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Going with the flow -- which is a new thing for me -- we joined Kip, Renee, and Mel on a journey to the Hilton, a.k.a. Star Trekker's Paradise. The ladies were, as one would expect from a night full of spastic revelry, exhausted. Kip, on the other hand, was surprisingly vigorous -- after years of friendship, the man's resilience still amazes me.

The rest of the afternoon, as everyone slept off the previous night's hangover and rested for the night ahead, and while Ollie and another friend threw dice all over the casino at their downtown hotel, David and I walked until the brim of my floppy red hat was damp with perspiration. From Paris to the Venetian, we sidestepped offers of free shows and lodgings; climbed over tourists, guards, dealers, players, and loudly bleeping, brightly blinking machines; and stopped here and there for a drink and people-watching.

At 9:00 p.m. we were stuck in traffic on the Strip. David took photos of the colorful Jumbotrons while I cursed at the driver of a Hummer-limo.

"This is worse than the Gaslamp on Saturday night," I said.

"I hate Las Vegas," said David.

"We could have seen a show," I said, wallowing in the fact that we killed six hours waiting around for others instead of following our own itinerary.

"I thought we were doing dinner tonight. Isn't that the plan? Everyone's getting together for dinner?"

As if on cue, Kip called to inform us that the birthday boy was hungry only for more dice throwing and the rest of the crew was about to head down to the Strip -- the same Strip that had left David and me stunned, overstimulated, and cranky.

"What now?" David asked when I got off the phone.

"Now we're going to go back to our hotel and do some gambling. I've got a hunch that this is my lucky night."

"Oh yeah? Then you'll probably be able to tell me the odds against me joining you."

"On second thought, why don't we break into one of the bottles of red you brought along and bury ourselves in bubbles?"

"Now that sounds like a sure bet," said David. n

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