In April 2004 I went to Las Vegas with two friends, Sally and Vicky (not their real names).  I love Las Vegas but can’t stay there more than two nights because I run out of money and get myself into trouble.

Sally and Vicky were both sun worshipers.  I am not.  I wear at least spf 25 on a daily basis.  When I’m in a sunny clime I wear spf 50, at minimum, with frequent reapplication when I’m in the shade.  Both Sally and Vicky made fun of me, but I didn’t get burned, something that’s inevitable with my skin if I’m not constantly diligent.

But I love the sun and the heat.  Love it.  Napping in the sun is one of the world’s most democratic pleasures.  We hung by the pool a lot, when the sun was up.

Once the sun went down we gambled.  We went to the Strip’s cheapest casinos where we’d ensconce ourselves at a black jack table early enough that the minimum bet was $3.  Then we’d stay at the same table when the minimum was increased, but due to our early arrival our $3 minimum bet was grandfathered in for us only.  Sadly, casinos no longer practice this nicety.

Sally, Vicky, and I played a lot of black jack.  On that trip we barely ate because we were so occupied with sunning and gambling.

Sally’s black jack strategy meant she never hit if there was any possible way she could bust no matter what the dealer was showing.  This irritated the table’s other occupants to no end, but she refused to change her approach.

Vicky’s tactic was to not count her chips.  When she won she’d only scoop her chips into her general area.  She did not stack them in any way, and when Sally and/or I suggested she should organize them she completely dismissed our advice, told us to shut the fuck up, and gazed lovingly at her haphazard pile.

My black jack deal was (and is) to sit at third base.  I did this for a couple of reasons:  to give me time to count so I could figure out whether to hit (because I followed the more traditional rules of hitting or staying of blackjack, unlike Sally) and so I knew I wasn’t fucking up anyone else’s game.  Also, when I acquired a black chip (worth $100 US) I’d squirrel it away in my pocket.

One night the three of us stayed at a table for at least eight hours.  Ridiculous.  We were all good at chatting with the various dealers and pit bosses, and our fellow gamblers.  Almost without exception the initial question to any new player was inquiry into his home town.  And almost without exception the next question to any new player was inquiry into the hotel in which she was staying.

A couple of guys who sat down at our table told us they were from  Omaha, Nebraska.  I was proud to say I was from San Francisco, and really glad I didn’t have to live in the Midwest.  (Yes, I know I’m an asshole.)

We had been drinking free casino drinks for hours, and hadn’t eaten since we arrived at the casino.  Additionally, I get a little high from gambling, which is why I limit my gambling to Las Vegas only; it could easily become a problem for me.

When I’m drunksies and high I am very flirty.  I was flirting with dealers.  I flirted with the pit boss with a horrible tan.  I flirted with the guys from Omaha.

It had been years since the first trip to Thailand (”Smooth as Silk“) and I had been trying really hard to be a good and faithful wife.  I limited my flirting.  I didn’t look at men much at all, out of respect for my husband.  I tried, for years, to be the kind of wife I thought I was supposed to be.

But flirting is harmless, and the Ex wasn’t around on the girls’ trip to Vegas.

I swear.  True story.

[To be continued.]

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