‘Going to the chapel and I’m…gonna get mar-a-arrriedddd’ fake church towers, neon flashing signs and giant hearts blurred past the windows as we entered Old Vegas.
“Do you want to be Best Man?” Blonde enquired, turning to Geo. “Err what?!” I interrupted “hang on, it’s our wedding!” my hand waved between myself and Alaska “you don’t get to decide who’s in the wedding party!” I announced. Blonde only smiled “yeah, but what other choices do you have?”. I had to admit “well you have a point. I guess that makes you Maid of Honour then?” I glanced at the Little White Chapel across the street.
‘It’s not real, just a Vegas wedding, they don’t count, not in England, it’s not legal. It’ll be fun, Elvis might be there…’ I rationalised internally. “Errr, ok, well, I guess we should do this then…” I added, sounding more sure that I felt. “I’m up for it” Alaska laughed, everything a game to him. “I’m getting a frozen coke first!” Blonde insisted, clambering out the car and disappearing into the 7Elleven.
An argument similar to the one between Blonde and myself a few days earlier would usually have derailed a friendship to weeks of the silent treatment at best and serious questions over the continuation of friendship at worst. We’d conducted the argument over text message, thus removing a level of confrontation that neither of us felt quite brave enough to face. Well that, and if we let the words hang out to dry, we might really mean them and we just weren’t quite ready for that.
Everything was magnified in the car, every action a personal slight or the funniest exchange. We laughed till our sides hurt and rolled our eyes at each other in equal annoyance. The wonderful thing about travel however, is that arguments blow over with the sunrise. The next day we continued on as though the fight had never happened, or at least that’s how it appeared on the surface, internally Blonde harboured growing hurt at my increasing irritation and I continued to gnaw at my severely bitten tongue.
In an effort to experience the ‘real Vegas’ we booked ourselves into a hotel on the strip for our last night. Geo, who was easily convinced to remain on the trip until as far as San Francisco, checked into a room with Blonde.
Alaska and I, finally finding ourselves entirely alone for the first time since meeting and with no risk of being disturbed, did what any new couple would do when faced with such an opportunity! That’s right!… We took a nap.
Ok fine, we had sex! Really awkward, this is pretty shit, staring at the ceiling, can you just finish now, kind of sex. It’s not that I didn’t like Alaska in that way but where I should have been lost in the moment, the reality was, all I could think about was his comments on my physical appearance. The words he’d said in anger about finding me fat and unattractive still burned bright in their memory making me conscious of his every touch.
‘Oh no, don’t touch there! That bits squidgy! No! not the stomach! Ughhh oh god, the hips are the worst bit, go back to the stomach! Actually no! I’m just a sack of lard! I am so not comfortable right now! Do you think we could possibly have sex without touching? With the lights out? Maybe if we could get drunk first? Or how about I just lay here and not move?’.
So I did what I’m sure thousands have done before me, I pretended all was well because it really wasn’t him after all. It was entirely down to how I felt about myself, having lost layers of self confidence and with no one to go to for reassurance to help me build myself back up, my self worth had slipped pretty low.
“Oh yeahhhh,….that was amazingggg! Great sex! The best! Best sex ever! Loved it! High five?”. I laid there, waiting for sleep, riddled with guilt for failing as a girlfriend and wondering if I’d ever be able to find enough conviction to make this relationship work.
“This place is cool!” Alaska announced the next morning as we pulled on our hospital gowns and settled in for a meal at the heart attack grill. “I forgot we were coming here for lunch, I’ve already eaten” Geo declared, reviewing the menu “I could eat though…”.
A nurse approached the table “what can I get you guys?” she enquired, pulling up a seat and leaning forward in her tight costume. “I’ll just get a chocolate shake, double ‘quadruple bypass burger’ and some fries…” Geo announced. “Ummm you do realise the shakes are made with butterfat? They’re like 3,500 calories each!” I asked Geo, wondering if he’d actually read the menu.
