Welcome to Cooch's World.

Taken from the airwalk between the MGM and New York, New York ... like you really needed to know that.

Charlie From The Room
-- "Hi. I came to Las Vegas because I hate drinking and gambling."

   I really wasn't sure what I was going to think of Las Vegas, especially in the face of all telling me I'd love it. This missive, fired off on the airplane somewhere over Iowa, pretty much says that:

   It could just be that I've got way too many things on my mind right now, regarding my future and some of the very important people in it, but I wouldn't list "excitement" as the correct check box on my emotional state right now.

   Vegas is so many things to so many different people -- just a place to revel in all things sinful, to do the things you'd never do anywhere else -- there's a good chance a dork like me, traveling with another dork like me, could be rubbed the wrong way by all of it. That the heat and the hookers and the endless, endless train of fake people and debaucherous behavior could just me shut down, unwanting and unwilling to cope.

   Or I could end up buying a piece in a time share.

   All I know is I don't know what's gonna happen. And that this plane better land soon, because just writing about it has me hoping to see that oasis in the desert sooner rather than later.

   And as it turned out, I was little more correct that I would have hoped. I'm sure my being a big loser played into that somewhat, but more than that, I just didn't feel like the tone of Vegas and I agreed too much. Sure, going out there with someone who's violently opposed to doing the kinds of things people my age do for fun probably wasn't the best idea, but it just reached a point where it all seemed like just too much.

   In the sweltering heat of summer, which is unbearable even if all the interiors are heavily air conditioned, there's just no escape from gambling every second of every day that you're out there. And I just need that break, because I don't enjoy throwing my money down the well that much. Arriving on a Thursday night, my late Friday I was wishing I'd saved the $1,000 for everything and spent the week with Meg. I recall remarking in my notebook:

   Building all those casinos just attracts the dregs and f'ing pervs who abuse those things. There's a reason it's so hot out here ... we're actually in hell.

   Casinos are nice places to visit, to have a little fun at and leave. Not to live in and go to the hoity-toity useless shops and overpay for food where you're just paying for the chef's name on the marquee.

   Never mind the fact that all the people there are prettier than you, with the notable exception of the hillbillies, who will somehow always defy the odds and leave rich while you're trying to knock over a liquor store so you can play the slots for another hour.

   After a Prozac, I felt a lot better.

   But as with everything, things picked up. I still think there's probably better things I could have done with the $1,000, but I did enjoy myself out there. Five days is about the cap I'd recommend out there -- there's so much to see, and so many good places to eat, but I was sufficiently ready to come home when we made our way back to McCarran International.

   A cast of literally a dozen put this free-for-all together:

-- Taken at Imperial Palace.


   • Now a graduate of UMass, this is the second major CW trip Charlie has been on, the other being Crashing California. He now trails only Meg, who has been on three trips, in this sad statistic.

   Clothing Note: Owns 17 of this very yellow shirt.

-- Taken next to Beef Jerky Store.


   • The consummate gambler, Jon has now lost at more casino games than most people even know exist. Spent much of trip trying to find the casino that offered 'Pick A Number' in Vegas Vacation.

   Clothing Note: Owns eight colors of check shirts.

-- Taken at ESPNZone, NYNY.
-- Chris and Shawn, TRASH Vegas teammates, playing bubble hockey.
(Not Shown: Their respective fiancee and wife, who weren't there at the time.)

   And now on to Vegas, just another quiet town in the vast desert wilderness.
Next ... Flying With Ms. Frizzle

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