Las Vegas, Part Four: Better Odds at M+Ms World

16 Nov

from August 28, 2008

M+Ms World, sandwiched between the World’s Most Neon McDonald’s and a store that caters in bondage outfits for all ages, is directly across from New York New York. It is ironic that while Mayor Bloomberg has almost eradicated all the sex shops from Times Square, here’s one, in Las Vegas, in the shadow of the Empire State Building.

The M+M store is bigger than a postage stamp but smaller than a cracker. I’m not talking about Ritz Crackers because those are round. I’m talking about the average square saltine you get in a diner when you order soup. Those are square, in a plastic package, and one of them is usually cracked in half while the other broken into tiny dust-like fragments when you try to open them. I’d guess the square footage of the store is about 3 or four square feet. In fact, to enter the store, I had to wait for two little kids to leave so I could set foot inside. And that was only one foot. No matter how far I walked inside the store I had one foot outside. I know that sounds impossible but, hey, this is Vegas! It was that small.

What it lacks in width it makes up for in length, as some men will tell you. The first floor did not sell M+Ms. It sold M+M tchotchkes and t-shirts. The escalator took us up to the second small floor. This was decorated with M+M versions of famous movies. Here was M+Ms Jaws. There was M+Ms E.T. And off in a corner, near the display of Green M+M merchandise, was M+Ms Deep Throat. This was the theme floor. There was all kind of licensed merchandise, but none of the movie posters. In fact, there was no cool stuff at all, unless you like NASCAR, because this floor had nothing but M+Ms driving race cars, M+Ms racing apparel, and M+Ms stuff that would appeal only to rednecks. And no actual M+M candy.

Up on the third floor was stuff dedicated to, I think, little Japanese girls. That’s all there were, about 100 of them, all squeezed into this tiny little level and all of them were buying some kind of combination t-shirt/M+M dispenser. It was very crowded and I never did figure out what the heck they were buying. I went up to the next floor.

The M+Ms were on the top floor. Every color you can imagine, and some you can’t, like ultra-violet, were there. I saw puce candy and I saw metallic candy. I saw almond candy and I saw crispy candy. I saw a diabetic go into shock just from smelling the sugar and I saw kids stuffing their faces while people behind the register shouted “Hey! You have to pay for that!” We found some little blue statue for my brother’s staff and bought a 1/4 pound of M+Ms, for which we were charged like $20. Vegas!

We weaved our way out and back out onto the Strip. We walked back to Caesar’s to get the shuttle. Going back was the same gauntlet of “tap, tap, flourish” (hooker’s cards) and “coldest water on the Strip!” (in lukewarm water.) We took a lot of pictures and made it back to the bus, and then to the Rio.

It was about six o’clock and we’d had a long plane ride and a long trek along the strip so we knew, without a word, instinctively, what came next- the pool.

I did not go to the Brazilian pool. A pale fat guy peeking over his magazine to leer at the topless girls probably would not have been appreciated. Wearing sunglasses would not have helped because my erection would have given it away. Not being a pervert, or at least not wanting to be spotted as one, I stayed in the regular pool, where the poolside waitresses in their thong bikinis would have to suffice.

We got to the pool and my brother dove right in. I wimped out because when I stepped on the ladder I couldn’t believe how cold the water was. It felt good, but I wasn’t going to dive in and shock my system. I’m sure that Nevada has a great health care system but I wasn’t about to have a heart attack over cold pool water.

I put in one foot, slowly. Ahh, so far so good.

The next foot went well too.

I reached the second rung on the ladder and was in to my knees. I stopped there for a second, looking, I’m sure, stupid, and climbed down one more rung. I was in just below the waist and was thinking about taking the plunge and getting it over with when the life guard blew the whistle and the pool was closed.

I got out and dried my legs.

We went back to the room and by now the jet lag had caught up to me. I was tired and we went to eat at the sports book, where we ordered giant sandwiches and watched the Mets play (I love East Coast games on West Coast time.) Of course they lost.

I was ready to gamble. I’ve never played table games but that was my time to try. My brother and I sat at a blackjack table and got $100 each in chips. In about 10 minutes he was out. The minimum bet was $15 and his $100 didn’t go far. Two minutes later I found out the same thing. I had won a single hand at blackjack and lost $100 in 12 minutes. But big spender that I was, I tossed the dealer my last $5 chip as a tip. The dealer knew I was a newbie. It wasn’t good enough to say hit. She had to teach my the hand signals, which I messed up. I also found out that I could only keep one hand on my cards, which I kept forgetting, and no matter how often I win when I’m playing cards against the woman behind the counter at the laundromat, I didn’t remember that an ace is also a one at the table.

So we went to the machines. I usually don’t play the slots. I play the video poker machines. I’m not sure that the odds are any better but I like to think that I have at least a little bit of control over the cards. And slot machines are just weird. If you play one line you’ll get a jackpot on another line. If you get a jackpot on your line it’ll be small because somehow, you didn’t put in enough money. On some machines there are ten or twenty or more paylines. Some of them are straight and some of them zig zag across the screen. I swear I saw one that was continued on the next machine.

I found a poker machine, jacks or better, 25 cents. If I played the max it would only cost me $1.25 when I lost a hand. And I lost a lot of them. The whole trip, despite the occasional flush or straight, I was never ahead. Luckily I’m not a big gambler and I didn’t risk much. I would have done better at the bowling alley.

It was 10:30 in Las Vegas, which may be only 7:30 New York time but is more like 5 o’clock, philosophically, because that’s when things just are getting started. I was tired and ready to go to bed (jet lag, remember) when the music started up and the waitresses got up on top of the slot machines and danced.

You’ve got to love Vegas. Free drinks, gambling, and waitresses in mesh dresses over thongs dancing over your head. No wonder people don’t want to leave. That’s one of the selling points of the Rio, as I found out. It isn’t a “casino,” it is a “resort.” A casino has free drinks and gambling and waitresses in skimpy outfits. In a resort the waitresses also pole dance.

But I was honest to god tired and we went back to the room and watched Sports Center before falling into a deep sleep. I usually don’t sleep well on the road but on this trip I slept like a baby every night.

What was on tap for Day Two? The buffet, Star Trek: The Experience, and cousin Marty.





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