My St Pat’s
Adventure in Vegas
by Tally Briggs
My best friend’s birthday is St Patrick’s Day.
This year it was a BIG birthday (really BIG), so she wanted
to do something REALLY SPECIAL for her BIG DAY.
The first idea was a cruise, a GalzCruz™ to the
Mexican Riviera, but one of TheGalz™ could not
make it that week, so she decided on Vegas instead.
At first I was opposed to this, not because I
don’t LOVE VEGAS (because as most of you know, I do…),
but because we always go to Vegas. And for a
BIG BIRTHDAY such as this, I didn’t feel Vegas was
big ENOUGH. I go to Vegas every year for my birthday
(this year will be no different), and when my
BIG BIRTHDAY rolls around in a few years, I want
to be somewhere spectacular, like cruising from
LA to Sydney on some fabulous cruise ship in
a suite or on a wine tour with my friends in Adelaide Australia….
In other words, something BIG that I’ve never
done before. Well, this wasn’t my day, so it wasn’t my decision.
The group going consisted of myself, BirthdayGal,
her Hubby, and an old GalPal from Houston. BirthdayGal
& Hubby flew in from Denver, I jumped a Southwest
flight from Burbank and we all met at McCarran at
4pm Wednesday March 15th.
The day does not start off well for the BG.
She and Hubby had made reservations on United several
weeks earlier, yet they were told that seat assignments
were not available and would be given to them at
the airport. BG asked if the flight was overbooked,
and was told, “no, not at all, and don’t worry, there will
be no problem getting seats.” Well, BG has flown
enough she knows this was a blatant lie, so they arrive
extra earlier to get the “no problem” seat assignments
only to be told they could pay more to bump up to
Business class where the only open seats are.
This does not fly well with BG, and after much discussion
with an uber-rude gate agent she and Hubby are
given seats in Coach but at opposite ends of the cabin.
Thankfully, I have no such problems at Burbank
with Southwest. I have been smart enough to print my
boarding pass the day before, and when I arrive
at the gate I sit my ass down on the floor next to the door
as the first person under A and opened my Vanity
Fair. When it comes time to board I notice I am virtually
the only female on the aircraft. At this point
I make no connection as to why. Even having a nice conversation
with the guy next to me with his NCAA bracket
sheet, it STILL does not dawn on me what we are going
to be up against this trip.
After landing, the universe still thwarts the
BG. We all meet at the MGM ticket office in Baggage Claim.
BG is set to pick up tickets for tonight for
Tom Jones. [Yes, THE Tom Jones - excuse me, SIR Tom Jones
- who she had seen three-times before, and I
turned out to be the only one who said, “Sure, I’ll go with you!”]
Unfortunately, since she had gone thru her slot-host
at The Paris for the seats she is informed she must
pick them up at the actual venue box office.
To add insult to injury, since Caesars etc. has been recently
acquired by Harrah’s, we can’t check in at the
airport check-in desk either because they are uploading
new Harrah’s software….
I normally fly in to town earlier in the morning,
or late at night, and getting a cab is not that big of a deal.
However, 4pm on a Wednesday in the middle of
March the wait for a taxi is FORTY-FIVE MINUTES.
(I’m still not cluing in.) Instead we opt to
go find a towncar and for $40 including tip we are at The Paris
and checked in by 4:30pm.
We change clothes and head downstairs to get a
cocktail and play a little video poker at Gustav’s bar
where we meet sweet bartender Tony who is from
Houston. He comps our drinks and since it’s the end
of his shift tells us to come over to the Sports
Bar the next few days where he will be working and he’ll
hook BG up with a B-day martini.
7:15 we head outside to grab a cab to MGM.
We get to the cabstand and there is an ENDLESS
LINE – all men. (Still not getting it.) Hubby goes to
call MGM to tell them we’re on our way to pick
up the tickets that must be picked up by 7:30 (because
he’s amazing) and begs them to not give them
away. We finally make it into a cab, get to MGM’s Showroom
and pick up our tickets at the last possible
minute. We head to the Rainforest CafÈ, where there is a 40min
wait for a table. We grab two open seats at the
bar since there was no wait, and order what were perhaps
the two worst appetizers in culinary history.
