Todd DeFeo

Vegas Outtake: ‘Viva Las Vegas with your neon lights flashing’

LAS VEGAS — It took a little while for members of the group to realize, but there is a world outside.

The world outside — away from the endless rows of blackjack tables and roulette wheels, away from the constant flow of alcohol for the more serious gambles and into the fresh Las Vegas air and the bright desert sun.

Unless, of course, you head to Las Vegas for the two days a year it rains. For the record, this year, that was Feb. 18 and 19. I know. I was there. I didn’t have an umbrella. I didn’t care. I wasn’t in Vegas for the street life.

Besides, the more you stay inside (by the gambling machines), the less chance you have of getting soaked. On the flip side, there’s also more of a chance you have of winding up broke. But who’s keeping score? And since whatever you do here stays here, go crazy and live life.

“Oh, there’s black jack and poker and the roulette wheel / A fortune won and lost on ev’ry deal / All you need’s a strong heart and a nerve of steel,” the great philosopher Elvis once opined.

After all, who goes to Las Vegas to stand outside? It’s a desert. There’s sand and mountains in the distance, not to mention the Brooklyn Bridge the Statute of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower and the Roman Coliseum. Where else in the world can claim such a vast array of sights and attractions within miles of each other?

A trip to Vegas — at least the reportable version of such a trip – certainly includes gambling, meals and, if you’re like me, camaraderie. What really happens in Vegas includes some periods of time for which there is no written account. Can anyone say 18-and-a-half minute gap?

Case in point: “What did you do Saturday night in Las Vegas?”

Option A: Come clean and duck.

Option B: Take your cue from the television commercial and calmly say, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

OK, so my group of friends isn’t as wild as I might lead you to believe. And to me, Vegas isn’t just about how much you can gamble, though if you want to lay down some serious bets, that is always an option.

But if you’re like me — that is, playing the penny slots – it’s rather difficult to gamble all that much. I could have stayed in town for a month and only bet $14 at the penny slots. The reality is, if you’re playing the penny slots, either you’ve already lost all your money and you could only find 3 cents on the hotel lobby floor, you found a boatload of pennies before you boarded your flight or you have too many singles left over from Saturday night and the minimum Pai Gow bet is $10.

Seriously, it’s a lot more difficult to convince the drink girl to give you some free booze when you’re dropping a penny into the machine every three seconds. Try the quarter slots, they’re a little more easily convinced.

When you find the time to pry yourself away from the slot machines – or the Pai Gow tables, as the case is with my friends – there’s the chance for some pretty good meals. If a buffet doesn’t strike your fancy, I dare say you could find just about every type of food you could ever want.

Reality sets in at 5:15 a.m. Monday as the wheels of the Airbus A320 hit the tarmac in Atlanta. It’s a long road home with not a lot to greet me other than the reality of work in about 30 minutes. It’s time to put away those stories – no more pretending to be a Hollywood-based celebrity attorney or a Formula II racecar driver (or whatever those people pretend to be on the commercial).

Next time I’m ready to be a stunt double for the weekend, I’ll head to Sin City. So save my seat by the nickel slot machines (I’m going all out next time) and hit me.

Raise those stakes? Absolutely.

After all, “There’s a thousand pretty women waitin’ out there / And they’re all livin’ devil may care / And I’m just the devil with love to spare.”

So, Viva Las Vegas.

About Todd DeFeo
Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits Express Telegraph and Railfanning.org.