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June 15, 2005

The Fellowship of the Bling

"What happens in Vegas..." - blow me. I changed everyone's names here to protect the not so innocent and only a few of my closer friends reading this blog know who i'm talking about. Its kind of an important story because this event was an enormous change for me.

"You HAVE to come to Vegas!", purred Kim, "It's my 30th birthday this October!"061605.jpg

Kim was a best-friend-forever (BFF). I met her a year and a half ago at the Black Bear, the day after the Hoboken St. Patricks Day Parade.

As soon as I saw her, I wanted to date her. But, a friend of hers started to chat me up at the bar. Eventually I got to know both of them and got to know Kim's dynamic, spirited personality. She was cool and fun. She said to me that day, "You are my new best friend."

It was true. We were like peanut butter and jelly for the next year and a half. At first, I was hoping it would be like an 80's John Cusack movie: guy-who-has-a-crush-on-the-hot girl-eventually-gets-the-hot-girl-after-she-gets-to-know-him-better-as-a-friend.

Unfortunately for me, she really did want to be friends. Over time, my crush dimmed and I eventually just enjoyed her friendship. It was a casual thing, like many friendships are in Hoboken. The majority of our time was spent in a bar or party getting drunk together. We would call and chat on the phone a bit. When I bartended she would visit me sometimes and when she bartended I would help her open the bar.

Before Vegas, everything was fine. After Vegas, everything changed.

"Vegas? Sounds good! When are we going? Where are we staying?", I asked.

"I have a bunch of friends and family flying in - its going to be a blast. We are getting there Wednesday night and leaving Sunday! Staying at The Golden Nugget, we have a block of rooms!", she chirped happily.

The Golden Nugget? Who stays at Old Vegas except for people who watch Matlock or Murder She Wrote?

"Hey, is it cool if I got a place at Mandalay Bay or Hard Rock? It's only a cab ride away - and i'm sure the majority of our trip will be in New Vegas.", I asked.

Her tone changed to very annoyed, "Furey! I got everyone staying at The Golden Nugget in the same area! Come on, its my birthday!"

Eventually I relented, keeping in mind that it was her birthday and this trip was about celebrating her birthday. It would become the first of many irritations from this trip.

After everything was finalized for the accomodations, Kim wanted us, and two of her friends, to all take the same plane to Vegas. I suggested we share a taxi, which would cost $40 (or $10 each) to Newark Airport.

"No, no. We are going to drive there and put the car in long term parking! We will save $12 that way!"

$12?? Give me a break. I told her I thought we would save time with a taxi, and it would be much more convienent. She argued that she would like her own car to drive back to Hoboken when she got back from the trip and not have to pay or worry about a cab. She was really put out by the idea that we wouldn't agree to the long term parking. Once again, I went along with it.

The day arrives and Kim is telling me about everyone who are showing up on the trip.

"Oh yea. I have a friend of mine coming named Tiffany.", she says flatly.

"Tiffany? Oh, that hot bartender you know! Excellent!", I said.

"Yea, don't want you two hooking up. Stay away from her.", she said.

"What? Why?", I said.

"You can't. It's my birthday trip and I...just DON'T. I want this trip to be about us as friends having fun - I don't want anyone hooking up together. Plus she is dating someone.", she snapped.

This was a first. It wasn't a jealousy thing from her exactly, it was like a "I don't want anyone to take anything away from my trip" kind of attitude. She was very much letting on very early that the trip was all about her.

"Fine, I won't do anything with Tiffany.", I lied.

Big time lie. Rule #1 is you never tell a guy what they can or can't do - I knew that Tiffany was hot, I found out earlier that she was "dating" someone. What cute girls in Hoboken AREN'T "dating" someone - they don't stay single very long. I knew that we were going to be in Vegas - Sin City. You don't get a trifecta like this very often.

We get in her car and meet up with Anna and Laura, her two friends who also bartended in Hoboken. Laura worked at a midtown bar in Hoboken and has known Kim for a very long time - they were extremely good friends.

Anna was new to Kim's group of friends. She was a recent resident from PA and didn't know too many people in Hoboken, so she became another one of Kim's BFF's.

We get in the car and had an interesting (read: stressful) ride to the airport which involved:

1) Kim's strong desire to make sure we get liquor for the flight - we each proceed to buy a flask of our favorite booze for the carry on (Hello, this is your Captain speaking. Captain Morgan.). This started to delay our trip to the airport.

