There are flame throwers and fire spitters and glamorous transvestites for as far as the eye can see. I tiptoe by two men passed out in an alley. People really know how to party here.
Folks are laughing and stumbling about wearing little more than tattoos of nude pin ups and a smile.
I shriek as an enormous chihuahua roach charges me. I see the whites of his eyes. He laughs maniacally, his greasy antennae brushing my bare ankles. I hop about frantically as he flips me off and races beneath my feet.
My sister and her friends stare at me. I blush. I am not a princess. I can handle a little roach. BUT THIS IS NO LITTLE ROACH!
"Did you see that?" I stammer. "Did you see how that enormous rat roach charged at me? With aggression? He looked right at me! Aggressively! He was an aggressive roach! I heard him say my actual name! That roach needs anger management."
"He's drunk," says my sister. "He's a drunk roach. He ingests the beer people spill on the sidewalk. Then he becomes angry. He's an angry roach."
"As are all the roaches in this crazy town. His mother probably left him alone at night when he was a very young roach while she pole danced on the strip. Now he's pissed. He was HUGE! What the hell do you FEED your roaches, anyway!?"
"Makes perfect sense. Cheeze-its piss me off too," I say. "Down with Cheeze-Its."
I am in downtown Las Vegas on First Friday August 2011. My sister's art is hanging in a gallery. We are here to collect monies from the gallery owner and celebrate Coral's success. Someone has purchased her Virgin Mary.
"You should paint more Marys," I say. "People just love all that religious iconography stuff. Makes them feel all warm and fuzzy inside."
She nods. Her waist length black dread locks sway two and fro as she walks. She holds the hand of her new-ish man. He watches her every movement with utter adoration.
Men always fall madly in love with Coral. She has the gift of looking into the eyes of a man and making him believe the world has passed away. Locked in her gaze she works a spell on Man. He is powerless. Men all over the world pine after my sister.
She seems to really like this one though. He's a good one this time.
"Ya wanna go to The Gypsy Den? My face is stenciled all over the walls and tables at that place," she says.
"Yeah. I'm up for whatever. Let's go."
The Gypsy Den is a colorful outdoor venue for local bands and artists selling their wares.
A very skinny, very stoned young man dangles a fist full of beaded necklaces immediately before my eyes.
"I'm a starbing artisht," he slurs.
"Me too," I nod. "I'm a starving artist too."
There is no way I'm buying those crappy necklaces. My six year old creates better art with string and macaroni noodles.
I see a throne before me. I was meant to sit upon this very throne of gypsy queens.
In my dreams I am always a gypsy. In my dreams I am free to travel in bare feet and steal bread as I go.
"Sit with me on my throne, Coral. Let go your man for one second and sit with me."
We sit upon our gypsy throne and strange young men snap photos of us for which purpose I know not.
Eventually Coral goes back to her man. I become bored of the sounds of lips smacking and the sensual murmurs of new love. I miss my husband. I like kissing too, ya know.
I go to the bar for a Coke. When I return I have a story to tell.
"A 21 year old kid bought me this coke," I say.
"WHAT?! Which one? Where is he?" shrieks Coral.
"That one. He's a Spanish speaker."
"He's good looking!"
"Yeah. I guess. He asked if I spoke Spanish. He was all excited when I said, 'Si'..."
"21?! Jeez. That's YOUNG!"
"I know. I told him I was married and not to buy me a drink. I told him to save his money for a chick he could settle down with..."
"He said I was hot. In Spanglish. THEN he asked how old I was! CAN YOU BELIEVE THE NERVE OF THAT CHILD? I told him I was 33. I shaved TWO WHOLE YEARS off my actual age... Why did I do that?"
"I can't believe you told him you were married. That's SO LAME!"
"Whatever. I wanted to pinch his cheek and stick a binky in his mouth. I wonder if he prefers Pampers or Huggies..."
"So you took the Coke, huh?"
"He insisted. He kept saying, 'Te invito. Te invito. Andale, te invito!'. So I thanked him and took the Coke."
It was a good Coke.