“Vegas, Baby!” – Part 1

By Julian Draven

Vegas...ah, the land of chokes and screams. The city of neon and glitter. Caesar's Palace, the Luxor, the MGM Grand, black jack, 7 card stud, chain smokers, hookers, drunks, rat bastard old men with liver spots, minimum wage, all you can eat $5.99 prime rib buffets, tourists, yuppie cocksuckers and E. coli. *swoon* Nicholas Cage couldn't have picked a better place to die.

I made my first glorious pilgrimage to Las Vegas this year, from the late hours of August 27th through the predawn hours of August 31st. It all began innocently enough when my good friend Scott, from Tucson, Arizona, mentioned over a casual email that he would be meeting some friends in Vegas. I haven't seen Scott in years and welcomed an opportunity to get to see him, plus I figured a trip around Vegas with a veteran like Scott would be part of the bonus package. Besides, if Hunter S Thompson can have a romp through Vegas and write a book about it which eventually gets made into a movie with that goth's gift to actors, Johnny Depp...well, gothdamnit, my ego certainly tells me that I can do the same...well, at least I can write an amusing web page about it. (Although, Mr. Depp, if you want the film rights, they're yours.)

It has taken me some time to get around to penning this little weekend excursion to Vegas because I've been as sick as a fucking pit bull that ate a pestilent Chihuahua...but, I'm getting ahead of myself again.

Before I even get started, I would like to take a moment to say "fuck all the airlines!" Gothdamn bastards have us by the balls and they fucking know it. I did my ticket pricing on the Wednesday before I left and got a pleasing roundtrip fare of $338. Not too bad, I thought. Thursday morning (after confirming Scott's flight times) I called that sweet, loving travel agent to give her my credit card number and buy my ticket...what a surprise I was in for. It seems the price was no longer $338, but had risen to $657. Fuck that. I hung up on the bitch. I called around to some other places. Here's the part where they get seems that all airlines and all travel agents have the same pool of tickets that they pull from. Don't let them fool you if they say they've got you a special deal, they are lying. One travel agent can't do anything for you that any other travel agent can't do. All airlines have this nifty little conspiracy going. It seems that if you cannot buy your tickets at least 7 days in advance...and that's 7 *full* days, 168 hours, then you are going to get assfucked by the airlines. All of them jack up their rates. No pun intended. Oh, and do they tell you this when they are offering you those sugary sweet deals the day before??? No. They fuck you at the drive through. Cocksuckers.

Anyway. Enough venom at the airline industry. Let's move on to the Vegas story.

My flight left Atlanta at 11:30pm on the 27th and arrived in Las Vegas at 1:00am on the 28th. Now, I know what you're thinking..."that sure is a sexy time to be flying." Oh yeah!! I really wanna try and sleep on a gothdamned airplane while we're cruising 40,000 feet in the fucking air, crammed into those tiny little seats that are designed for anemic 12 year old boys. Shoving the tampon sized pillow between the window and my head, using the Kleenex sized blanket for any sort of comfort while some stewardess with Marlboro breath bugs me every 20 minutes for peanuts and tray tables and half a mouthful of gingerale. Oh yeah!!! I was so fucking hot for that experience I came three times on the way to the airport.

And then to arrive at the Vegas airport when it is half dark, all the shops are closed, the shuttles have quit running because it is so late and the only staff working the airport is cranky and bitchy because they are on the ass end of a 12 hour shift. Oh my goth, did that sound like fun. Sign me up!

Of course I took the flight, all us goths have to travel at night, you know. Praise Caine I was able to get the casket through customs!

In case some of you out there don't know this, I fucking hate flying. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. Well...okay...that isn't quite true. In actuality, I'm fucking well terrified of it. Yep. Scares the ever living shit out of me. I've thought of a 1,001 reasons why I'm afraid to fly, I've rationalized it, I've used logic. I've tried the power of positive thinking...what-the-fuck-ever. Maybe some day I'll bore all of you people with the sordid details of why flying scares the shit out of me...but not today. Let's just say it's a control thing and move on.

Being as I'm so scared shitless of flying, it causes some really strange behavior in me. I'm not really scared of much. I think I'm only really scared of three things:

1. flying
2. crickets
3. a Carpenters reunion tour

Since there are only three things I'm afraid of, I don't have the pleasure of being terrified very often. So terror produces some mighty strange reactions in me. Particularly my terror of flying, because it is my #1 source of fear. Of course, I also get all the typical reactions...butterflies in my stomach, nausea, cold sweats, the shakes, etc. There's nothing quite like the fear DTs. Fun, fun.

