a big, dulling breakfast. (I had the pizza omelette after wading through the frankly alarming selection available)
|Did you know there could be many different types of omelette? I didn't.|
'Hey, we should go to Vegas!'
'Oh yeah? How long is the drive?' I asked, merely out of politeness, playing with the cute white puppy belonging to one of the flatmates. Really, I'd had no intention of leaving the couch I was currently on after that big breakfast. Ever. Until someone offered a padded wheelbarrow or something.
'About four or five hours' drive from here.'
'Is it anything at all like Venice Beach?' I asked slowly, remembering the fun afternoon from days ago when, in spite of being several thousand miles away, I'd felt as though I'd walked into another version of my London neighbourhood - Camden Town - right into the arty, quirky and characterful Venice in Los Angeles.
Charles looked at me; saw I was moments away from bursting into laughter at the memory; probably remembered at the same time as I did, the colourful people we'd interacted with:
- The man who had tried to sell me marijuana as we walked along the promenade full of vendors, artists, performers and fortune-tellers, and whom, upon my refusal to patronise 'the good stuff', had screeched aggressively, 'Why don't you want it?! Hey, if God made it, it must be good, right?' The same man whom I'd have stubbornly stood by the beachfront and argued with, had Charles not ushered me away, probably noticing the dangerous tick in his eye.
- The older black man who had given me an unblinking appraising look.
'I like your haircut,' he'd said at length. 'It suits you. Got the cheekbones for it.'
I beamed. 'Thank y -' I started to say.
'But you should keep it natural,' he'd cut in, wagging his finger sternly.
'Oh. Er...yes sir!' Mock salute.
- Then the basketball player who'd yelled as we walked further down the promenade, 'Hey, you! You! I know you!'
I'd turned, nonplussed by the insistent tone of his voice. 'No, you don't!' I challenged.
He didn't miss a beat. Smiled broadly, in fact, as he said, 'I know. But I should, right?' Cue rakish tilt of his head.
His name was Ramith.
Venice Beach. With its vibrant scenes of art, culture and the bizarre - a combination of things that had made that afternoon my favourite outing thus far in California.
|'It's literally hanging three feet off the ground.'|
I opened my mouth to speak. But Sam beat me to it.
'F**k it, we're going to Vegas!' He hooted gleefully.
Ah well. My expression must have given it all away, anyway.
|Stretching my legs after a loo break somewhere on the drive to Nevada|
Walking through the luxurious lobby of The Aria Resort and Casino, finely turned out as we were, a blonde, well-suited man approached us.
'Leave this to me, boys.' I murmured under my breath, not exactly sure what I myself meant by this - except, fuelled by the incredulity of the series of events that had caused us to drive four or so hours from San Diego to Las Vegas, as opposed to two odd hours in the opposite direction back to Los Angeles, I was brazen in my attempt to get us into a posh joint. Without paying, of course. Entertaining the right amount of delusion is always healthy, I often say.
'Hey,' he said, flashing a practiced smile. 'Were you guys looking to go to the Gold Lounge?'
He hesitated. 'It's ok, Slender Beauty,' he said, charming smile back on. 'I'm taking care of these guys tonight.'
An imperceptible nod - and then the velvety ropes were being loosened, and we found ourselves in the plush lounge. Oh, Luke!
|The other Eiffel Tower|
|The enchanting floral glass ceiling by Dale Chihuly at the Bellagio Hotel|
A whirlwind night and day in the city that never sleeps, and before long, we were bundling back in the car for the return drive to Los Angeles, with me entertaining vivid fantasies of a cold pool opening up in the earth for my exclusive use. So hot I could feel my insides frying!
Pulling up in the driveway back home, we sat still in the car for a moment.
'I can't believe we just drove to Vegas and back,' Sam said, a dazed smile on his face. 'Man, how fast did the time go?!'
'I know,' I nodded sagely, then said in my most solemn voice, 'That's the thing with time...'
'What about it?'
'It flies when you're with me.'
Cheeky, much? But then again, so had the entire trip.
|Everything within reason, of course|
* This post is dedicated to the Australians with my sincerest apologies.