For once, “strip” and “Cheetah Club Boyfriend” do not add up to naked ladies. Necessarily.
By Hannah Wallace
Why?!” My father’s face contorted like he’d eaten a bug.
All I said was that CCB and I were planning a trip to Las Vegas. Not that his response was surprising: The man owns only one tee shirt with a company logo on it (Country’s BBQ in Troy, AL, near his hometown); for Dad, Vegas is hell.
For me—and a lot of people, obviously—Vegas is a longed-for over-stimulating jolt, the annihilation of self-inhibition. And with that inhibition goes the concern that you’re holding yourself back from experiencing life. Vegas is an all-out sprint, like when you ran for the swings at recess and didn’t care that anyone might be watching you.
Like when you occupy a spare afternoon by drinking a triple-espresso with a side of jelly beans.
Like Disney World, but without all that family-friendly crap.
Like Bacchanalia, but fewer Romans.
…or so I’ve heard.
This trip celebrates our one-year (and a bit) anniversary—an “an-Nevada-Vegas-ary,” as Monica said on Friends (and now I can’t stop saying). CCB was so proud of coordinating our first date last April on Friday the 13th.

And he managed to sniff out a helluva deal for Vegas, too: two round-trip plane tickets and four nights at the Mirage for $1,000 total. We’re also getting in to see Cirque du Soleil’s O for free—God bless my parents’ involvement in the nationwide web of theater folk; a former Asolo stagehand is now the stage manager for O. He’s even giving us a backstage tour. (If we want to see Cirque’s “seductive” show, Zumanity, we’re on our own.)

 My bag is packed. As you can see, I’ve given a lot of thought to the necessities.

For everything else, we’ve counted our pennies, rounded up our yard sale earnings and annihilated our savings accounts, all while contemplating vague plans to budget ourselves daily. (Improvised budgeting—that always works, right?) Our bags are packed, and I sit excitedly on the verge of the bright lights, the vibrant prostitute flyers and the great unknown.

Our bowl of change gets sorted into wrap-able stacks--$114.47 worth!

But come to think of it, this won’t be my first Vegas experience.
Just before my 13th birthday, my mother and I flew west into Las Vegas to visit my father, who was spending the summer in Cedar City doing Our Town’s Stage Manager and Timon’s Soothsayer at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. We only drove past the Strip on our way out of town, but I do remember waiting to fly home out of the Vegas airport: My mother, not a gambler, felt she’d be remiss if she didn’t throw some spare quarters into an airport slot machine. Invigorated by her whimsy, I looked on—until airport security asked for my age. “Anyone under 18 has to stay at least 20 feet away from the machines,” the guard told us. I felt horrible for ruining my mother’s fun. Mom, however, was unfazed. “Go ahead and look around that store, honey,” she told me, eyes glued to the spinning fruit. “I’ll be with you in a minute.”
Actually, it was 45 minutes. Now it’s my turn to play the slots, dammit.
Any Vegas tips or recommendations? Post a comment below.