Things start to get strange about 48 hours before the scheduled flight. I get edgy, restless, fidgety...and then it happens...the absolute certainty of my death in a flaming ball of wreckage hits me. I become confronted by the fact that I am going to die in that airplane. Fuck the numbers, fuck the fact that flying is so much safer than driving, forget the fact that the chances of being killed in an airline disaster are less than the chance of being struck by a meteor while ordering a cappuccino at Starbuck's. I get visions of alligators eating Value Jet passengers, visions of cannibalism in the snow capped Andes mountains, visions of masked men with automatics bombing my plane because I represent the imperialist American swine. My imminent death is as certain as the fact that Monica blew Bill.

In the past I've dealt with my fear the way all Scotsmen have throughout history...a good, solid bout of intoxication. That's me. I'm that guy in the airport bar. You've seen him, dressed in black, chain chugging that shitty domestic beer they have on draft. That's me. Say 'hi' next time.

I check my baggage, punch my ticket and then head straight to the bar. There's nothing like sinking $50 at the lounge at Hartsfield International Airport to give a fella all the courage he needs to make that flight. I typically keep drinking until I can't read the words on the ticket anymore. I then tip the waitress heavily to point me towards the gate and I stagger aboard the plane, just as they are making the final boarding call. I collapse into my scientifically designed spine torture chair and drop into comatose slumber until the plane stops moving. If we explode in mid-flight, I'll never know.

Unfortunately, as I've gotten older, this little tactic has been less and less successful. Maybe it is because my tolerance for alcohol is too high, but I think it is because I'm just getting old. The further I get from 18, the more I realize that one day I'm going to die. And, as cheerful a thought as that may be for some of you, it fucking depresses the shit out of me. I think a charming and attractive guy like myself should have the right to live forever. Unfortunately, the universe just isn't cooperating with me on this one. I really don't like the fact that I'm going to die, but as much as I bitch, whine, moan and pout about it, the fact remains. Fucking shitty is what it is. I didn't vote for this crap, that's for sure.

So, with my own bleak mortality resting more and more squarely on my shoulders, I keep realizing that each day I live is one day closer to that final, fateful day, when my number comes up. Gothdamn pisser. Can't I write to my congressman about this or something? *sigh* No, I guess not.

And there it sits, plain as day. Fact #1, I will die. Fact #2, that airplane is going to crash in a firey ball while I'm on it. Conclusion, I'm fucked. Better start looking to the afterlife, because this life is getting short. Oh yeah, that's right. The afterlife. Just because I don't believe in an afterlife doesn't mean there isn't one...right? I have been wrong before...well, once or twice. Maybe this will be one of those times??? It's worth a shot, right? So then the question becomes..."how do I assure myself a place in the afterlife?" Well, now that's a damned good question. And for every person on the planet, there is probably a different answer. Fuck. I realize I've only got 48 hours to figure it all out.

So here I am, leaving for vacation in 48 hours or less, and suddenly I get all spiritual. I'm hugging trees, I'm helping old ladies across the street, I'm giving lollipops to my inner child. I get sentimental watching the sunset, I call my mom and tell her I love her, I start calling old girlfriends and apologizing for any mean things I ever's fucking nauseating, I tell you. But, the strangest thing of all is the preparation of my special "flight kit."

I highly recommend a flight kit to any of you out there that suffer from sphincter spasms the instant you board an airplane. A good flight kit can get you through a Hell of a lot of trying times, but especially on an airplane. My flight kit consists of:

1. one pack of Juicy Fruit gum
2. Flavored chewable Tums
3. a toothbrush and toothpaste
4. a pocket knife (in case you need to slit the throat of the passenger next to you)
5. incense
6. a pentacle
7. an ankh
8. a rosary
9. a crucifix
10. the Gideon's Bible
11. The Catholic Bible
12. The Book of Mormon
13. The King James Bible (why take any chances?)
14. The Koran
15. the Torah
16. the Tao Te Ching
17. ten ccs of Heroin
18. seven valium
19. three packs of camel unfiltered cigarettes
20. twenty-seven candy bars
21. a half ounce of marijuana
22. two packs of bic disposable lighters
23. a six armed hookah pipe
24. four rolls of Charmin extrasoft toilet tissue (double this number if travelling with a woman)
25. the Essential Johnny Cash boxed set on cassette or CD
26. any small bird or mammal in case you need a blood sacrifice
27. and three packs of Trojan condoms, lubricated

Now, I cannot guarantee that this flight kit will prevent you from being killed in an airline disaster, but I can 100% absolutely guarantee that if you use this flight kit properly and are in an airline disaster, you will not give a fuck.

So there I am, row 42, seat F, incense in hand, on my knees in the aisle, I've just downed my 3rd valium and I'm in the process of slicing open this rabbit with my swiss army knife while I chant the rosary when the sonofabitch captain of the fucking plane has the nerve to turn on the fasten seatbelt light and I have to return my tray table to its locked and upright position. Jesus Christ, the inconsideracy of some people!