The genesis of this trip is simultaneously wholesome… and as degenerate as usual.
It all started with an offer for two comp nights at the Cosmopolitan, as well as a free companion room, that expired at the end of April 2021. (Loyal readers will know this stems from the generosity of my friend Costas, who springs for a fountain view terrace for my birthday and lets me put the points on my card).
Naturally, being the degenerate I am, I’ve got the itch to go to Vegas, but also the wherewithal to know we’re still in the midst of a pandemic and that I *probably* shouldn’t go. So I call my mom — who in addition to being my voice of reason, is also a nurse — to talk me down from the Vegas ledge.
And let’s just say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. After explaining the situation, my mom goes “Well, you wear a mask and are safe. And you live alone and work from home, so it’s low risk. I say you go.” As my mind begins to swim with the possibilities of my first Vegas trip since attending the reopening in June, she delivers coup de grace to any semblance of pandemic responsibility with the magic words “if you can’t find anyone to go with you, my birthday is in April and I’d go [since I’m fully vaccinated since January].”
The planning begins in earnest, and I call the Cosmo to reserve two nights for the last weekend in April, but it’s already booked. Fortunately, I’m able to get two weeks earlier, on a weekend when my mom is off work. I book April 10-11, 2021. Being the cheapskate I am, I scoff at the $50 a night upgrade charge for a fountain view, and decide to roll the dice… I mean, “what kind of sucker would pay for a room when it’s fully comped *including resort fees*?” I wonder to myself.
Turns out, a sucker like me. As the date approaches, I get filled with a sense of anxiety that the good views will be taken, so I call to inquire about updates. Much to my dismay, the fountain views are sold out. I just about shit myself as the associate offers me a $700 per night upgrade that would be twice my bankroll. So when she offers a Fountain View Terrace Studio with a Japanese Soaking tub for the comparatively modest upgrade price of $95 per night, I’m in. I grit my teeth and book it for my mom. The associate soothes my wounded cheapskate pride by telling me there were only a few of these left, and after that all rooms with a fountain view would be sold out.
My mom flies into COS the night before our trip, and I pick her up after work (after frantically cleaning my house to pretend I don’t live in squalor). We order a Hawaiian pizza and some wings, and relax with a few beers and some Barry Manilow before our big day.
As we’re waiting at the Colorado Springs Airport bar, I recognize a Colorado College logo on a sweater. As I’m staring, my old coworker Ryan comes over and says “I already know where you’re going.” And he was absolutely right. VEGAS BABY!
My mom orders us a round of beers after a brief 4.5 seconds of pretending she won’t drink until she’s in Vegas, opting for her customary Heineken. I text my group chat a picture of her sipping her beer, to which they rightfully respond “what a legend.”
This sparks something in my mom, who proceeds to raise the bar by slamming 1/3 of her beer before responding “give me some respect.”
I mix my double Makers and Coke in the bathroom, and we board the flight. I hand the greeting flight attendants my customary bag of chocolates. Luckily we secure a row to ourselves and split some music on my AirPods, until the flight attendants come to thank us for the card. One of them gives my mom a vomit bag containing two luggage tags, some fake pilot badges, and commemorative certificate to “one bad ass Momma” (which I had secretly slipped into a card that accompanied the chocolates). This gift makes her day, and her joy makes mine; we’re already winning before even landing.
Between the drink service (limited to Coke, Diet Coke, 7 Up, and Water), the surprise of the gift bag, some Miranda Lambert, the requisite playing of Dierks Bentley’s “Drunk on a Plane,” and good conversation, the flight… flies by.
Before we know it, we’re at McCarran and in Liquor Library. Their prices are still dirt cheap by airport standards, so I buy the first round of Heinekens as we wait for baggage claim. The luggage comes quickly, but the rideshare does not.
With nothing available on the apps, my mom opts for a cab. This turns out to be a great deal, as the line moves so quickly she has to showcase her chugging ability again before the cabbie advises us to unceremoniously leave our empties on the curb.
We head to the Cosmo with a fixed zone rate, and the familiar rush of excitement sets in as the Strip comes into view.
We get to the cab stand, and my mom is already blown away by the shimmering COSMOPOLITAN letters glistening in the parking garage. This is going to be fun.
Being 3:30pm, the lines are pretty long. So I do what any self-respecting degenerate would do, and flash my Gold Identity card and ask if there is an express line. My mom’s jaw drops as the hordes of people part for me and bow down as I flex and immediately cut to next in line. Okay fine, not quite, but as a low-roller, let me tell you that there is no more powerful feeling than getting to jump lines from unearned status.