2) Kim realizing on the way to the airport she is nearly out of gas. She drives 45 miles an hour on the highway to conserve gas. The needle was on "E". Must. Stay. Calm. Anger. Level. Rising.

3) We get to the long term parking lot which is a 15 minute bus ride to the terminal. We have about 35 minutes until departure and the stress level is rising. Keep sharp objects away.

And we are on the flight!

Whew.

It becomes immediately apparent that Kim isn't a frequent flier. She is loud, boisterous, and talks a guy sitting behind her into switching seats with me, so I can sit behind her, Laura and Anna. Everyone breaks out the flasks and we are asking for Cokes with a cup and ice as soon as we can get them.

I got a fairly good buzz and I finished my flask about 2 hours into the flight. We land and Kim tells me at the Vegas airport:

"By the way, I didn't book a hotel room tonight."

"What?", I had my own room booked at The Golden Nugget that night. For the trip I wasn't planning on sharing my room with anyone - its not like I was 22 anymore and had to cut corners and save money on trips.

"We are going to stay out all night long tonight, we will gamble and drink. Then - we will check in at 11am. We will save $150 bucks."

"Yea, sounds good, i'm in.", I lied again. I was interested in partying, but this nickel and diming attitude of hers was lame.

We meet Tiffany at the Vegas airport and boy is she a cutie. Long blonde hair, beautiful brown eyes and a great smile. I do what I always do when I meet a hot girl - I clam up.

If I with a girl that i'm not interested in - i'm fairly good at joking around and being playful. When I meet someone I like - i'm too self conscious and quiet.

But I was friends with Kim, Laura and Anna - so I had my "in". I just played it cool and made small talk with her. I paid for a limo to take us to the hotel. I didn't want to get into another stressful situation at the airport on trying to find the cheapest way to the hotel.

For the record, Kim was not just a bartender. She worked for a major US delivery service in sales and she had a good paycheck on top of what she made bartending. I understand being frugal - but come on, you are on vacation, in Vegas! Live it up!

Upon arrival at the hotel - Kim joins me at the front desk while i'm checking in.

"Yea, can you switch his king bed to two doubles...and can we get extra room keys?", she asks the clerk while she is rubbing my back.

"Why...", I start.

"In case someone gets tired or drunk - we can crash at your hotel room.", she said sweetly.

I think I heard a guy in the distance yell, "Sucker!!!!!"

Grrrrrrrr. Notch up another annoyance factor.

We go out on the town - in Old Vegas. The novelty lasts for about 90 minutes before we go back to the hotel. Kim, Anna and Laura tell me they are tired and want to sleep badly. Off to my room they go.

I wasn't too upset because Tiffany was awake and still wanted to drink.

"Forget the bars - lets hit the tables.", she told me.

I was more than happy to oblige. We played a little roulette, her favorite game, when I saw my game calling me - 3 card poker.

Back in the day, a group of bartenders and some patrons used to hang out after the bars closed down to play poker. We would play straight poker, and variation games. One of our favorite games was called "357, Three Fifty Seven" - a variation of the game "3 Card Guts". Many of these games had a $1 ante - but would blow up really quick into $80-200 pots. To me, 3 card poker was a game I knew and I was very comfortable playing - even if the house odds are 11%.

It was 3am when I started playing on Thursday morning.. No one is around The Golden Nugget and its me versus the dealer. I started on my normal bet cycle - betting $25 a hand and $25 on the pairs plus ($50 total bet, but would surrender only $25 if I didn't like my hand).

I could do no wrong.

I was up $400, $800, $1200...in a matter of maybe an hour. It was great I was hitting on trips, flushes and straights. I was trying to waive Tiffany over to watch this but she was busy with roulette.

$1200 became $1600. $1600 became $2100. I got up to $2800 and i'm starting to think like this was a joke. I kind of got nervous because they were switching dealers on me and I was win, win, winning their money. I actually started to feel guilty winning all this money.

My luck turned. $2800 went to $2600. Then to $2400.

Thank you. Good night. I took my $2400 in winnings and went to Tiffany who was playing roulette.

