Got 30 down at the bottom, 30 mo at the top/ All invisible set in little ice cube blocks/ If I could call it a drink, call it a smile on da rocks/ If I could call out a price, let’s say I call out a lot.
— Nelly, from his song “Grillz”
Each beat of the bass line reverberated deep within my chest, the noise made even more tangible by the rhythmic vibration of my pant legs. I thought of the cup of water in that scene from Jurassic Park in which T. Rex approaches the Jeeps — BOOM, ripple, BOOM, ripple. My clothing fluttered to the music, making my body tingle. I remained with my back to the wall, watching clubgoers shake, bump, and grind. The most I could do was bob my head to the music — hip-hop songs are too slow, the beats spread too far apart for a techno-raver like me to find my groove.
An abandoned glass, filled only with ice and a small black straw, fell from a narrow ledge by my shoulder and shattered at my feet. After a quick look around, I deduced it was the resonant baseline that had knocked the glass from its precarious perch. A moment later, two of the girls from my group made repetitive hand gestures indicating a desire to perform fellatio. Remember who you’re with, Barb, I told myself. These are good girls, not like the kind you used to party with. I smiled and followed the six women to the bar to fetch the drinks for which they’d actually been gesturing.
“We’re in!” Jane said as she handed me my lemon drop cocktail. In response to my raised brows, she elaborated, “We can sit at a VIP table! I made a friend and he has a table! He’s really nice!”
We had been on the list for a table (a friend of a friend of Jane’s friend Jen is a “high roller,” and our weekend at the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel was fully comped, VIP style), but, according to the suit at the door, some “major players” were in town and thus we were bumped to the club’s version of coach class.
That was, of course, until Jane “made a friend.” She glided toward the section from which we had been turned away less than an hour before, and beckoned us with one hand to follow her perky red dress.
Standing over a small booth the length of four narrow asses was Jane’s new friend, a 6’3” solidly built man with skin the color of dark chocolate disappearing beneath a gleaming white casual Fubu suit.
“This is my sister, Barb!” Jane called up to her new friend.
He smiled at me, revealing a sparkling set of grills — teeth covered in gold and diamonds. I grabbed the palm-sized, diamond-studded medallion hanging from a platinum chain around his neck and said, “I see you brought your bling.” He nodded with pride.
Sitting in the booth behind him was another man, just as large, but dressed like a dapper college kid from the 1930s in an argyle sweater with a matching page boy’s cap. Next to the seated fellow were two scantily clad women, one of whom I was convinced was a transsexual. As there was no room for anyone else to sit, the rest of us stood awkwardly in the center of the room lined with six black-leather booths, each fronted by a small table topped with one bottle of alcohol (Grey Goose Vodka on ours), mixers, ice, and a handful of glasses.
Mr. Bling eyed my sister and licked his lips, like a wolf savoring the thought of devouring Little Red Riding Hood.
“Jane, we’re not misleading these guys, right? I mean, they’re not expecting anything, are they?”
Indignant, Jane said, “Of course not! These guys are nice! I told them I had a man and a kid, and they said it’s cool that we hang out, like friends!” My sister is not an idiot. But she can be naive.
The rest of the girls had retreated back to the bar, perhaps feeling uncomfortable beneath the ravenous gaze of Mr. Bling. Jane ran after them, all smiles, to replace her empty glass with a full one. I decided to slough off some of my jaded casing and attempt conversation with the diamond-studded man.
“So, where are you from?”
“Michigan,” he answered, placing his hand on my hip. I took one step back.
“What brings you to Vegas?”
“Coming out to have some fun,” he said, stepping forward and resting his hand on my ass. He smiled, and I stared at his mouth, mesmerized by the reflection of the strobe light from the dance floor flashing on his shiny grills. “Why don’t we take a little walk?” As he asked this, he pressed himself against me, and I cringed, realizing he’d taken his Viagra before coming out to party.
Remembering a line from one of my favorite rap songs, I said, “Honey, I gotta man.”
“So? This is Vegas, baby. You can do whatever you want,” he said, now swaying back and forth, in case my left leg had missed the message his third leg was clearly trying to impart.
“So, I’m a taken woman.”
“That doesn’t bother me, baby. Let’s take a walk. Damn, that’s soft,” he said, squeezing a handful of my buttocks.
“Yeah, I know it is, but it’s not for you.” I guided his hand back to his side.
He grabbed my wrist and said, “Here, I want to show you something.”
Jerking from his grasp, I said, “Do you think I’m a fucking idiot? Like I don’t feel that thing thwapping against my leg? I’m flattered, really, but come on, man, have some respect. No.”
“You could make my Vegas fantasy come true,” he said. Now I was amused. The thought of me actually caring about whether or not Mr. Nasty Dry Humping Bling Man’s fantasies came true put a smile on my face, a smile that was misinterpreted.