Welcome to Vegas: Underage and Unafraid

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Vacations in Las Vegas (AKA Sin City) are pretty great. You essentially overindulge yourself with eating, drinking, smoking, gambling, and clubbing—it all becomes a blur of nights lacking in self-control. It ends in shameless loss of dignity. What follows is recollection, once you’ve left, of how awesome it was. Of course, none of this happened when I was there with my family for a weekend getaway, since I’m still a year under the age requirement for any of the activities that makes Las Vegas the place to be.

Age is a cruel, cruel mistress. While my older relatives were losing money and killing their livers and lungs with excessive drinking and smoking, I was stuck in the prison that was my air-conditioned hotel room watching Friends on the wide screen TV with 24-hour room service.

So what else did I, the only minor in my group, do while in Vegas? I suppose the more specific question would be: what risks did I take? I didn’t use a fake ID to get drinks or play some blackjack or go clubbing. It was probably easy enough to garner one, but I wasn’t going to bother with the sketchy process.

By my facial expressions  alone, my family could tell how disappointed I was with how the trip was going for me. We did do the things that I was old enough to do, such as watch performances by the Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil. We went sightseeing at various places, including: Fremont Street, Bellagio Gardens, and the Las Vegas Strip. I also ended up vomiting in a public restroom stall due to gorging myself on buffet food, which is probably as close as I’ve ever gotten to the so-called Vegas experience. Still, I couldn’t help but feel like that little kid who failed at trying to sneak into an R-rated movie.

It wasn’t until our second day in Vegas that my mother suggested we all go to a strip club.

“Why not?” she said, “It’s 18+ so David can go. It’ll also let these old men (my dad and uncle) see something interesting, and let David experience it at least once in his lifetime!”

Could you imagine? Your entire family, let alone your own mother, spending quality time together in a room full of sexy, seductive, dancing naked women with a forest of single dollar bills sticking out of their underwear. What a story that would make! Unfortunately, to my extreme disappointment, that didn’t happen due to some massive protesting by my aunt, and maybe possibly perhaps a little from me for a few reasons that escape my mind.

On our final night, my family and I had dinner at one of the fanciest restaurants I’ve ever been to: Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse. The lighting was dark, the place had a regal atmosphere to it, and the waiters were so very dapper. This steakhouse had various names on the menu that I couldn’t understand, even with the small descriptions under them. I felt like an uncultured plebian.

It was then that our waiter came. He was handsome—one of the handsomest people I’d ever laid my eyes upon. The place was dark, but that added an attractive shroud of mystery to him. The waiter introduced himself as Ben. He was to keep us relaxed and comfortable, explaining what the dishes were. While I was zoned out, swooning over Ben’s chiseled face, my family had already ordered for the whole table. Conversation with this man had to wait a few more minutes.

Ben’s accent was interesting. At first, it sounded like he had a very subtle Bronx accent. When he returned with our drinks, I asked where he was from. Ben revealed he was originally from South Africa. For the rest of the night, Ben from South Africa served my table with the best steak and lobster I’d ever tasted.

Now, there was one event during this delicious evening that had suave Ben from South Africa forever etched into my memory. My birthday was a week earlier. We didn’t tell anybody at the restaurant this so we weren’t expecting any special celebrations. However, my family still decided to sing “Happy Birthday” to me anyway, as they felt it was good timing.

When we were ready for the check, handsome, suave, bearded, gorgeous, striking, chiseled-faced Ben from South Africa came, but didn’t have the bill. Instead, he slowly walked up to my side, and placed a petite chocolate mousse cake garnished with a bright red strawberry and a single burning candle in front of me.

“Happy birthday, without compliments,” he said quietly, “I wish I could’ve known sooner to set something bigger up.”

All I could manage was a faint “Thank you” toward his back as he walked away.

So there you have it—the striking, handsome, fierce-eyed, bearded, well-dressed, princely, and drop-dead gorgeous waiter from South Africa named Ben who gave me free cake was the highlight of my Las Vegas trip.

Now, I know this article’s theme was established as big, climactic risk-taking. While this didn’t happen in Vegas, I did gamble on something extremely personal when I decided to write this article—something I’ve rarely revealed to others. And while I don’t endorse taking chances in life, I do believe that whatever results that may come from them will help us grow as people.

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