I told her how it went - she was estatic for me. It was 5:30am and I treated us to a victory meal. We chatted a bit, and it wasn't until this moment that we hit a connection. Call it Vegas, call it booze, call it whatever you want but I knew right away that there was "something" about her. I felt the same vibe back from her. I found out that it was her birthday also, on Friday.

Kim did mention this, but from the moment we landed she was telling every bartender we met "It's my birthday!". Every new bar she would rush up to and say "It's my birthday!" This was Kim's trip - even if Tiffany was celebrating her birthday also.

We get back to my room....and both my double beds are occupied.

Anna and Laura in one and Kim in another. I brush my teeth and when I get out - Tiffany is in the bed next to Kim.

I slept on the floor of my own room after winning $2400. It didn't really occur to me to get comped another room. I was tired and my annoyance was tempered with my new found cash winnings. Plus I wanted to be a gentlemen and all that.

Stupid me never noticed that Tiffany positioned herself in such a way to let me sleep on the bed next to her. She told me after the trip, with a wink, that it was "you really blew a good chance there".

The next day we all wake up and i'm jumping on the bed to wake them up and showing them the roll of 100's. They are all happy for me and we make plans to hit the pool at 11am. We soon found out that the pool at The Golden Nugget was undergoing renovations - they would provide shuttle transportation every 30 minutes to The Mirage Hotel pool.

Kim flips out.

I'm not even sure why. Anna, Laura are trying to coax her. I'm busy playing a game of "Whats in your wallet" with Tiffany to the side of all this bru-ha-ha.

Kim is yelling at the front desk manager telling them how she planned this trip for months and had her friends flying in - no one ever said the pool was closed. It was embarassing. Finally the manager gives us free drink tickets while we wait for the bus to take us to The Mirage. Kim starts getting loaded, and this became a theme for Vegas - Kim getting really, really drunk whenever she was awake.

I wasn't very hungover, but it was 11am - I wasn't that interested in drinking. Nor, was anyone else - except Kim.

"It's my birthday! I'm going to have a good time!", she would say.

In Hoboken I think the majority of yuppies are functional alcholics. We work, we party, we work, we party. Most keep it under control and very few friends that have a steady 9 to 5 job let their drinking affect them in Hoboken.

Oh, sure, I know a few guys that I watched going from Wall Street guys to drinking at the bar for a living guys. But I can count them on one hand. Even the most raging alcoholics I know around town can keep it together when work is involved.

At first it was cool. Kim's drinking was just starting to rear its ugly head.

We get to the Mirage on Thursday and its absolutely gorgeous when compared to the dinky pool at The Golden Nugget. The pool is wonderful, the people are cool enough and there is some eye candy around - but not that much to make me all that excited. We grab a few beach chairs and make a day of it. It was good, and I was in a happy mood. Winning some nice cash will do that. I put $800 aside for my room and flight and was determined to spend the $1600 over the next 4 days in Vegas. To me, this trip was on The Golden Nugget, or "The Nug" as we started to call it.

Thursday went well. We had a good pool day. Until my big mouth got the better of me.

I'm hanging out with Tiffany, and I got her alone, we moved chairs a bit to position ourselves better for the sunlight. Tiffany and I were talking and she mentions how she is a big gym rat and loves to hit the gym.

Tiffany, for the record, had a tight body. Lithe and fit, she looked great. She tells me how she needs to work on her abs a bit.

I look over her abs, which any normal Hoboken girl would die for...but I stupidly agree with her I agree, "Yea, you do."

In my mind - she had a normal stomach and sure, I guess she could do more if she wanted it even flatter or tighter.

Open mouth. Insert Foot.

Beyond stupid comment. And little do I know, until after the fact, that my answer should have been, "No, your abs are great!"

Flatter. Learn from Furey. Flattery will get you everywhere, my friends. I'm brutally honest, and my biggest mistake is that I don't know when to shut the fuck up. A lot of times I don't even realize that i'm hurting someone's feelings with the words that come out of my mouth.

Tiffany didn't get upset with me, but in the back of her mind her interest level in me dropped a notch.

That night the gang avoids any more drama and we get to The Hard Rock. The rest of Kim's friends are due to arrive on Friday, so this night we have to ourselves. We are drinking, gambling a little at the bar at The Hard Rock. Soon we are dancing and Tiffany meets a very handsome man from Vancouver and his guy friends. She and Laura disappears with them and so do any chance I have with her.

