This story was originally written in March 2005, when I was given to, ah, a bit rougher language. But, while I offer apologies to our friends in the sex industry, I offer you a little slice of life ...
Friday, 4 March
LAS VEGAS -- The three of us arrived around midnight Thursday: Myself, my cold and my friend Joel, who conked out to sleep shortly after we checked in at The Rio. But I needed to go out, for medical reasons; a cute new co-worker had advised me that "a shot of vodka, a glass of orange juice and a nap" would clear up my sinuses. Naturally, I thought: Screwdrivers.
After stopping by The Palms (Site of a past Real World, but otherwise nothing special), I returned to the Rio and migrated toward a bar. To my right sat a woman in a too-short pink top, a way-too-short denim skirt and glasses. I ordered my second Screwdriver of the night and thought nothing of it, or her.
Suddenly, someone else caught my eye: a blonde, model-thin and Britney made-up. She met my gaze and waved me to join her. Red flags went up immediately in my buzzing head.
"I can't speak in sign language," she said when I got to her. Mine was rusty, too, I replied. We kibbitzed for a few seconds before she asked, "So are you hangin' out or messing around?" Hangin' out, I answered. She looked me in the eye.
"If you feel like" -- she shimmied her shoulders -- "messin' around, come get me." Dollar signs flashed in her eyes. Okay, I replied, before making a beeline for my seat, barely hiding a laugh.
Enter Screwdriver No. 3. Pink Top took notice: "Mine's a fuzzy navel," she said. "It's not too different." I noticed she had short brown hair and glasses, my Kryptonite. Suddenly I felt charming.
"It's for medical reasons," I said, tapping my nose. "I'm getting over a cold." We started talking. She was visiting from Orange County, meeting up with the woman to her right, a mid-thirties or so-looking wavy-haired blonde from Portland. Wavy had the sense to wear jeans, given the temperature was in the 40s or so outside.
"I felt like wearing my skimpy stuff tonight," Pink Top said. I still felt charming.
"It works for you," I replied. "I almost wore mine, too, but it was too cold." That got a laugh. If you only knew what I've worn in public, I thought. I recounted my encounter with Britney.
"That blonde over there? Totally workin'," I scoffed. Pink Top's friend eyed me disapprovingly. My new friend and her friend promptly excused themselves. Almost.
Just as they were about to leave, another man intercepted them, and bought Wavy a drink. Pink Top returned to her seat and forgot I was alive. I decided to stay and watch this latest drama. Enter Screwdriver No. 4.
The guy was here for pleasure; in his regular life, he was a city administrator for a small town near Kansas City. I kept drinking and kept listening. I looked over: both women were rapt in attention at his game. No sense denying, I was a little jealous; a guy like me getting passed over for Toby Keith's retarded cousin?
Then I started wondering, if they left after I told them about Britney ... naaah, no way ... Were they working, too? I smiled to myself at the potential scoreboard: Ho's: 3, Garcia: 0, but figured I was just being Paranoid Bitter Single Guy; this mood would pass. I looked over between sips: Wavy did all the talking. They got on famously. Pink Top played wingwoman.
Suddenly, I thought I heard figures being mentioned: $360, or "a package" for $500. The alarm went off in my head again: I WAS RIGHT! I grinned like an idiot, feeling like Hercule Fucking Poirot. And I kept listening.
"I'm not used to having to pay for it," Kansas Guy said. I WAS RIGHT! Finally, Pink Top acknowledged me again: "You didn't know who you were talking to earlier, did you?" she asked me. I WAS RIGHT!
I promptly, sincerely (drunkenly) apologized. Britney just cracked me up, too much not to share the story, I explained. Pinky understood: "We try not to be that obvious," she said. I bought her a hot chocolate. She nudged Wavy and let her know that I know. Wavy shook my hand and introduced herself. Then Kansas Guy introduced himself. I WAS RIGHT!
Pink comes out here every few months, she explained. She and Wavy roll together for safety's sake. "She takes care of me," she said. We sat quietly for a few minutes, while Wavy and Kansas Guy talked. It's pretty sad, actually: Pinky's younger than I am, and looked like the kind of gal I'd see around the neighborhood.
She nudged Wavy. "Haven't seen her here in awhile," she said. I asked who. She pointed at a stocky, long-haired brunette in an all-white ensemble. I asked how many women were, "Uh, you know ..." She didn't miss a beat.
"Just about every girl at the bar," she said.
I WAS RIGHT!
We talked a little more, but each of us knew it wasn't going anywhere. It's easy to be moral when you're waiting for the rent cheque to clear. She leaned toward me.
"Go get some rest," she said. "Get well." I touched her arm.
"Take care out there," I replied. "There's a lot of yahoos out there." It probably sounded condescending, but I did mean it. As Wavy kept wooing, Pink walked to the other side of the bar and got back to work with a couple of guys. I was almost done with my drink.
Wavy and Kansas Guy stood from the bar. Pinky quickly joined them. He had a defeated look in his eyes. Within moments, the three of them walked toward the elevator. I finished my drink and thanked the barkeep.
"This town cracks me up," I said. My sinuses were clear as the sky.
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