There was a semi-surprise birthday party for Stan at the Encore pool today.   I say semi-surprise because he knew we were all getting together down there, but he didn’t know that pictures and a few gifts would be involved.  It was planned by his friends in advance (before any of them even knew me or that it was my birthday) and they tried to get creative, hanging pictures in the elevator and around the pool area and sticking the large inflatable monkey in a tree, but the hotel staff wasn’t having any of that.  Regardless, we all had a nice time hanging out by the pool.

We all dispersed around 5:00 and took some time before meeting up again.  Amanda and I enjoyed the view of Vegas from the couch for a while.  I took a shower after a while and watched the sunset.  I called to talk to Milly, but she’d gone to bed a little bit before.  I did talk to my parents (it’s my dad’s birthday too) and siblings earlier today.

All of us except DK (who was not feeling well) went to see Cirque du Soleil: Mystere.  It actually worked out that DK didn’t go because we were one ticket shy.  The show was really cool, of course, though the general consensus was that people liked Love better.  They were two very different shows though.  Love had more dancing whereas Mystere was more of a circus and acrobatic display.  I think the part that impressed me most were these two guys who did this balancing act on each other.  For example, one guy would do a handstand on the other guy’s hands while the guy holding him up would get on the ground and do some contorting slow motion somersault thing.  It’s hard to describe, but the amount of strength, not to mention muscle control, involved was mind blowing.

Amanda started feeling bad during the show and ended up going back to the hotel.  She felt terrible about it since it’s my birthday, but I knew she wouldn’t bail for nothing.  Sarah went back to the hotel with her because she was going to check on DK and pick up a couple things anyway then meet us for dinner at Mon Ami Gabi.

We had 10:00 reservations for Mon Ami Gabi and took two cabs.  I rode with Stan and Nate, and when we got there (about half an hour early) Stan suggested we find a roulette table at the Paris Casino (to which the restaurant is attached) and each play a single number.  I think Stanton and Nate played something like 8 and 6.  When I talked to my dad a few days ago he said he and my mom had stopped in Vegas one night on the way to Washington and played 34 on roulette and kept winning.  That was in my head, plus it’s my 34th birthday (on March 4, or 3-4, no less), so I played the 34.  Stanton gave us all $100 chips.  At first I put my chip on the wrong number because the one next to 33 was covered with someone else’s chips.  The dealer called out the number though and I realized my mistake, so I quickly moved it to 34.

I didn’t expect anything, of course, but then someone told me I had won.  I hardly remember the next moments, but I do remember spinning around, dipping down, putting a fist to my mouth and making some kind of sound.  Payout in roulette is based on the odds, and the odds of landing a single number are 1 in 35.  Stanton’s $100 chip turned into seven $500 chips for me in an instant.

The dealer reminded me to get the initial $100 chip and the lady at the table reminded me to tip him, so I gave him the $100 chip.  I tried to give some of the chips to Stanton, but he wouldn’t take any.  I gave one chip to Nate, and he protested, but I told him I didn’t do anything to earn it and it could have landed on his number just as easily as it did mine.

We didn’t do anything else in there.  We just walked up, placed our bets, cashed out and left.  I feel like that’s kind of pimp somehow.  I did have a slight issue cashing out when the person at the counter asked for a player card (I still have no idea what it is), but the table we played was right in front of the cashier, so he was able to get confirmation from the dealer.

I was on such a high.  I remember we were walking towards the front of the Paris flanked by Nate and Stan.  I put an arm around each of them and they both picked me up.  Man, that was a great moment.  I don’t think I’ll forget that for the rest of my life.

Oh, and badger claw.

We had a great dinner at Mon Ami Gabi.  It’s a place I’d heard a bit about and Devon said something about it too.  He’s the one who called and made the reservation.  Big thanks to him and the people who suggested the place, as it put me there at just the right time.

We had a cool waitress and a great dinner.  I’d been in the mood for something like a hamburger since lunch, so that’s what I ordered.  I was feeling adventurous so I sampled mussels and scallops, and I have to admit I kind of liked them.  In attendance were Stanton and Nate (obviously), Sarah, Fin, Jess, Devon and Heather, who told us a story us meeting Steve Wynn by way of Mick Jagger, which become more of a story than the one she set out to tell in the first place.

I didn’t tell Amanda about the grand luck of winning on a single number in roulette because I wanted to surprise her, so when I got back to the hotel I went right up and threw the money up in the air.  She was in bed and complained when I turned the lights on, plus she was pretty much out of it, so she had no idea what what I threw up in the air was a couple dozen and then some hundred dollar bills.  And sadly, she went and threw up something else a minute later.  That whole thing was not nearly as fun as I had planned it to be.

I sat with her for a little bit then went downstairs and threw away some money on blackjack.  I limited myself to $100, but Sarah gave me a little extra a couple times.  I broke even I think, but then I gave her half of what I had (in addition to having paid back what she gave me).

Around 2:00 I got up to go upstairs since I had to be up early to leave.  I looked around to say bye to everyone else, but I didn’t find them.  I did realize that I hadn’t play any slot machines yet, and I had wanted to do that, so I sat down at one.  At first I couldn’t figure out how to give it money, or something (I don’t know, I was tired), but after I looked at a second one I figured it out.  I almost sat down at that one, but I decided to go back to the first one, and it’s a good thing I did.  I played $5 on a dollar slot machine and won $60.  I think I had it up to $63, but I think I was down to $61 on my fifth spin so I gave it one more just to get a nice even number.  Maybe I should have allowed myself ten more spins with the luck I was having tonight.  Anyway, I stopped at $60 and just laughed at how easy that had been, especially since it was an afterthought.

I wandered back to tell Sarah and Fin, who were at the last blackjack table I’d played.  I said bye to them then saw Devon and Stan at another table, told them, hugged them goodbye and profusely thanked Stan for such as awesome trip.  Then I cashed in $1495 of chips and vouchers then went upstairs for my last few hours in Las Vegas.

Zach Dotsey