Next morning we have some new arrivals for the pool at The Mirage. Some more of Kim's friends show up.

Ring, ring.

Kim's cell phone rings - talks a bit and we have an unexpected guest, showing up.

It's Chad. Kim's on again-off again boyfriend from California. He's flying in tonight. I didn't know the guy personally.

"Furey, is it cool if Chad can stay in your room?"

That was enough for me. I slept on the floor and was jumping thru hoops for this trip already. I'm gonna stay in my room.

"No, no way.", I put my foot down.

She started to make plans to possibly have Chad stay in her room with the three other girls - and Tiffany was most vocal, with me and Laura about how she did not want Chad in their room.

Laura, Tiffany and I conspire a bit - we aren't having any of this. Chad can get his own room.

Kim picks up quick on the fact that no one is digging that her sometimes boyfriend, not Mr. Right but Mr. Right Now, is coming to town. Once we get back to the hotel, she corners me alone in my room.

"I heard what you said about Chad! The girls told me everything!", she said.

"What are you talking about. I don't want him in my room and they don't want him to crash in yours..."

She is on a drunken drama fueled rant with me. She gets teary and yells a few more things about how we are ruining her trip and her birthday. She goes back to the room after she slams my door.

Little do I know is that is was one evil bitch.

The girls never said anything to her. She tricked me into telling what was going on by lying to me. She saw that Tiffany, Laura and I were having a heated discussion after Chad was coming in. So she lied to me with the accusations.

So what does she do? Unbeknownst She goes back to the room and flips out on Laura and Tiffany - saying, "Furey just told me EVERYTHING!"

All this over Chad flying in and needing a $180 room to crash in. From what I was told, Kim was so mean and cruel to Laura that she wanted to leave Vegas and go back to Hoboken.

Everyone was mortified. Kim was irate and got another guy friend of hers, who like me had his own room, to let Chad crash at his room.

That was the turning point for the trip. A few irritable incidents and then Kim just let all her anger out.

Friday night was Kim's big birthday dinner. This was the central event of the trip, about seven more of her friends flew into Vegas on Friday afternoon.

After the dinner, Tiffany and I met Laura at the hotel front desk. She was really upset, to the point of tears about what happened. I didn't even know what Kim had done to this point and they told me about the arguement.

We found out that Kim did the same thing to them - lied about what I said to find out what they talked about. That pissed me off. Plus it was a big dramatic scene over a simple thing - Chad flying in to Vegas.

Interestingly enough, I also found out from Tiffany that Kim approached her before the trip and told her to stay away from me. She tried the same manipulative tactics with her that she tried with me. We surmised that Kim had a sort of jealous thing for me - I was a pseudo-boyfriend. I did a lot of things with her that a boyfriend would do - we talked, we hung out - I filled a needy void in her life. Things were becoming much more clear with Kim.

We were able to talk Laura into staying and she agreed to go out with us that night.

Chad came in - and to be honest, he was a nice guy from first impressions. He had that laid back California attitude, making him very likable. So I couldn't fault him for being a goon...at first.

We get over to Rio and head to The Voodoo Lounge. It was Tiffany's birthday that night, too. Her canadian friends were meeting us at Rio, along with a client of hers that lived in Las Vegas.

We thought maybe the drama was over now. We were wrong.

We were at the bar for about an hour, and it was ok. Not much eye candy, but the rooftop view was great. As I was leaving the Voodoo bathroom, two bouncers rushed past me into the bathroom. I must have just missed a fight.

They are dragging out of the bathroom some tall guy with a square jaw...oh man, its Chad.

Chad's laid back California attitude was replaced with a red hot temper - he is writhing in their arms trying to break free. Two bouncers were dragging him to a side door. Kim sees this and begins to flip out, crying and screaming at the other employees of the club to find out what's going on. Great birthday, huh?

The rest of us are stunned. What the hell was going on?

Chad gets booted from the club - he told us he was accused of dropping a bag of heroin on the floor of the bathroom! An employee saw this and called the bouncers in. Chad is swearing up and down he would never use HEROIN! HEROIN? NO, not Chad.

I didn't see anything, and I was with Chad in the bathroom. I left only moments before. I just don't get why the bouncers would throw out a completely innocent guy. I never found out the real story, so we only have Chad's version of events.

