Bill of Rights Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 376, July 16, 2006

"I will not see libertarianism redefined or watered down"

What Happens In Vegas. . . Happens In Vegas
by Jonathan David Morris

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

Last week, my wife and parents and brother and I all traveled to Las Vegas for the first time in our lives. It was a rather unusual vacation. I explained what happened to one of my friends the other day, and he responded by saying it was almost like two vacations in one: the first, an escape from work; the other, an escape from reality. I would tend to agree with that assessment. To say we experienced Murphy's Law would be an understatement. For one full week, it felt as though we were living Murphy's Life and wearing Murphy's Underwear.

The first day, we arrived at 10 AM local time. The early hour smiling back at us from our watches filled us with a certain sense of hope and potential. This sense was crushed a few minutes later when we learned one of our suitcases hadn't arrived with us.

I've never lost a piece of luggage before. I've always assumed this was something the airlines prefer not to happen. That may still be true, but they certainly don't feel bad about it. US Airways' general lack of sympathy truly impressed me. They actually acted like it was my fault for bringing a bag on vacation.

After checking in at the Mandalay Bay, my wife and I made the mistake of drinking a couple of beers over lunch. This is never a good idea, but it was even worse than usual, given our early flight and the time zone adjustment. When we got back to our room, we called US Airways, who informed us the bag had decided to take the next flight to Vegas out of Philly. The good news was, that flight was set to land at 4 PM. The bad news was, US Airways pledged not to get it to me till ten o'clock that evening. When I informed them the airport was so close I was watching planes take off through my window, they yelled at me in broken English and promptly hung up.

At that point, my wife and I passed out, out of tired, mildly intoxicated frustration. When we opened our eyes, it was 11:30, and the blinking neon McDonald's sign outside informed us the world had gone on without us. The entire first day of our trip was a wash.

We then slept till ten the next morning.

The next day, things started picking up a little. The Mandalay Bay has this whole resort theme going, so we spent a lot of time outside on the man-made beach. This went pretty well for a while. Then someone held my mom underwater in the Lazy River and proceeded to stab her innertube.

The next night, my wife and brother and I went to a place called the Ghost Bar, which is an outdoor lounge on top of the Palms casino. This was a pretty cool place. The views of Las Vegas were unparalleled.

While there, an Iranian lawyer tried to convince my wife to fall off the building so her parents could collect $15 million. A few minutes later, his friend insisted I take a bag of pot from him in exchange for a clove cigarette. We didn't smoke the pot, but we weren't sure what to do with it. We ended up leaving it as a tip for the maid in our hotel room. This was probably for the best. The TSA "randomly" rifled through my checked luggage on both the trip to Vegas as well as the flight home.

After the Ghost Bar, a taxi driver named Ted talked about taking my wife out to the desert and shooting her. When we got back to the hotel, we walked across the street to McDonald's, where we were yelled at and ostracized for walking through the drive-thru.

The next night, my mom obtained VIP passes to move to the head of the line at Planet Hollywood. When we got to the restaurant, we learned that every person waiting for a table also had a VIP pass, and that the wait for VIPs would be 45 minutes.

When we were seated, I secretly told the waiter it was my parents' 30th anniversary. The hope was that he would come out with a bunch of fellow waiters after dinner and sing to them. A little while later, he blew his own cover by mentioning their anniversary in conversation. Then he proceeded to serve them their food while dropping mine and my wife's on the floor. After an hour of waiting for him to re-serve the meals he had wasted, he unceremoniously delivered my parents an anniversary brownie. Then he disappeared.

The trolley ride home after dinner was hell. It took over an hour to drive roughly half a mile back to our casino. The Strip had been shut down by a driver who was shot to death after dragging a bicycle cop who asked him to turn down his stereo. I believe this particular story may have made the national news. At least that's what people have told me. I only wish I knew it was the scene of a shooting while I was driving past it. I would have taken more pictures.

Overall, our trip seemed defined more by the things we didn't do than the things we did. We planned on going to karaoke at the House of Blues, but that death-on-the-Strip thing derailed it. We planned on going to ladies night at some bar at Hooters, too, but then the Toby Keith bar's fried Southern cooking tried to kill us. We never gambled, and the only unexpected nudity we saw was a single nipple belonging to an old Asian woman in the Lazy River. My parents never renewed their vows, which was the original reason we went to Vegas in the first place. And to top it all off, the day before leaving, we lost our driver's licenses in the Mandalay Bay wave pool. Fortunately, we retrieved them several hours later. Unfortunately, the beers we drank to soothe our worries cost a whopping $6.50 a piece.

The last day there, we were told by our shuttle company that we had to be picked up three hours before our flight. This pissed us off (what with the airport being across the street), but we complied, and then the shuttle never showed up for us. I kept calling the company and demanding a ride to the airport, and the lady kept changing her story about the scheduled time. Then, after a couple of phone calls, she proceeded to yell at me, just like the people from US Airways. This was unbelievable, considering how I had paid for the shuttle months in advance. We ended up paying for a taxi.

Then, at the airport, I ordered a hamburger from a Chili's take-out counter, and ended up waiting over half an hour for it. I eventually walked right the hell into their kitchen and scared the crap out of them. I finally understood why Ben Stiller panics and clutches his bag at the end of Meet the Parents. There comes a point when you just need something to cling to.

In the end, it honestly felt like supernatural forces were conspiring to destroy our vacation. The only show we paid for, for instance, was the Comedy Pet Theater, which ended up featuring maybe two whole minutes of pets doing tricks (the rest was about their master's quest to become a clown). In spite of such weirdness, I had an amazing trip, though. I spent way more money than I was comfortable with (this, without gambling). Yet save for a missing 50 (which I fear I may have tipped the driver who ordered our food at the McDonald's drive-thru), I don't regret a single penny I spent.

My only regret is not taking pictures of that police shooting. I really feel like I missed an opportunity on that one.

I guess I'll just have to go back.

Jonathan David Morris writes from Philadelphia. He can be reached at


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