This is the wall outside the top-flight restaurants at Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.
Yes, those are disembodied breasts, butts and torsos. (And, I just now realized, all the breasts look like implants rather than organic hooters.) I can think of no better representation of Las Vegas.
J and I flew into town last weekend for his dad's wedding, which was held at the Mandalay Bay wedding chapel. (Yes, they have one. Even the Excalibur, God help us all, has a wedding chapel.) I had never been to Vegas before, and J hadn't been in years, since before the megaresorts started popping up on the Strip.
1. Vegas is BIG. Well, the town itself is small-to-middlin', but the resorts on the Strip are freaking huge. Mandalay Bay by itself seems like its own little nation, and probably has an economy to match.
2. Vegas isn't what you think Vegas is, geographically speaking. I bought The Last Honest Place in America, a fascinating historical and cultural memoir of Las Vegas, while we were there, and I learned a lot about the place. For instance, the casino portion of the Strip isn't located inside Las Vegas. Back when Bugsy Seigel and his ilk were building the first casinos, they asked the city of Las Vegas to run water and sewer lines out to the casinos. The city didn't seem to think it would be worth the bother. So the casinos on the Strip aren't actually in Las Vegas; they're in Clark County.
3. Vegas has some great people-watching. At dinner last Friday night, J and I were riveted by a couple at the next table. Based on their body language (he talked nonstop and drank from her iced tea glass without asking; she looked bored but accommodating), we were pretty sure we were watching what one party considered a "date" and the other considered a "job." But then J's dad said he had seen the couple checking in earlier in the day. So either it was an extended weekend date/job or we watched a pretty vile relationship dynamic in action. If you're the woman in that scenario and you're reading this, please leave the dude. He's just gonna get worse. And quit tanning, dear, it just makes you look carcinogenic.
4. I really, really like nickel video poker. And once I figure out how to beat the machines, we're going back, and I'm playing for quarters.