The Rainforest Pita Quesadilla, which was all pita and very
little queso, and the Chimi-Cha-Cha, which was
dry and tasteless – a nice salsa instead of pico might
have saved these dishes, but that will remain
a mystery since I never intend on eating at one of these
establishments ever again. If I do, at least
I’ll know what not to order.
We head into the Showroom at 8:15, and sit next
to Kevin, a guy who is in Vegas with a bunch
of his college friends for March Madness™ but
left them to come see Tom by himself.
It finally hits me.
MARCH MADNESS! OOOHH NOOOOOO! DAMNIT!
I thought our biggest problem would be St Patty’s
day, being that it was VEGAS and a FRIDAY…
Let me explain why this was important: BG could
not decide on where she wanted to have her
BIG BIRTHDAY DINNER, so we had reservations all
over town. There was Michael’s at
Barbary Coast (which along with Dre’s are the
only reasons that hotel is still standing.)
Charlie Palmer’s at Four Seasons, Delmonico’s
at Venetian, and The Eiffel Tower restaurant
at The Paris. There was also a plan to do a “Pub-Crawl”
style grazing dining experience, in that
we’d start at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill at Caesars
for appetizers, then move to The Palm at the
Forum Shops for Lobster Bisque, then either to
Olives at Bellagio or down the strip to Smith &
Wollensky’s for the main entrÈe, followed
by dessert at The Eiffel Tower. We had cancelled
Michael’s about three days before we came to
town when I found out they charged $149 for
“steak of two” al a carte. I figured if that
price did not include oral sex with your steak then
no one needed to pay that kind of money even
for a top restaurant in Vegas. We also had
breakfast reservations for Friday at Tableau
at The Wynn. (Yes, Vegas is about eating!!!)
BG and Kevin have a great time as they are HUGE
Tom Fans, while I wanted to kill the
lighting designer. Almost every single moment
of the show they had bright Vari-Lites sweeping
the audience. Within five minutes I had donned
my sunglasses, and was holding the beverage
menu in front of my face to save my retinas from
being scorched. I’m not sure what the point
of this was. Everyone knows Tom Jones is 65.
He looks fabulous. If they were doing it to blind
the audience and hide his age, then he should
be playing a bigger venue and be father away from
the crowd. He’s adorable, and everyone loves
him because he’s TOM FREAKING JONES,
I mean Sir Tom Freakin Jones. He puts on a great
show. What’s New Pussycat and Kiss made
the entire evening, and I would not have believed
it had I not seen it with my own eyes,
PANTIES WERE THROWN ON STAGE! But I still want
to string up the lighting designer
and make him stare at the sun.
Afterwards we headed back to the Paris, Kevin
in tow, and played until the wee hours.
I guess we turned out more fun than his Basketball
Late Thursday morning Hubby brings Houston &
I coffee (did I mention he’s amazing?) and then
we head down to the casino. We try to find a
bar to sit at, play video poker so we can have some
free cocktails and not wait for the odd cocktail
server to wander by, but every single bar/lounge is
packed with guys in packs, smoking cigars and
staring at basketball on every available monitor.
We finally find two empty spots at Le Cabaret
bar. There is another empty seat by two guys watching
basketball. The plan is to get this extra seat
and wait for one of the other dudes at the bar to move,
then the Galz can be together as Hubby is happily
playing slots off by himself. I lean over and ask
Dude #1 if I can steal the empty chair. He smiles
and responds, “You baby, can steal anything!”
I smile, tell him he made my day, give him a hug,
and start to move the chair. Cranky bartender
tells me I can’t move the chair because it will
block an aisle. At first I think he’s joking. Then I blink
at him in disbelief and try to imagine where
this aisle he has alluded to might possibly be or if it does
indeed exist since this lounge is wall-to-wall
ManPacks™ watching March Madness. Houston goes
to the other side of the bar where there is one
available seat and BG and I sit in the two open seats.
Dude #1 asks where I’m from, and he offers to
buy us both drinks (that we’re getting for free since
we’re playing.) Dude #2, who turns out to be
his brother, tells BG he can “make her birthday a
very memorable one” as Dude #1 is giving me his
phone number. “I’d really like to buy the
Birthday Girl a drink and hang with you all tonight!
I have my Blackberry with me so please call.”
We smile politely then finish our drinks and
decide to move away from the Testosterone Pool.
