The End of the Line

I woke up, mouth wide open, with my cheek snuggled into the wet spot of saliva on my pillow. The scent of stale vodka, tinged with a splash of cranberry, emanated from my pores, powering through the makeup I couldn’t be bothered to wash off before having sloppy, drunk hotel sex. I rolled over to see my boyfriend in a similar state and could only smile. We had a good time the night before. I won $250 at the roulette table, spent zero dollars on drinks and was sufficiently sloshed by night’s end in that happy, light way that doesn’t always occur in Vegas, but when it does, it’s a big win. We drove in from LA the night before, and this hangover wasn’t going to stop us because we were in our late 20s, a time when three ibuprofen and a big glass of water can still miraculously bring you back to life.

We were with the couple (fair to medium on the fun scale) that set us up several months prior, and the boys wanted to go to some buffet for brunch. A couple of self-proclaimed “foodies” who often spoke wistfully and obnoxiously of their Ivy League days, I wasn’t surprised to learn they were more excited for this buffet over general Vegas debauchery. I remember consciously reassuring myself it was important to have different interests in a relationship. Anyway, this place was the supposed holy grail of Vegas buffets. They really sold it, too. “King crab legs, green applewood smoked wagyu beef, handmade dim sum, baked-to-order chocolate lava cake and…an omelet bar.” I wasn’t impressed by the omelet bar since that’s a major selling point for a Holiday Inn Express, but the rest sounded quite promising. I am easily swayed by the lure of red meat, chocolate desserts and bottomless mimosas in the morning

As we sauntered through the casino floor, ensconced by the melodious sounds of slot machines, my boyfriend and I held hands, relishing our first official weekend away together. Full disclosure, I really was obsessed with him. He was like a literal Disney prince — 6 feet tall with big blue eyes similar to a sweet, cartoon owl and one of those flashy Crest White Strips grins. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were veneers since he came from serious cash in comparison to my Becky Conner-like upbringing. And yes, he was very intelligent, mentioning how he enjoyed “dropping the H bomb” about where he went to school. Plus, he was sort of funny. Dad jokes, of course, but I’ve never been above those. He knew my preferred drink (Belvedere rocks with lime) and would replenish it for me without even having to ask. He thought my unbridled enthusiasm for Vegas was delightfully charming over unabashedly trashy. Sometimes he’d even give me a twenty, so I could indulge my “old man” proclivity for posting up at a video poker bar with a cocktail and a cigarette. I don’t smoke, but I think doing so inside is a cheap thrill.

Drunk in love and ready to be drunk in reality, we rounded the corner to the buffet. What I saw can only be described as an actual mob in the queue for this place. We were dealing with over 100 people in line. And yes, there were hordes of children. Children! I like kids, but I am always mystified at the sight of them in Las Vegas. What on earth are they supposed to do there? I feel sorry for them, I do, but I certainly don’t want to be around them either. I mean, I’m on vacation. And what kind of idiot pays $50 for children to eat at a buffet with rosemary marinated tri-tip?

Regardless, I quickly determined that we needed to make a break for it and figure out Plan B.

“Oh, well!” I declared, throwing up my hands. “Good thing we’re in Vegas, and there are literally hundreds of other places we can go for brunch! Sorry, guys. We tried!”

The three of them clearly could not compute what I had said. My boyfriend rubbed my shoulders with a smarmy smile I found infuriating and patronizing. “We’ll just wait in line, hon. This place is supposed to be amazing.”

I slow blinked at him in disbelief. “But look at all these people! We could be here for hours, and we’re on vacation!” Didn’t he understand how to prioritize and maximize fun on vacation? You only get so many of them and to waste a single moment waiting in line would be a travesty. I would have gladly shown him the ways of my world, but I was quickly rebuffed.

“It’ll move fast,” he said. I didn’t believe it, so much so that I went up to the front to confirm the wait time with the hostess. As suspected, it was horrifying news.

“About two and a half hours,” she said, an eyebrow raised, as if to challenge me.

Two and a half hours? Of waiting? To eat? In Las Vegas? When I’m starving? NO. Absolutely not. This was unacceptable, and I returned to my boyfriend to deliver the message, hoping it would knock some much-needed sense into him. Surely he would get it. He was dating me for several months now. He knew how I felt about long lines and frankly, the world in general when I was completely ravenous.

I told them the wait time, and still, nobody looked fazed! They honestly looked prepared to wait in this godforsaken line for years if that’s how long it was going to take to eat at this buffet. I was legitimately disturbed. How did I wind up traveling for leisure with people like this? I must have audibly scoffed, so my boyfriend offered me another $20 to go play while they waited, but I was hungry. Hon-gray! I refused to be bought off by this man.

“If you’re making me eat here,” I proclaimed. “We have to do something.”

Now he looked at me like I was a crazy person. “There’s nothing to do, babe, but wait.”

I shook my head. False. This was LAS VEGAS, and if he wasn’t going to do anything, I was going to take care of it myself. “I’ll be right back.”

“Where are you going?” He loud-whispered, looking supremely embarrassed of me. No matter. I marched back up to that hostess and pulled a $100 out of my purse from my hard-earned winnings the evening before. Soon he’d be grateful!

“There are three others in my party. Will this get us to the front of the line?” Of course, it did. Vegas, baby. I waved them over to the buffet entrance, excited and proud of my baller accomplishment, but they just looked at me like I was Scarface.

We were shown to our table, and I watched them, baffled, as they immediately went to wait in line at the omelet bar. My boyfriend began his so-called magical buffet experience in the only line in the place. I just shook my head. There was nothing to say. We simply saw the world differently. He saw lines, and I saw opportunities. It was at that moment I realized we probably wouldn’t work out. I had two mimosas and a prime cut of filet mignon by the time they all finally sat down with their eggs.

“That was humiliating,” my boyfriend muttered to me. Yeah, I knew how he felt.

“How’s that omelet?” I asked him, ripping apart a crab leg with gusto.

Back in LA, as predicted, we eventually called it quits.

My new boyfriend never asks me to wait in line to eat. He doesn’t want to wait either.

Photo Credit: NESR 1978 Flickr via Compfight cc

Rachel Koller

Rachel Koller is a Los Angeles-based writer, originally from Chicago. She largely focuses on female-driven comedy projects, having just sold her first TV show to a popular cable network. She also has two features in development at major studios and a plethora of digital series under her belt. Additionally, Rachel is working on her first novel. She can probably guess your zodiac sign.

  1. Susan P. Blevins

    Oh Rachel, I had to laugh out loud at your recipe of ‘3 ibuprofen and a big glass of water’ because that’s what I took last night! Let me tell you, that recipe works when you’re in your 70s too! And I love Las Vegas because that’s where my late husband got his quickie divorce just before he met me! He wasn’t there BECAUSE of me, but it was good timing on his part!

    Good story! S

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