January 20, 2008

One of the things I relate to the most about the US elections is that they are filled with despair, disappointment and crushed dreams. But we never get to see any of it.

How great would it be if whoever lost the Nevada primary Saturday night put out a statement that said: "It sucks."

There can only be one winner but there are multiple losers. And if you're going to be a loser, there's no better place then Nevada.

There are parts of Nevada that are stunning but if you're looking to be around lost hope and suffering, it's probably best to head somewhere like Las Vegas.

On my one and only visit to Las Vegas I was there for 48 hours. Which for me, was 46 hours longer than necessary. As soon as you enter the airport you're confronted with sensory overload. Giant flashing slot machines, cocktail waitresses with synthetic bunny tails, loudly dinging bells and shrieks of delight over winning eight dollars in nickels. By the time I got to baggage claim I was numb.

When I told my friends I was going to Las Vegas naturally their first question was: why? Most people go there to have fun. And since I don't have fun, it didn't make sense. If you don't drink, gamble, or swing on a pole, Las Vegas is an incongruous destination.

I stayed at a hotel called the Mandalay Bay. And to make my stay more personalised, I was asked to choose from five personas. The Player, The Connoisseur, the Party Goer, The Escapist or the Professional. Who am I? That was a good question. "What about The Loser?" I asked. That persona wasn't available.

Instead I chose The Escapist - which gave me access to the artificial beach. The check-in lady seemed to prefer the term "man made" and pointed out it had "nearly 3,000 tons of real sand". Is there even such a thing as fake sand?

What if I'd chosen The Professional? That seemed too suggestive.

All I wanted was to get upstairs to the room. But when I got there, all I wanted was to open a window - something I quickly discovered isn't possible in Las Vegas. I called down to ask why my window wouldn't open and was informed that too many people end up jumping after they've lost all their money.

"What about a room on a lower floor?" None of the windows opened. It seemed like if someone was determined to kill themselves they'd find other options. Why should all guests have to suffer? If the hotel can build a beach, shouldn't they be able to build a floor for people who don't gamble but enjoy fresh air?

I had no choice but to go outside. But this was very confusing because even when I was outside it still felt like I was inside.

There was a woman standing nearby smoking a cigarette who told me she just lost $2,000 at the Blackjack table but that the good news was her husband lost twice the amount so he wouldn't be mad at her. I admired her positive attitude.

Imagine the let down Obama or Hillary will feel this morning after the Nevada primary? Of course he or she will pretend it's not a big deal and focus on the next chance to win. But eventually, the winning will stop and one of them is going to have to concede defeat. Which means someone's going to be really depressed.

I suppose candidates can always console themselves by thinking that at least they were gambling to win - and also, the millions they gambled away was other people's money.