“4000 and they’re served with a lump of butter on top too!” the nurse corrected. “Umm I’ll go with the hot-dog and a shake please” I asked mentally totting up the 7000 calories for my meal. Once we were finished ordering the nurse turned to leave before hanging back “You’ll know that if you don’t finish your meals you get spanked right?” she winked as a loud cheer erupted from the other diners.
A man was pulled from his seat by a nurse and taken to a wall where he clung to a metal rail. We watched in horror and amusement as a midget nurse swung a paddle at his behind. This was followed by a series of nurses who each took their turn in blistering the poor man’s cheeks. As his yells of pain amused the other diners, I calculated Geo’s meal. “You know you just ordered 15,000 calories of food right? You’re so going to get spanked!”.
Sweat dripped from Geo’s brow as he alternated between the butter fat shake and lard fried burger. My own meal sat heavy in my stomach, I’d forced down the last few bites, determined no waitress was going to bruise my ass! My body would spend the next few days working through the mass of calories, no inclination of hunger was felt again until we reached Cuba a couple of weeks later.
Defeated, Geo made his way to the spanking supports. The paddle whistled through the air before landing with a sharp thwack. Again and again the paddle swung, finally Geo hobbled back to us, a slight elation creeping at the edges of his features.
“Good on you” Alaska praised, “it wasn’t too bad actually” Geo decided. Alaska shot a wink at me “oh really? Almost sound like you enjoyed that!” I teased. “You did!” Blonde joined in to Geo’s protest. “Is your bum bruised?” Blonde continued as the cheeks on Geo’s face grew red, I presume to match those of his arse. “Come on, show us!!” Alaska encouraged. “Shouldn’t we get going?” Geo attempted a change in conversation.
With bloated bellies, we waddled away from the restaurant, ambitiously trying to walk off our gained pounds…and for one of us, swollen bum cheeks!
Old Vegas was filled with wedding chapels, the little white wedding church made famous by various celebrity couplings, signs for Elvis as the minister, pirate themed receptions, drive through ceremony….they had it all! It was a world that felt both naff and charmingly nostalgic. The sugar/lard influx had sent us all into a rather loopy mood, somehow it was decided Alaska and I should visit one of the venues.
“They want to get married!” Blonde leaned across me to yell out my window at the lady in the booth. We’d chosen the Little White Chapel drive through branch, a wedding ceremony that didn’t even require getting out of the car, for those really in a rush (or too weighed down by burgers to be bothered walking down an aisle). I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d agreed to, it might be nice to be married, my friends seemed to enjoy it, but then, they had been in love with each other to begin with, that was probably important?
‘What if this is my only chance to ever get married? Who wants a wedding anyway? Ugghh I’d hate to make anyone feel even a hint of how Bridezilla made me feel! Plus without Mum to walk me down the aisle or drink champagne at the dress fitting or sit on the top table with me, well…what’s the point in having a big do anyway! A normal wedding someday would be far too painful to get through! And who’d marry me anyway! ….hmmm Alaska wants to, maybe I’ve had the whole love thing all wrong? I’ve been looking for one of those Hollywood love stories, with sweeping gestures and butterflies in the belly. What if love is completely different than that? Perhaps I could grow to fall in love with Alaska? Hmmm, yeah, this is good idea, yeah, I can definitely get married in Vegas! What could possibly go wrong? Solid plan!’ I mentally concluded, turning to face the lady who’s own face looked less than impressed at the contents of our car.
“License?” she requested, any enthusiasm for the sanctuary of marriage long gone from the conveyor belt of drunken couples she’d witnessed.
“Oh, we haven’t got one…” I answered. “Courthouse’s around the corner, it’s open 24 hours, it’s 70 bucks and will take 20 minutes, go get that, then come back here and you can choose which package you want” she relayed with a bored voice, clicking an invisible button to open the gates for us to leave.
“Oh damn! We don’t really have time if we’re going to get to our motel before dark….we should probably leave it” I advised, some logic finally surfacing.
The seducing lights of Vegas faded in the wing mirrors as we headed deep into the Nevada desert. The roads were quiet with only the odd truck mysteriously pulling off the free-way onto dirt tracks that led to a single run down building viewable from the main road. “They’re brothels” Alaska explained “it’s legal in this part of Nevada”.
