then said.
“Yeah, he’ll be down in 2 minutes,” I told him.
“Ok, come flag me down. I’ll be here,” The guy said, seemingly convinced.
It was a wild turn of events folks. I excitedly walked back over to the crew to let them know that we were in. Murray was incredulous. “What do you mean I’m Paul Haggis,” he kept saying, while the buff DH, who could pass for personal Hollywood security any day of the week himself, couldn’t stop laughing. I mean, I don’t know how I would feel about trying to pull off looking like a 50-year old bald movie director but that’s what the 29-year-old Murray was dealing with. At least there was a nephew-like resemblance.
Still not believing the whole plan, they followed right behind me as I made my way back to the front of the club. The bouncer made eye contact with me, sized-up Murray and then nodded. They escorted us right in and even waived the $50 entry fee. The funniest thing about the incident was that some other security guy checked our IDs on the inside but nobody was able to uncover our lies.
They had even setup a nice standing table for us. I mean, it wasn’t like Haggis was a known baller — so no booth — but not bad. And somehow, word had leaked that Haggis was in the house. All sorts of characters kept coming up to Murray and saying that Crash was their favorite film of all time. I bumped fists with Andrea Bargnani and Murray complained that even as Haggis, he couldn’t find any hot women to dance with.
Meanwhile, DH and I made some moves on the dance floor and drank numerous overpriced Red Bull vodkas. It was good times. Overall, a highly successful day one as we recapped events early in the morning before heading back to our rooms. I may have received harsh security warnings for splashing women from the water fountain in the lobby on our way out but luckily everyone was still in one piece.
We all got up late and the plan was to eat and then hit up the Tao pool party. We got a cabana in the shade and some bottle service and did it up proper this time. There were some hot moochers around but we welcomed it. Murray was stingy with the vodka pours anyways. Now someone may or may not have gotten a partial hand-job in the pool but that’s neither here nor there. Omar (my club name), Murray and DH were on fire.
The day of boozing continued. Numerous outfit changes ensued as well as drinks at some of the hottest spots around town. As the night was starting to wind down, the boys wanted to go to the rippers. Belt buckles got broken and there was a push to keep the good times going at an after hours location in Chinatown. It was unclear where we were actually going though since it was a recommendation from some shady characters we met. Also, I only had limited cash at this point (only $120 with no plastic, as per my ID and cash only partying policy).
We entered the dimly lit and seedy establishment and there was an attractive woman standing behind a counter offering a range of packages. There was a Bronze, Silver or Gold option. Murray was reluctant and said that he wanted to get out of there. My interest was piqued though due to my highly caffeinated inebriation. He said that he would be waiting outside and I opted for the $60 Bronze package. I was new to after-hours packages and the receptionist kept insisting that Bronze was not recommended. I said that I didn’t understand why it was even an option then and steadfastly stuck with my decision.
They told me to proceed inside via an internal door, which led to a long dark hallway. At the end of the hall there was a medium-sized room. There were some white, Christmas-style lights strung up, and a firm, foam type of bed/massage table. A tall, skinny blonde then appeared out of another door, wearing a silk kimono. She told me to relax and noted that she would be coming right back.
I wasn’t sure what that meant, so I just continued sitting there at the edge of the bed, still unclear what was happening. She came back with some sort of bottle of massage oil. She told me to close my eyes as she set up a bunch of pillows and gently leaned me back at about a 70-degree angle. Then, all of the sudden, she started oiling my ears down.
I opened my eyes and asked what she was doing. “This is the bronze package,” she replied. I suddenly stood up, and slammed one of the pillows on the ground. It actually didn’t make much noise at all but some massive security guy then came in and asked me to leave. I said I was doing just that, but he informed me of the minimum $40 tipping policy.
Fack me. I got straight hustled. I ponied up the cash and quickly got out of there. Fucking Murray and DH were nowhere to be found. Luckily I still had $20 left for a cab ride back to the hotel. A part of me regretted not getting the full ear massage experience though. Maybe it would have been quite relaxing? Fucking bronze packages. As I got outside, I soon realized that you don’t want to be in Vegas’ Chinatown at 4:30am. There were no bloody cabs to be found anywhere.
Ironically, I could see the Luxor miles away on the strip. The large pyramid, with its various spotlights teasingly streaming into the night. FML. I gloriously failed in my attempts to hail a cab at the street level. And nobody was showing up at a nearby gas station either despite calls to half-a-dozen different taxi companies.
After about 30 minutes of waiting, I started accepting my fate. Google maps indicated that it would be a sobering 80-minute walk back via Frank Sinatra drive. Strangers in the night, I started humming. What were the chances? Dooo do doo do do…and then, I saw a cab randomly drop off some video gamers to some all night gaming joint and got right in without even checking with the driver. Thank god for the gamers.
He was surprised but accepted the fare. I told him that I only had $20 and he said not to worry about it. As I explained my night, he said that I got the classic Vegas tourist rip off. Well, at least my ears were well moisturized now. The arid conditions. One had to be careful.