Kim is having a meltdown. She is wildly drunk, emotional and irrational. She gets into her head that, "We have to get out of the Palms parking lot before the cops show up". She is running all over the parking lot waving down taxis.

We get back to The Nug. Kim and Chad disappear to her room. Laura and Tiffany go meet their Vancouver friends, and I gamble some more that night. A perfectly good Friday night in Vegas ruined because of Kim's jerkoff friend from California.

Saturday arrives. My birthday present to Kim is an hour long "doubles massage" at the spa in the hotel. When we get up to the spa we found out that the doubles room was booked and we would have to get a single massage. She begins to make a scene and I stop it, and calm her down. The tension is palpable with Kim - she was, during this time, remarkably sober, but I didn't even enjoy being around her at this point. I wanted to get the massage done and stay away from her for the rest of the trip.

After the massage, I meet up with Tiffany and Laura and we go to Mandalay Bay to meet up with a client/friend of Tiffany's for lunch. He hooks us up with access to the pool at the Venetian. I walk in and see Kato Kaelin by the pool, sunglasses on and reading the newspaper. I had the typical New York reaction - I looked once, mentioned "It's Kato" and shrugged. Big whoop-dee-doo. We had a fun day, taking pictures and riding the roller coaster at New York, New York. Of course the hot topic of conversation was The Palms fiasco.

Tiffany and I are still making a connection, but once again I simply made a new friend. Any chance I had with her was lost to three things: 1) I should have had my own room on Wednesday night, 2) I shouldn't have made the unflattering comment and 3) She met a extremely good looking guy from Canada. The trifecta working in reverse on me. How awful. Learn from Furey.

Life goes on. The three of us decide we will do our own thing that night, with Tiffany's new friends from Vancouver. We go to Rain at The Palms.

Great club. We dance a bit and drink a lot. The Canadian guys I don't know very well, but they are likable enough. It becomes sort of obvious that i'm the fifth wheel. I'm just not one of those guys that can go to clubs and walk up to a girl and chat them up. I needed a wingman, and my "wingwomen" were busying dancing with the Canadian guys. I tell everyone i'm tired and leave to their protests for me to stay.

Little did we know, until the next day that more drama unfolded while we were at Rain. Kim was out with Chad and her friends. She somehow had a panic attack at another casino, and later got into an arguement with Chad. Chad left that night for California.

Sunday we packed our bags and Tiffany and I went to the airport together and left on seperate flights. Laura had the return flight with Kim and Anna. What a nightmare that must have been. I didn't remember even saying goodbye to Kim. I think I left her a message on her cell phone.

That was it. The drama, the fighting and watching Kim self destruct on a trip with her drinking. It really opened up my eyes to who my friends were. I didn't want to be friends with Kim anymore. I felt betrayed and the drama just didn't sit right with me.

But even after the trip I made a new friend with Tiffany. She was a factor in my reason to give up smoking and to join a gym. I quit smoking cold turkey the day I returned to Hoboken on October 14, 2003. I joined Club H in January 2004.

To this day Tiffany and I are still friendly and we email every other week. Tiffany upon her return from Vegas, became serious with the guy she was dating. He is a great guy, and they are a good couple.

She is still bartending, along with Laura in town.

Kim is no longer bartending, but she is still living in Hoboken. After the trip I barely spoke to her again but we talked about the Vegas trip about 2 months after it happened, when we had dinner together at Leo's Grandevous.

I have tried to explain to her the whole trip from my eyes, but she doesn't see it the same way. She got defensive with me when we started to talk about it. She claimed that the drama wasn't her fault. She didn't see a problem with her drinking - she was just having fun. I tried to remind her how often do we ever go out - during lunch or dinner that she doesn't order an alcholic drink? Lunch its a glass of wine with ice. At dinner its something harder. She didn't want to hear it.

In the end, that was enough for me. To this day I see her from time to time on the streets and we exchange pleasantries. Laugh a bit. But it's hard to fix something after its broken.

There is something to be said about trust in life. Trust in relationships. Trust in friendships. It's the bond that lets you know you can talk to your friend or your lover. It's the bond that you have with lifelong friends that makes it ok to be stupid sometimes.

She broke that trust with me. It was just never the same again.

Posted by Furey at June 15, 2005 2:56 PM

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