“Ohh look! They sell hot sauce!” Blonde announced, pointing at a washed out billboard whilst pulling into a neon green painted gas station. Large letters attached to the building read ‘Area 51 Alien Centre’.
“Are we in Area 51?” I asked excitedly, “close to it I think, it’s not exactly listed on the map” Geo replied. “I’m going to see what hot sauce they have” Blonde remarked, heading into the station.
The shelves were lined with alien themed tourist tat, I was in my element! “Oooohhh I could get an alien hat! And an inflatable alien! Everyone needs an inflatable alien! Do you think they’ll tell me how to get to the actual Area 51 site! We might see a real alien!! How cool would that be!” I blabbered whilst roaming the shelves, “you don’t need an inflatable alien, put it down. PUT IT DOWN!” Alaska wrestled E.T from my clutches, rolling his eyes as I handed him some bug eyed sunglasses to wear.
“The hot sauce is next door?” I found Blonde at the till speaking to the cashier who didn’t appear terribly amused as I emptied my arms of the Area 51 ‘keep out’ sign, iron on Alien patch and neon yellow alien face socks onto the counter. The woman was probably only a few years older than me but she wore a face of twice that, she looked tired of life, like someone who’d seen it all and had long since given up on any expectations from people.
“Well yeah, they have hot sauce, but…you know it’s a brothel?!” the woman explained to Blonde whilst readjusting her cleavage. “Yeah, that’s fine, I just really love hot sauce” Blonde bubbled back. The woman’s eyes flitted between me and Blonde “you know what a brothel is?!”.
Blonde giggled “yeah, but I just want hot sauce” she laughed again, I was beginning to feel uncomfortable something about the encounter seemed rude, I worried the cashier would think Blonde was playing dumb on purpose, misunderstanding her naivety and think she was taking the piss at the cashiers expense. “I’m going to go next door” Blonde sauntered off. The woman watched her go, wearing a somewhat bewildered expression as the door slammed shut at Blonde’s departure “She knows what a brothel is doesn’t she?”.
“Umm yeah, sorry, sorry about that. She really likes hot sauce and so errr yeah, sorry. Can I please just have these please, thanks, sorry. Thanks, thank you” I bothered in a typical British way, feeling as though I ought to be apologising for everything that had caused the woman to reside in this strange place, living her life alternating between her shifts next door and selling alien junk to tourists.
Alaska was lying down in the back seat of the car, his feet the only part visible sticking out of the door as the radio played loudly. “Where’s the others?” I asked kicking a foot once I’d reached the vehicle. “They’ve gone in there” Alaska sat up, nodding in the direction of the brothel. “Oh god! She took Geo in too!” I smiled, a little alarmed. “This has been a big day for him! Getting spanked by a host of women, including a midget lady and now he’s in a brothel. In Area 51! An alien themed brothel at that!” I remarked, flinging my bag of merchandise onto the passenger seat.
I debated going in to fetch them, a little concerned they were being forced to part with all their money for a type of hot sauce they hadn’t been expecting. Alaska appeared at my side before I had a chance to move “let’s dance” he reached for my hand, motioning me into a twirl.
We swayed under the ‘Aliens welcome sign’ in the empty car park, the sky a patchwork of pinks whilst we both fought to lead. “You ready to go?” Blonde’s voice interrupted, announcing their return.
“How was the brothel?” I enquired. “Bit weird, we asked for hot sauce, so she went and got some chips for us to try it with, we just sat in the foyer alone waiting” Blonde answered as I pulled back onto the free-way. “She told us she’d put a glove on first before touching the chips” Geo added commentary from the back seat, Alaska and I grimaced at the understanding. “The hot sauce wasn’t hot enough but they kept asking if we wanted to try anything else” Blonde finished. I laughed “so brothels aren’t the place to go for decent hot sauce then? Good to know”. I watched the road ahead, half expecting a UFO to fall out of the sky and a little disappointed when one didn’t.