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2005-02-25 - 2:15 p.m.

I have now spent a week in Texas and twenty-four hours in Las Vegas. Does anyone want to go double down on which location contains more cowboy hats?

Those who hold to the opinion that travel is an exotic and enticing experience, while quite possibly they aren't thinking of Austin and Sin City, might do well to jump on a plane and try it for a week. It takes all of two sunrises before you long for that ugly couch and a mouse scuttering by your feet.

A few connecting flights through you start to wonder why in the name of Amelia Eirheart people decide to bring the better part of their homes in large rolling caravans onto the plane. If you want to check a piece of luggage that could double as the monolith from 2001, that's fine, but why, oh why must it stay by your side for the four hours you're going to be squat in a cushion riddled with mashed cashues. Someone tell me. The contents of my man-purse are all I require to keep me from crumbling bordom. Apparently, however, these giddy travelers insist on dragging along a home dialisis machine and their private collection of Patsy Cline LP's just to ease the soul.

Still, my traveler's instincts are beginning to hone themselves. I have achieved a rite of passage that can only be described as the frequent flier's equivalent to his first kiss. On this date, I talked my way into being upgraded to first class on a fully booked flight. I'll wait a moment for the cheering to quiet down.

With my boyish appeals aflutter, and charm just as slick as my plane hair, I cozied up to woman guarding the gate and laid out my case, fully equipted with power-point presentation and a few helpful graphs from kinko's. (Thank god they're twenty four hours.) She resisted, lamented, at one point breaking down into tears fighting the inevitable, but when all was said and done...oh I had that cushy chair.

Of course the flight was only forty-five minutes long, but I had that chair, and to be sure the world remembered the day I broke up upgrade cherry, I carved my name into the arm rest with the complimentary peanuts that I think were designed for metal work. Of course, when then discovered me in the act of embossing the chair with my moniker, there was a bit of the scene, after which I was ejected from the plane, which seemed slightly unnecessary as we were only about thirty feet off the ground that point. The skycaps were friendly though. If you're reading this Chaz, thanks for the Moutain Dew. Hit the spot.

Shortly afterwards I was ushered into the land of flash and flicker; a world populated by a field of slot machines who seem to communicate with each other by dishing out a series of beeps and buzzes not unlike the din of a million cell phones going off at once. This is truly a magic valley.

In the day time Vegas looks like a girl making the walk of shame. All bright neon flushed out by slammiing rays of sun. At night she wakes up again to join the circus. My nights so far spent on the sidewalk of the strip miles from the actual hotels which insist oddly on keeping their distance from the street, assisting the willing and their checkbooks into their lobbies with a series of moving walkways. Self mobilization is discouraged as it tends to tire out the right arm's ability to pull levers and push buttons, and reach for wilted wallets.

Sipping Hefaveisen from a plastic cup alone at a table set for four, I watch the guitar players of a cover band sway with frustration as the piano player in back bleets out the backbeat of the only song that seems capable of pulling the Spring Breaker's onto the dance floor. Usher and Ludacris work their magic on the co-eds while the thirty year olds sit at tables saluting Jon Bon Jovi songs by raising their glasses a moment and little more. I frighten a few of my neighbors when I can't help but cackle watching a forty year old cowboy in suspenders and forty pound belt buckle attempt what looks like a sultry version of the bunny hop with the backside of the only woman lending flavor to the floor.

Tonight, Friday night, I'll look for three dollar minimum bet black jack tables, loose my shirt, and end up watching the Incredibles in my hotel room, with a longing deep in my heart...just to be back in the smog of urine in the subway, the bars who allow themselves personality, and the people who catch a reference to Greek Mythology.

I'm sure that's all here somewhere, outside of the urine. The people and the places, they're all in this town somewhere. I know there have to be.

But I don't have a car.

Maybe I have time for "Kinsey."

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