BG remarks that she hasn’t had a “drive-by” proposition
in a while. We howl.
12:30pm we all meet and have lunch at Mon Ami
Gabi, one of our favorite restaurants in town.
My dear friend Mark, who moved a year ago to
Vegas to star in Forever Plaid at The Gold Coast
joins us, and has gotten us free tickets to his
show that night. We start with a bottle of Letour Chardonnay
and the amazing Baked Cheese & Tomato with
Garlic Toast appetizer. Mmmmm! I try to keep it
light and order the Endive & Pear Salad,
BG has the French Macaroni & Cheese, while Mark
orders the Onion Soup Burger. Hubby & Houston
each have the Chicken & Brie Sandwich.
Of course I have a taste of everything on the
table. The Mac & Cheese is amazing since it has
French ham chunks in it, and the Onion Soup Burger
is astounding. We finish with Flourless
Chocolate Cake. So much for keeping it light.
We then all proceed to fall into afternoon food-comas.
We dress and head to the I-can’t-believe-this-hotel-is-still-standing
Gold Coast around 7pm for
Forever Plaid. We all pile in a van-cab
and were magically transported across the strip, up some
back street by The Palms construction, down Flamingo,
and onto the Gold Coast property in less
than two minutes, apparently running three red
lights and going in the out driveway all without
experiencing any bodily injury.
Forever Plaid is a great show! We all laugh our
assess off. Afterwards Mark is starving so I go
with him to get food while BG & Co head back
to Paris/Bally’s to play so BG can keep her
casino rating up since she is getting her room
comped and working on comping ours. Mark and I
end up also going back to Paris since he has
some friends who work at a lovely restaurant there
that I never knew existed (since I always seem
to gravitate to Mon Ami) called La ProvenÁal.
Great menu! A little pricey but not terribly,
and the servers sing. Kick-ASS sing.
Floor traffic out in the casino/shopping area
comes to a standstill when these people sing.
Mark has a small salad, I have some lobster bisque
and we split some four-cheese gnocchi.
I head to bed about 1am. Houston, my roommate
comes in from the Black Jack tables at 2:30am.
She, BG, and Hubby grabbed a late supper at CafÈ
Ille St Louis at 1am. Needless to say we bail on
breakfast at Wynn which is a shame since BG has
yet to see it. (Maybe we’ll all make it there for my b-day.)
At last it’s THE BIG BIRTHDAY. Hubby again delivers
java, and BG has decided that if we do the
Restaurant Crawl for dinner we’ll be stuffed
after soup, so she decides on just Olives at Bellagio for
dinner to avoid getting in a cab. I call this
a smart move. I spend 30 minutes calling and canceling reservations.
We hit the casino by 11am and head to the Sports
Book to find bartender Tony to make BG her martini.
However, we find it packed wall to wall with
the Man Packs in a sea of smoke. We wave at Tony and
run away to find some oxygen.
[Observation: The last several years the smoke
in Vegas has not bothered me very much.
The newer casinos all have very high ceilings
with great circulation, and fewer and fewer people
are smoking these days…. This time it was HORRID.
I finally got sick of drowning my eyes in
Opcon-A every 20 minutes and kept my sunglasses
2pm we head back to Mon Ami since our dinner reservations
are not until 8:15pm. Again we begin
with the Cheese & Tomato thing and a bottle
of Chardonnay. Dinner is 6 hours away so I proceed to
have brain damage and ask if they can make me
a roast beef & brie sandwich (a little treat TheGalz™
indulged in almost on a daily basis on our last
GlazCruz™ to Mexico. Mooooooooooo!
Way too much food. Another great lunch, another
We meet and play some more around 6pm. I have
to run back to the room for a sweater and I run
into Dude #1. “Baby! When are you going to call
me?! I really want to party with you tonight!”
I smile and make the excuse it’s up to the BG.
He tells me it will be worth my while as I walk away.
I should have just asked if he was into soccer,
that would have been the end of it.
7:45pm we pry ourselves from the casino take a
walk to Bellagio for the BIG BIRTHDAY DINNER.
As we cross the street we notice that The Strip
Whaaaaaaaa? It’s Friday night.
St. Patrick’s Day. No traffic. Why?
Because EVERYONE IS WATCHING NCAA BASKETBALL.
We arrive at Olives and are seated immediately.
