When Nate and I were in Vegas earlier this year, we spent quite a bit of time with my twin brother, Tino. He moved to Vegas about thirteen years ago to get a fresh start and he’s done pretty well for himself. So well, in fact, that if I were young and single and had an ounce of risk coursing through my veins, I’d run right out there and follow in his size 11 footsteps as fast as my short little legs would allow.
But I’m not young or single and I avoid risk like the plague so I won’t be running out to set up shop in Vegas anytime soon.
Tino likes it out there. He’s still single, a fact that drives my mother to a place called SHEER AND UTTER INSANITY with such regular frequency that I can schedule my calendar by it. “What’s wrong with your brother?” Off to the dentist. “Do you know what his problem is?” Pap smear time. “Explain to me his thinking.” Back to school, already? “He’s not getting any younger, you know.” Time to close the pool. “What’s he waiting for? Me to die?” Ho, Ho, Ho!
Nowadays, I simply hit “play” on my recording of “Mom, he just hasn’t found the right one yet” to be followed immediately by my rendition of “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I know, I know, you’re right, you’re right, you’re right” which usually buys me enough time to run into the kitchen and grab a cookie.
Tino became a bartender soon after arriving in Vegas and wound up working at two of the most popular clubs in town. He has a condo in a building that looks like Donald Trump threw up all over it. It’s used primarily as a pit stop for him to shower and sleep and fling his clothes all around. My kids have their own condo too. It’s called home.
Tino’s condo is ultra modern and luxurious, with one wall comprised entirely of windows from floor to ceiling. I didn’t even realize they were there at first because there were no fingerprints or nose imprints or “Helena was here” condensation scribbles to warn me of their presence. In the corners and on the walls of the condo are sculptures and wall art that cost more than my kidney could fetch on the black market. He has a solid glass olive that’s bigger than my head, with a pimento and everything. The olive, not my head. My head has no pimentos, last time I checked.
His stove and oven and dishwasher and microwave have never been used and still have the protective film on them. His fridge is one mammoth stainless steel ode to condiment storage.
Tino makes his living at The Palms Hotel & Casino, bartending at The Ghost Bar and The Playboy Club, and he took us to both one night. I lived up to my promise not to act like a tourist for approximately 23 seconds before I started jumping up and down excitedly, repeatedly shouting HOLY SHIT, YOU WORK HERE? interspersed with a couple of OH MY GODs and CAN I SIT ON THIS? The contrast between Tino’s life and my life just about bitch slapped me into the following week. Not that I know what it feels like to be bitch slapped, mind you. I’m just speaking metaphorically. I love to speak metaphorically. It’s fun!
The Ghost Bar and The Playboy Club are sleek and glossy and polished and the people who stand and sit and drink and dance and score in them are sparkly and shiny.
The only thing that shines on me are my toes after a pedicure and the last time I was sleek and glossy was when I slid down a fallopian tube.
Tino is surrounded by the rich and beautiful and powerful and chats up famous people and legends on a regular basis. I’m rich and beautiful and powerful only in my own mind and coincidentally, that’s exactly the place I have to go if I want to talk to a legend.
Between the two, I preferred The Ghost Bar and that might have had something to do with my inferiority complex escaping from my purse and beating me senseless as I maneuvered my way through a massive, churning sea of silicone at the Playboy Club. I think Nate would have enjoyed the scenery if he hadn’t been busy searching for his eyeballs that had been mysteriously poked out of their sockets and dropped into someone’s shot glass.
The Ghost Bar was really something. I loved it. I would have married it if that kind of thing was legal in Vegas. Wait … isn’t everything legal in Vegas? Dammit, I should have done some research.
Nate took a picture of Tino and me on the very spot I intended to commit bigamy. Tino is dressed in black because he was bartending that night. I’m dressed in black because I was hoping that the majority of my body would just disappear into the background. What idiot invented flash photography, anyway?
Aside from a killer view, you know what The Ghost Bar has? And no, it’s not George Clooney, because apparently we missed him by one night, a fact that made me cry until I got to sit on the same chair he sat on. My bottom was never so happy.
The Ghost Bar has a back room. You know what was in that room? Aside from my happy bottom? Walls. Guess what’s on those walls? Thousands of autographs scribbled with a black sharpie.
I told Nate to leave me there with my happy bottom and fly back home without me, I’d follow in a couple of years.
We spent several minutes trying to decipher the autographs, only to discover that when you become famous, you are only allowed to write in Serial Killer Flourish. Nate’s been perfecting that particular form of penmanship since I’ve known him. He must be famous. Who knew?
I actually took a lot of photos of the walls, but in my excitement, I messed up the camera settings and the flash against the white wall and metallic surfaces made for some excruciatingly bright photos. When we looked at them at home, Nate screamed MY EYES, MY EYES, grabbed his sunglasses and asked where the atomic bomb was detonated and how did we happen to capture it? I didn’t know what to tell him. I repeat, what idiot invented flash photography anyway?
Here’s a few I managed to capture:
I love me some Rascal Flatts. They’re good people. You can tell by how they signed their name. See? You can read it and everything.
I banged my head a couple of times when taking this shot of Metallica’s autograph. Get it? Banging my head? Headbanger? Nevermind.
Anna Nicole? In a Vegas club? Color me shocked. Right now, chances are she’s busy partying it up with the Big Guy. What I want to know is … who’s the scribble with her here? What if it’s some scuzzputz whose only claim to fame in his sorry ass life was that he bagged a drugged out, tormented lost soul in some drunken binge and none of his loser friends would believe him because he wanted to be all that and a bag of chips and sign his name like a celebrity? Guess what, numnuts? What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas when you don’t have the cajones to write your name legibly.
Then again, it might be Brad Pitt, in which case Hi Brad! I love you! Call me.
Nate tackled me and wrestled the camera away from me so that he could take this shot of Jim Kelly from the Buffalo Bills. Small price to pay for the eyeball thing, I guess.
If we had had a couple more hours, I probably would have found Brad’s and George’s and my man Anderson’s autographs and then I could have died right then and there with a smile on my face and a happy bottom but I was <this> close to becoming a safety hazard, what with the staff whipping by me and hopping over me and crawling under me, and we decided to leave before I found myself entangled in an OSHA investigation.
We were in the elevator heading towards the lobby when two beautiful young women got on and proceeded to discuss whether they should hook up with the guys they had met the previous night. They were oblivious to our presence so we remained silent behind them, listening to their conversation, and as they spoke, it occurred to me that we were old enough to be their parents. And then, wrinkles exploded all over my body when one of them exclaimed, and I quote: “He’s hot but he’s so old! He’s gotta be 29 at least, don’t you think?” They exited and we just stood there with our mouths open, checking our pulses and looking down to make sure we were, in fact, standing in an elevator and not in a cemetery somewhere, with one foot in our respective graves.
But not to worry … my bottom didn’t hear it and remained blissfully happy.