I can never decide if I absolutely love Las Vegas or if I absolutely hate it. I believe it’s a little bit of both. It’s undoubtedly one of the most divisive cities in the world, but it’s also the most divisive in my own head.
I first came to Vegas shortly after turning 21. I stayed for a week. Rookie mistake. Everyone who has ever been to Vegas knows that three days is the maximum you can stay in the city without going absolutely insane.
So this weekend I find myself in Las Vegas again. For three days.
I’ve been here a dozen or so times now in the past decade. Each time I’m so excited when I step off the plane (or out of the car) and first see The Strip™. And that excitement usually lasts until I inevitably stay out too late on the first night. By the time I’m going to bed, I’m second-guessing my decision to come to Vegas.
Then I wake up the next morning, and I’m fine. Excited again to be in a city with so much activity. But the fact that the journey to get outside always leads through a casino floor labyrinth — the same labyrinth where you just lost money the night before — is a particularly cruel form of punishment.
And nothing — nothing — smells more distinctive than a casino floor. Some smell slightly different than others, depending mainly on how good their air filtration system is. But they all smell basically the same: a combination of cigarettes and conditioned air being treated with some sort of flower-y scent. The smell is tolerable for 30 minutes, max.
I’m slowly learning that the key to Las Vegas is moderation. Almost everything the city offers is fun in spurts. But this is weird since the entire goal of each activity is to get you to over-indulge. And again, maybe that’s why I have such a love/hate relationship with the city. Its very essence is schizophrenic.
I also think the “Disneyland for adults” moniker is total bullshit. If anything, it’s more like “Epcot for adults”. Basically every casino is themed after some other place in the world. And that’s really cool and fun unless you’ve actually been to any of those other places.
So why do I keep coming back? Because despite trying to be like other places in the world, as a whole, it’s actually not like any other place in the world. And you can come back dozens of times and have a completely different experience each time.
And, of course, there’s the allure of winning money. No one ever tells themselves they’re not going to win before they get here. And yet so few people actually do win.
But hey, next time.