On the road with the supposed mind-body split
I ended up not being able to get my original room for a second night, so I had to go across the road to the Plaza for a slightly more expensive, but also much nicer room. The Plaza is a far more… upscale hotel than the Las Vegas Club, though they’re both owned by the same guy, as I noted previously. I also overheard that the Club is currently undergoing refurbishing, so that would explain a lot.
I had originally intended to type that the Plaza was a classier hotel, but last night I was startled to walk through the casino there — and notice all the dealers were girls in scarlet sequined bikinis, fishnet stockings, and furry boots. One of them was up on one of the tables as well, dancing. Honestly, I felt that particular display put the kibosh on any simultaneous use of the word “classy.” :)
I’m writing this at a McDonald’s on my route, about halfway to where I plan to stop for the night. Driving long distance means you have lots of time to think. It also means you get to occasionally meet the weirdos. I was driving along the highway at one point and realized a semi I’d passed earlier had pulled up next to me, and was signaling to move over into my lane. I didn’t speed up or slow down or anything that I noticed; I figured it would move over when it was past. Rather to my surprise, however, it started shifting over — while it was still next to me. Had I not braked immediately and swung over to drive on the shoulder, the semi would have sideswiped me. I’m not sure what annoyed the driver so, though I could see the trailer was fishtailing a little. Maybe it’s dangerous to not be on the right in such a situation?
Again, I thought nothing of it past that — except that then the semi slowed down. I shifted warily over into the left lane and sped up a little to maintain a steady speed of about 65 mph, which was (as far as I’d seen) the speed limit at that point. The semi sped up too. So I slowed down to about 60… and the semi slowed too.
Fine. I’ve seen that game played better by other jerks, and the best way I know to defeat it is to not play. So I put Dark Star’s cruise control on 65, and kept a wary half-an-eye on the semi. I also took note of his license plate for just-in-case: Nebraska plates with the number 183126 on a pale blueish semi with Werner painted on the side. I must’ve been passing him due to being about 1 mph faster than he, which meant that I really felt for the people behind us, but there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it. I kept a steady forward gaze the entire time, putting a mental wall between me and the semi’s driver so he’d lose interest in playing. Eventually I was pretty much past, but since I have a long tail in the van, and the semi had played games with me earlier when I moved over in front of him, I stayed in the left hand lane for a bit longer, to be sure my shift over couldn’t be construed as incendiary in any fashion.
This took a while, of course, and two cars bunched up behind me and squeezed between me and the semi, passing in the right hand lane before I could properly move back into that lane. Here’s the curious thing: the second car to pass was driven by some beefy young man who flipped the bird at me as he sped by. He pumped his arm a few times to emphasize his action, and I found myself rather amused. My first thought was that the young man doubtless thought it better to take out his anger so on a woman apparently driving alone rather than a trucker. ;)
My second thought, though, was to wonder: since when has a man’s phallus — supposedly a source of pleasure and joy — become a tool for angry punishment? Do guys realize this has happened in the popular consciousness? Does it worry them?
That got me thinking about women’s vulvas, and how they’re popularly considered a source of disgusting filth rather than the source of life and yet more pleasure and joy. Considering this, I find myself believing that most people in our culture do not really like themselves very much, considering how we compartmentalize and vilify various parts of our selves. I suspect all of those pretty girls in Vegas, after all, weren’t happy with their looks. I also suspect one of the reasons “American Storm” (the male review showing at the hotel I was at in Vegas) was so much less well-advertised than the musical “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” is because most men don’t want to feel threatened by comparison to those athletic young (and *cough* extremely nice looking) male dancers. Wouldn’t it be easier to not stress so much about one’s physical form, though?
Whups, out of time — got to get back on the road. More thoughts later! :)
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Interesting points… and yes, I rather strongly agree with your last paragraph on both counts! :)
I imagine that the activity along the Strip is amped up dramatically. Most people, unless they have some specific event they want to go to, will meander the Strip. Thus, the casinos and the attractions do their bloody damnedest to attact people in. So you have crazy things like the entire facade of New York New York, the MGM Grand with its lions, the iconic Dunes and the Cowboy, and (of course) the more-than-occasional racy or risque greeters attempting to lure someone in. I don’t think it’s purposely sensory overload; but it certainly acts to confuse and make someone’s head spin.
And it’s got an element of fantasy to it. Vegas is a completely different world, a different tempo and a different way of experiencing the moment. You’re already there on vacation; the wildness and wooliness of Vegas just adds to the disconnect from the everyday. Normal rules of day-to-day living don’t apply there; you don’t normally walk out of a hotel and see even one percent of what happens on the Strip. “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” is a saying that embodies that view: I think that saying came about because the disconnect from (for want of a better word) ‘reality’ that can take place there leads to more than a few mistakes made.
In a real way I’m glad I only spent a night in Vegas, and was on a schedule to get to Carson. I could be distracted easily by any number of things in Vegas.
And in the right circumstances, this sort of ‘fantasy irreality’ wouldn’t be a bad thing. The ability to step away from the mundane, to step out of our minds now and then, can be enjoyable and fun. Vegas, a manufactured synthetic city from the ground up, may not be the best way to do that.
That’s a very perceptive ‘feel’ you got there, I think, Jonathan. Quiet desperation hidden under all the clanging and flashing and ringing and winking and smoking and sparkling and bellowing and dear heavens make it stop!! I never enjoyed quiet so much as I did after Vegas. ;-j
I admit, my experience in Vegas was much more limited — we only stayed one or two nights, and only went to see the Star Trek Experience; the only woman entertainer we saw that was in anything racier than a TNG-era Starfleet uniform (and not even the skirted version!) was a woman costumed as a Klingon. Our brief walk along the Strip showed us little more than a fascinating look at the various hotels, casinos, and resorts; it was in the middle of the week, though, so perhaps the more risque displays were not done on that day.
But Vegas is a strange place. The entire history of the city is fascinating — it was intended from the start to be a resort/casino town, and there were immense hurdles to it being built. And yet it was built, and grew to be a major entertainment hub. Atlantic City on the East Coast only wishes it could be like Vegas.
An interesting side-point: While prostitution is legal in Nevada, it is up to each county to determine if it will make it legal. Most counties, and consolidated or incorporated municipalities, do not allow it within their lines. Carson City CM, Washoe County (Reno) and Clark County (Las Vegas) do not allow prostitution. I found this surprising for Las Vegas, but perhaps I am a touch cynical. Despite my brief visit to Vegas, and how fascinating the glitz and glamour and ostentatious decor and everything about it was, there was an undercurrent of desperation underneath it all, as if, should the city pause to catch its breath and reconsider what it’s doing, it would all of a sudden collapse and sink into the desert sands.