This past Labor Day I went to Las Vegas for a good friend's bachelor party. First off I should say that my friends and I are entirely too old to be engaging in this sort of "tradition". I mean we are just too old to be acting like hormonally challenged alcoholics, with our every perversion proudly on display. That said we soldiered on, and on, and on...
We stayed at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on the "Strip". A property that the majority of our contingent was strangely compelled to never exit. You would have thought the desert sands had been transformed into ocean water. Our shipwrecked crew of hapless, middle-aged manboys stranded on this remote island, at least it was in keeping with the hotel's theme.
Mandalay Bay is known for its enormous wave pool and the Moorea Beach Club, a 21 and over "European Style" beach experience. At $50 to enter Moorea Beach Club, the value is predicated on how "European" the female patrons are feeling. Our view from the 25th floor provided an aerial vantage of a "sausage fest" of the highest order. $50 dollars saved we opted to stick with good, old-fashioned, American-style sunbathing. The familiar repressed, Victorian ethos we had grown accustomed to would have to suffice.
While at the pool, I noticed the hegemonic trappings of a generation raised on the cultural exports of MTV's "The Real World". The pools were populated with tattooed twenty-something's, peacocking for imagined fans. Men with their chests jutting forward, the strain of looking cool taking its toll under the hot desert sun, patrolled the rim of the pools. Flat-billed baseball caps proudly displaying cities most probably live no closer than a hundred miles of, were pivoted on their heads by the slightest of degrees. It's easy to spot the guys from Long Island and New Jersey. Their skin is Halloween orange and their hair gelled up, forming an inverted mote designed to keep the "cool" from escaping.
Over sized, mirrored sunglasses, a la Paris Hilton, were the accessory du jour for both men and women at the pool. Another quick note, piercings and tattoos no longer signify otherness when everyone in attendance has them. The majority of the women prefer to opt for the "slut stamp" on the small of the back. Most display Chinese characters and tribal art, the significance of which will gradually fade as their their forties approach. Men seem to favor the nipple piercing; on most it draws attention to sagging pecs. Meanwhile, flashes of light reflected off tongue piercings, punctuating innuendo-laden conversations.
For all of Vegas' wild poolside reputation, I found the crowd subdued. Maybe most were sweating out the previous night's debauchery. Or, maybe, $12 Pina Coladas and $7 Budwiesers will work to mute even the most frivolous of vacationers. Whatever the reason, nary a chicken fight was witnessed. I felt sorry for those that paid $1,500 for a cabana rental. At least they should get some aquatic theatre for that price. I couldn't help but think that this was a far cry from the Vegas pool scenes of Entourage. I guess all the action is at the Hard Rock pool.
The attitude permeating the pool grounds was Entourage worthy however. Even the homeliest of ladies, squeezed into ill-fitting swimwear, had attitude. When did our culture propagate the notion that everyone is a "star"? And as self-fashioned celebrities, staring vacantly through whomever cross their line of vision, they further delude themselves. I know this sounds like bitterness and perhaps it is. I'm bitter that being bitchy is celebrated and engaging one another is an infringement on one's cool. I watched whole groups engaged in the ultimate community building exercise, texting! It sends the message that wherever you're at and whoever you're with just isn't cutting it. There is a better party out there, with way cooler people. What happened to, "It's Vegas Baby!" I guess it's not this part of Vegas or these "Babies"...