Our waiter Chris is great. Everyone is still rather full
from lunch that seems like only an hour earlier
because of the nap. BG orders a Caesar Salad and
Carpaccio trying to keep it light. Houston orders
an amazing but rich Goat Cheese Ravioli, and
Hubby & I order a Braised Short Rib Pappardelle
with sweet & sour turnips that is Heavenly!
All with a nice bottle of Pinot.
BG doesn’t finish her Caesar so I help (of course.)
Then her Carpaccio arrives and suddenly she
looks as though she might cry. The plate is covered
edge-to-edge with beef and looks as though it
could feed the cast of MystËre. We all help
After dinner we waddle back across to The Paris
and head up to The Eiffel Tower restaurant to
have a drink and some dessert in the lounge.
Let me just say what a breathtakingly beautiful place!
The lighting is low and sexy. It seems every
table in the place has an amazing view of The Strip.
They’re playing Frank, thus I’m in Heaven.
There are a group of people at the main bar singing
in some beautiful foreign language, so I get up
and ask them to sing to the BG, they do and adopt
us as family. They’re from Detroit and we never
figure out what language they were singing in.
My guess is Greek or Armenian. What a great group
of people! The Raspberry Napoleon arrives and
BG has her name and Birthday wishes spelled out
in chocolate around the plate – gorgeous presentation!
I decide I’ll attempt to talk Tommy into
bringing me here for a romantic dinner next trip.
We finally stop eating and hit the casino. I reach
my limit for supporting the fine community of
Clark County Nevada and decide to head upstairs
around 1am. I stop at Gustav’s bar to get a
mug of hot water to make a cup of tea before
bed. On my way with my mug-o-agua I hear,
“Hey cutie, want a ride?”
I turn and see a sweet looking cute man with his
entire right leg in a cast heading towards me
on an electric scooter/wheelchair thingie. I
think what the hell, and say, “Sure! Take me to the
elevators please!” After surviving a sharp turn
where we both almost ended up on the floor,
he obliges and off we jet towards the elevators
with me on this guys lap who is shouting,
“make way! Hot water!” I disembark at the elevators
as he begs me to keep him company.
I tell him my man is waiting upstairs and beg
off. I am in my room no more than three minutes
when the phone rings. Hubby is on the phone asking
me how I liked my ride thru the casino,
what was I doing torturing that poor handicapped
man, and would I like to come have
birthday cake and cookies in their awesome corner
view room. I howl and head over.
BG’s casino host had sent up a lovely tiramisu
birthday cake and a signature Paris ceramic
balloon cookie jar filled with fancy cookies
for BG’s birthday. I snacked and Hubby & I
told BG all about the insane man on the scooter.
I head back to my room around 2am.
Houston makes it up finally around 5am after a
lucrative night at the black jack tables.
The next morning I am a bit katznjammer. We pack,
since our check out is 1pm when we are
all heading en masse back to McCarran. I head
down to the business centre and print my
boarding pass miraculously getting group A. We
all end up again at, surprise, Mon Ami for lunch.
Mark and a friend of his meet us there. We have
a great conversation since all of us worked
at Disneyland. Mark’s friend still does so she
updates us on all the latest horrors.
Lunch gives me some life, but by the time I get
to the airport I am ready for a nap.
We all say our good-byes as we’re dropped off
at our various airlines. I get to my gate,
and plant myself again somehow as the first person
in A for my flight (most likely because
I’m there two hours early.)
The flight is packed so I head back to the last
row since they exit from both the forward and aft
doors in Burbank. There is a storm front heading
in over the Pacific so the captain warns us of some chop.
There is in fact, so much chop they order everyone
to remain in their seats the entire 50min flight and
forgo any beverage service. Funny, I’ve had worse
turbulence with beverage service.
Normally I end up arriving at every airport on
my BUR/LAS trips so early that my bag usually
ends up on the flight before mine and is waiting
in baggage claim for me. This trip when I arrive
at both airports even earlier than normal, my
bag goes on both of my flights so I must wait. Wacky.
Tommy picks me up in the rain, get me home, plants
me in front of our fireplace wrapped in a
warm blanket cuddled by two kittens and feeds
me yummy Thai food. I am beat. I need a vacation.
Great times with old friends. It’s great to be
and I’m already planning my Vegas birthday trip!