So this weekend I made my first ever trip to Atlantic City with a dozen barbarians for a weekend of debauchery and celebration. Having never even gambled before, I had no idea what to expect. The result was 36-hour span far more amazing and ridiculous than I could have even conceived. Below, is a loose timeline of what transpired.
12pm Friday: Being that I have no job and about $17 to my name, I was pretty sure that I would not be making the trip at all and would subsequently be spending my week listening to Coheed & Cambria, cutting my wrists and ultimately David Carridine-ing myself. But the gods smiled upon me when I got a call that they needed a driver that night at the restaurant where I worked in college (and hadn’t worked in a year). Done and done.
11:00pm Friday: Walked out of work with an unusually-high $120 in tips. Jackpot. I waited for Schoener to get off work after midnight then head down to meet up with everyone else so I spent this hour blasting music and getting so excited that I almost Carridined myself anyway- that would have been unfortunate. And awkward.
3:30am Saturday: Finally arrive in AC after making awesome time AND getting in a much-needed Wawa stop. We checked into our room at Harrah’s, which was already laughably trashed from our companions, who had arrived seven hours prior and thus had seven hours of drinking on us…and thus were currently at the strip club.
4:00am Saturday: Strip club. I’ve gotta get something out of the way here: I hate strip clubs. I’m not just saying that to sound respectful towards the women reading this, trust me, I’m not. It’s just that I am a horribly awkward human being who really can’t interact with strangers when they’re NOT naked and jamming their breasts in my face. I’ve never gotten a lap dance at a strip club and couldn’t really imagine a less comfortable situation personally. I just don’t know how to react. I guess you’re supposed to just sit back and act like you’ve been there before. But let’s call a spade a spade, I have most certainly NOT been there before if “there” is having a smoking hot, gigantic-breasted girl grinding on me. To try to act otherwise would be embarrassingly obvious, so I’d probably end up talking to her about her cats and trying to run out the clock. Needless to say, I’m not exactly James Dean as I walk in to the club stone-sober. Fortunately I managed to get some drinks, have some fun and keep my money in my pocket- so I call that a win.
5am Saturday: Left the strip club, met two cordial African American gentlemen on the corner, one of whom turns out to be a drug dealer (way to reinforce the stereotype buddy), and spent the next half hour being told that I’m “doin my thing”, which, based on context clues, was a compliment. I think. Good times.
5:30am Saturday: Walked with Schoener and Fitz to the Wild Wild West, which was NOT a Will Smith-themed casino, as I had hoped, but it was a casino nonetheless, AND it was home to ridiculous $2 beers and shots. Now we’re cookin with gas.
Now, I’ve played blackjack plenty of times, just never at a casino, so when I sit down with Fitz, I was a little shocked that the minimum bet was $15 a hand. I don’t know why I expected it to be so much cheaper, being that this was, after all, a fucking casino, but I quickly surmised that my $100 wasn’t going to last very long in Atlantic City. So I put down $15 and won. WOO. Did again and won again. 20 minutes later my $15 was $150- I AM RAINMAN. Unfortunately, I couldn’t say the same for Fitz or Schoener, who lost about as much as I won, but nevertheless, it was a success and we treated it as such at the bar.
8am: Walk out of the casino into the very bright sun and get a cab back to the hotel. Our cab driver was both jovial, and very adept at finding Lady Gaga songs on the radio- this was enough to warrant an invitational for him to come out with us and stay in our hotel room Saturday night. Never heard back from him though. Weird.
9am Saturday: Stumbled to the room for a 3-hour nap and to devise a plan the casino for all it’s got by nightfall.
12pm Saturday: Got breakfast and headed to the bar to watch the Flyers game. Ran into Kaminski on the casino floor, who had been up all night playing, lost $600, then made his way back to even somehow. Impressive.
One of the amazing things about a casino is the ability to multitask. I decided try to continue my luck at blackjack again, so I sat down at the table, where I had a great view of the Flyers game, got free drinks galore, got gambling advice for our elderly dealer and met a bunch of friendly gentleman from New York who probably would have stabbed me and thrown me in the ocean if I took their ace when I split 4s. Good times.
After a brutal run of 16s, I was down to just $30 bucks when I was dealt 9-9 to the dealer’s 4 that was showing. All-in time. I split the 9s, dealer busted and suddenly, I was back up. My luck continued, hitting the 4-1 side bet twice in three hands and went up to $180. Again- Rainman.
4pm: I was appropriately buzzed and wealthy so I met the guys back at the room to meet up with Cam’s parents, who made the dubious decision to take us out for drinks and food 24-hours into our stay. By this point, most of us were unreasonably drunk for a Saturday afternoon on the boardwalk, but it had to be done. This resulted in Cam celebrating his 23rd birthday with his family while acting eerily similar to the way I’d imagine he acted at his 8th birthday party. Later in the meal, Walsh told Cam’s parents about their voyage through an area of Atlantic City they referred to as “The Wasteland” and how- much to the dismay of the Belfields-they laid down in a dumpster. This prompted Walsh to yell “Some call it trash? I CALL IT HOME” in the middle of the crowded restaurant. I don’t think Cam’s parents like him anymore.
Over the next twelve hours, I lost $125, which paled into comparison to some of the other guys, like Russ and Fitz who lost a couple hundred, Cam who lost $1000 and Walsh who lost $1,100, his wallet, the contents of his stomach and his self-worth.
It wasn’t all losing though. Mullen, Schoener and Kaminski all won, or at least won back, money, Haley won the last-man-standing award, Russ won a prized spot in the only bed, until he passed out and fell off ten minutes later, Cotter finally got to swim, Jordan and Vin got live out their guido fantasies at the hotel club and Cam won the self-awarded title of “Unsmotherable”.
The one thing that I took out of the incredible, albeit short-lived stay in A.C. is that anything is possible. Like the guy who looked like General Radick in Air Force One who went up almost $10,000 in roulette then lost it all just a few minutes later. You can see one of your friends get stripped and sexually assaulted on-stage by a stripper- an image that is forever burned in my head and will serve as nightmare fuel for decades. You can go without sleeping for days, drink at 9am, put everything to your name on black, and no one will think twice about it. It’s a place where your dreams coming true are 10/1 odds against your dreams being crushed, but those are odds you’re willing to take. Because even if you lost everything you brought, you’re still leaving with enough ups, downs, bad beats, hilarious stories and I-can’t-believe-that-just-fuckin-happened moments to last a month.