Pre Vegas Musings
It has now been the better part of 20 years since my first trip to Las Vegas and even after this span of time I still get giddy with excitement during the days leading up to the trip. It’s very hard to describe to non-Vegas regulars why I am so overcome with joy prior to my quad annual excursions. However, it really boils down to two basic tenets: historical memories and future expectations.
In regard to historical or episodic recollection, I can still remember with vivid clarity the first time I stepped foot in McCarran airport. The sights and sounds literally set the tone for what would be an amazing trip. From the mass movements of the people flowing in and out of the airport to the clanging of then coin operated slots, my senses were set to overdrive. It was surreal to say the least for this wayward traveler. As we cabbed toward the strip, I was already enamored with the monolithic structures that slowly and steadily enveloped my field of vision. At this point in time the Luxor was still being built out, and the Sands was nearing the end of its illustrious life span. I could sense the history of the town, even though I was barely familiar with its rich and storied past.
My first stay was at the Imperial Palace which honestly already seemed a little run down by this point, leading me to wonder if it was built to resemble a crap hole. With my room expectations challenged, I quickly moved to the casino floor readying myself for what was sure to be a wealth inducing experience. I moved from slot to slot winning fives and fives of dollars. I quickly began to think that I could just live in the casino being that it seemed next to impossible to lose. The nickel slots seemed to be the best of the best at the IP. When I hit my first 50 dollar mini jackpot, I go a little teary. With an outward verbal exclamation of “I love Las Vegas,” my fate was sealed. I had declared my love for the bright lights and big city. Recanting this tale of youth and exuberance gives me a chuckle (Considering how cheaply my love had been bought for.)
Even beyond the gambling aspect of Vegas, I was very attracted to observing people. I couldn’t help but notice the hypnotic effect that games of chance appeared to have on folks. I also quickly noticed a significant difference in appearance, affect and general presence between slot players and table game patrons. There was just something cooler about the individuals that were playing craps and blackjack. They almost appeared a bit more cosmopolitan. I stood for hours observing and listening to the then foreign dialect that poured from the gamblers mouths (Split em, double down, $25 on the horn, buy the 6 and 8). At that point in my life I could not even fathom making a bet of 25 dollars on a single roll or pull. That was reserved for rich people, idiots or perhaps a little of both. However, if I would have been willing to be honest with myself at that point, I really wanted to be one of those idiots.
Episodic Recollection Leads to Future Expectations
Whenever there is significant levels of emotionality tied to an event, recall tends to be higher and more vivid. Vegas is built and wired to create this type of experience and therefore neurologically predisposes individuals to recall those emotionally charged memories and return to their place of origin. Now it would be silly of me to deny bad beats, over indulgence and the inevitable fatigue that are all too familiar components of Vegas trips. However, those things take a back seat to the expectation for fun and excitement that is inherent in Vegas vacations. As a matter of fact, those seemingly negative experiences are easily woven into positives as Vegas veterans commiserate over them. I liken them to rites of passage that all experience and somehow emerge stronger for having endured them. After 30 plus trips to Las Vegas I am still Jubilant regarding the what ifs, as well as the agenda items that without a doubt trigger episodic recollections. From winning a $1000 on the Wheel of fortune, hitting $747 on Keno, breaking my first Limit Poker game to lounging in a pool and smoking my first cigar, these memories enhance my pre trip experience and keep me coming back. To all those like-minded Vegas visitors, enjoy the ride from beginning to end. It’s these experiences that make life truly worth living.