The associate wishes my mom a happy birthday. My mom is still clueless that she’s got an upgrade until the associate blows my cover by asking me how I’ll pay for the upgrade. She doesn’t have time to protest before I whip out my Chase Sapphire Preferred and sign off. Giving my mom a memorable birthday is justification enough, but I further rationalize the upgrade as less than the cost of the resort fees if I were paying them.
We get our keys and head up to the room, and let me tell you: the upgrade was worth it.
I head down to my room (in the same tower) and am immediately relieved I sprang for the upgrade; as fun as a balcony is, it’s just not as magic when it’s overlooking City Center.
After settling in, and checking out our underwhelming COVID amenity kits (I was hoping for a branded mask), we decide to head downstairs. We make our way to the elevator, where my mom sees it fit to express her disbelief and joy with an expression we call the “dead cow.”
We stop by Chandelier bar for some quick and expensive “free” drinks on our way to the Jockey Club mini mart to stock the
fridge sink with some cheap Heineken.
I send my mom back to her room for dusk as I walk to the omnipresent CVS to pick up some Heineken, Pringles, and a bottle of André/OJ for mimosas tomorrow.
I return with the goods, make a sink cooler in the second bathroom (you can put the degen in a fancy room, but you can’t comp him class).
We drink some beers and our to-go Whiskey Businesses from the Chandelier bar as the sun sets and the lights come on, while listening to Taylor’s version of Fearless on a bluetooth speaker.
Life is fucking amazing.
We head down to Momofuku, which may be the highlight of the whole trip for me.
We check in at the host stand, and they bring us back. And, like an outfielder chasing an inevitable homerun, back back back. Further into the depths of Momofuku than I’ve ever been. Until seating us at this table, in the far corner of the restaurant.
My mom and I are stunned by the view, and in disbelief. A server asks us if we drink alcohol, and we respond yes, already buzzing on the neon glow of the Strip. He comes back a few minutes later with two glasses of complimentary champagne, and wishes my mom a happy birthday.
My mom looks at me surprised, and I look at him surprised; neither of us were expecting this, and it made the night. We toast to my amazing mom with a beautiful backdrop and a beautiful memory.
We order the signature duck three ways (a #SergiosAnnualDestinationBirthdayPartyInLasVegas institution) and a round of cocktails. “Should we get an appetizer?” my mom innocently asks, not knowing what is coming.
With all our our drinking, we’re hungry and anxiously awaiting our meal. Finally, my mom takes one for the team and goes pee to summon our meal; lo and behold, as soon as she’s out of sight, the server comes with a platter. I explain the situation and she says “I was never here” only to magically (re)emerge when my mom is back.
Sadly, the duck is not carved table side (ducking COVID!), but my mom doesn’t know any better. And it’s still absolutely delicious.
We devour the duck in every way, and take home the little that’s left in a to go box (which is unceremoniously handed to us to pack ourselves thanks to public enemy #1 COVID).
My mom and I are both low-key kleptos, so I inexplicably steal a napkin and the glass from my Yuzu sour in the doggie bag.
I have a nightcap with my mom on the balcony as we watch a fountain show. She’s tired and going into a food coma, so she sends me down to the casino so she can go to bed.
Late Night Degeneracy
After being deprived of Vegas so long, I am EAGER. And I am stupid (which will come as no surprise to longtime readers). So of course my degenerate ass uncharacteristically decides to raise the stakes to Double Double Bonus. And as any VP degen knows, once you commit to DDB, you can’t drop back down for the trip. Thus, I seal my gambling fate for the trip my first night.
I immediately belly up to Chandelier Bar, where I park myself for at least an hour. I’m pretty buzzed at this point and worried about a champagne hangover, so I slow my roll and switch over to water (say what you will about my responsibility, but hydration is the one area where I’m not a total fucking idiot). I accumulate 5 drink tickets, which I end up cashing out for a roadie Verbena (which I will hair of the dog with tomorrow) and a pour of Johnnie Walker Blue.
The gambling is a degenerate blur, and I think I’m close to even on the day a few times thanks to some hands I drunkenly post on Twitter. But sadly no kickers (and no Aces to dream of).
With $100 left, I decide to slot it up. But I don’t make it far. The MMMMMMMoOOoOOOOoOOOO of Planet Moolah entices me like a siren call. I proceed to feed that damn machine every $20 in my wallet. I mercifully hit a decent bonus spin, where much to the delight of me and the friendly asian lady next to me — I discover that you can in fact get a giant wild symbol in Attack of the Giant Symbols.
I end up cashing $200, so I’m only down $100 for the day.
I drunkenly retire to my room at 5am, chug a water, text my mom I’ll meet her at noon, place my Verbena next to my water, and pass out.
I may be down $100 on the day, but I’m in Vegas celebrating my amazing mom; I’ve already hit the only jackpot that counts.