*None of us here at B&V support prostitution nor should this post be construed that way. We don’t consider it a victimless crime. If you suspect something untoward is going on contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1 (888) 373-7888.
Like almost every other February I found myself in Las Vegas, Nevada again this year. My corporate overlords send me out there annually for “training.” You would think Vegas would be a BourbonAndVinyl kinda town. And I’ll admit I have seen some great rock and roll out there… Rod Stewart and No Doubt to name but a few. But if I’m being honest, I hate Las Vegas. Hunter S. Thompson was inspired to write ‘Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas’ when he was out there and it’s not hard to figure out why that setting inspired that much madness. The NFL let the Raiders move out there… frankly I think it’s going to be like an away game each weekend as that’ll be the game every other team’s fans will travel for, but we’ll have to see. There seem to be Raiders’ fans everywhere.
I found my schedule in Vegas full of dinners with “big wigs,” or the execs I report to. I’m just a sergeant in this man’s corporate army. In the old days we all had to wear blues suits, white shirts and red ties… Now it’s hard to tell the execs from the aging hipsters attending poker tournaments. I’d sit soberly at the cafes and look out at the people walking by. There is no place like Las Vegas for people watching. You can kind of spot the small town couples who have gotten away to get crazy in Vegas… I don’t know how many couples I saw walk by where the dude was dressed like he just got off the back nine – brightly colored, almost tropical golf shirt, skinny jeans (nothing funnier than a fat man in skinny jeans) and topsiders. It was usually the wives that caught my attention. You get the idea that the wives – as part of the whole getting crazy thing – decided they were going to wear clothing that they wouldn’t be caught dead in at home… I saw a woman walk by in a micro mini – and I mean micro… if this was 25 years ago I’d have seen pubes – that looked more like a terrycloth hand towel, split up her hip. The top revealed a heaving bosom struggling to free itself from a push-up bra. Rage on ladies! You get the vibe she’d never wear that in sight of the local pastor… but what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. We don’t judge here at B&V. The faces of the husbands in these duos are hysterical – these dudes always vacillate between a look of defensive rage (“don’t look at my woman”) to the smile of the cat who swallowed the canary. I wanna stagger up and shake their hands… eh, maybe not.
Vegas is famous for a lot of things. Gambling, conventions, bachelor parties, big time shows and of course, prostitution. I have a friend, I’ll call him Lou, who was out in Vegas at the Rio one time. He came back and was bragging about how all the women in the bar were all over him. When I asked if they were hookers, he said, “Yes, they were.” He was somewhat taken aback when I casually commented that being hookers was probably why they were “all over him…” Apparently he doesn’t know how prostitution works. I didn’t mean to upset him by removing the illusion he was irresistible. If my job is to critique a movie, you’ll probably find me in the theater, if you follow me. Hookers gonna hook.
Around fifteen years ago, I was a newlywed. I was a late bloomer but marrying the Rock Chick was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was out at my annual training event in Las Vegas and I was hanging out at the center bar on the casino floor at the Venetian. I had been there most of the week and by day 4, I’d started drinking heavily to try and drive out all of the training I’d absorbed. You can only take so much of Vegas before you start to turn into Hunter S. Thompson. If only I could have found some ether. I’m standing at the center bar, and this thing seemed to be the main trolling spot for the local hookers. They walk around that bar like they’re in a military parade. I had earlier in the evening been menaced by one rather tall hooker when I didn’t tip her for getting the bartender to serve me a beer. I’m a lover, not a fighter so I moved to the other side of the bar to mind my own business.
I’m just standing there, innocently, when a guy who used to work for me approaches me at the bar. We’re talking some inane work subject and out of the corner of my eye I see a woman waving at us from the spot where the menacing hooker had been earlier. This was a petite, ginger young lady wearing a tube top that was barely containing what appeared to be cantaloupe sized implants. She looked like she had two kittens wrestling under her shirt. Why she had chosen to wave at this employee of mine and me is a mystery. I think perhaps I had a bit of a party vibe going. Who knows? The guy talking to me, whose wife worked for us too, notices the waving woman. I can see in his eyes, he’s confused. Apparently my friend Lou isn’t the only one who doesn’t understand how prostitution works. Before I could say, “Don’t wave at that woman,” the idiot in front of me is waving at her. She pops off her barstool and before I know it, she’s standing in front of me.
The bar was full of my fellow employees. When this woman came up to us, it was as if the entire casino fell silent. I knew everyone at the bar had stopped speaking and had turned toward me and the hooker. In my memory it seemed like someone had turned on a spotlight, but that’s probably just how I felt. The idiot who waved her over was now standing behind a slot machine, hunched down to hide so he wouldn’t be associated with this untoward business. Gee, thanks pal. At the time I was working for a rather intensely God-fearing man who would have frowned on this whole prostitution thing. I once said “Jesus-Fucking-Christ” in front of him and you’d have thought I punched him in his bulbous stomach. All I could think about was how I was going to get this woman to go away. At the same time, I didn’t want to be rude – I really am a lover not a fighter – I wanted to treat this person with dignity. I’m the guy who in my youth, if I went to a strip bar for a bachelor party, would ask the girl, “Who hurt you?” It all feels uncomfortable to me. So I’m trying to shun this woman, but in a nice way. Karma, baby.
I bought her a drink because I didn’t know what else to do. She starts prattling on about whatever is on her mind. She seemed bright and I almost said, how’d you end up doing this? At one point she sticks out her tongue to show me her piercing. I’m with Robin Williams who once said, “who would take something as elegant as a blow job and introduce a nail?” When she stuck her tongue out the entire bar gasped… I figured I was being filmed for HR training purposes. Every second she stood there the feeling of mounting peril increased exponentially.
Finally, in an effort to drive the conversation to the point, I said, “So what do you do here in Vegas?” “Oh, I like to go out to eat, I love to go dancing, stuff like that.” Clearly she wasn’t picking up on the fact that I was trying to rid myself of her presence. Either that or she just wanted to torture me which I would have thought I would have to pay for. I quickly redirected the conversation, “No, no, I mean what do you do for a living?” And I don’t know why, but I gave an example, “Like, you know, are you in Real Estate?” I could see in her eyes, that she’d realized I was driving the conversation in a certain direction. She smiled and got a witty grin in her eyes, “Well,” she said thoughtfully, “I guess you could say that…I rent really small spaces for short periods of time.”
I don’t know why, but to me that was a mic drop moment.
I did laugh, it was the first relaxed moment I’d had since being approached. I smiled and held up my left hand with my newly minted wedding ring. “I’m sorry, honey, I already own and I’m not interested in any additional property.” At last, she walked away, but she did so with her dignity in tact. The lemmings at the bar, who actually looked disappointed that I didn’t engage the woman’s services, went back to their drinks and the conversation became audible again.
I don’t know whatever happened to that witty woman. I hope she’s ok and I hope nobody hurt her. But mostly I hope she got out of that life. I can’t imagine what circumstances would drive someone that direction. I’m lucky that way.
It’s a dark ride out there folks. Treat everybody you come across with dignity and kindness. As Pete Townshend once sang, “For the sea refuses no river, remember that when a beggar buys a round.” I’m not sure I even know what that means, but its seems relevant somehow.