Unsurprisingly for noon on a June day in Vegas, it was hot, somewhere north of 90 degrees. Yet there’s something about sitting within 10 feet of a swimming pool that reduces the heat factor — or so I tell myself. Perhaps it’s knowing that, if I feel my skin about to burst into flames, I can always jump in the water to cool down.
Before leaving my hotel room, I sprayed myself with half a can of SPF 30 sunscreen and put on my Final Table Radio Show hat to cover my hairless pate. I even remembered my goggles, which I’d need if there was room to do a couple of laps in the pool. I wasn’t going to buy anything, so I left my wallet behind, taking only my room key.
My plan was to lay in the shade near the pool for an hour reading Craig Ferguson’s new book of essays, “Riding The Elephant.” I couldn’t find an empty chaise lounge in the shade, but decided I was sufficiently protected to lay in the sun, so I did.
In the background was whatever music was flowing from speakers all around the pool deck. It wasn’t very loud, so I couldn’t hear what was being played, but based on the continuous thumping of bass and drums, it was either a loop of some current song by Drake or the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams.”
To my left was a young woman lying facedown with a complexion so fair it was nearly clear. With red hair and even redder skin, the only proper protection from the sun for her would be flannel. I had a feeling she’d be mighty sore the rest of the day.
To my right was an attractive couple with olive skin like mine, but with flat bellies and the kind of tan you get by spending lots of time outdoors doing more than merely basking poolside.
There was a time when I was self-conscious about removing my t-shirt around other people. I have a scar on my stomach from an operation I underwent at age one that saved my life, but left me looking as an adult like I’d been in a back-alley knife fight. Add to that the still-visible marks from having my gall bladder laparoscopically removed a decade ago, not to mention the extra pounds I’ve put on this year, and you begin to understand my anxiety over exposing my gut.
As I said, I used to be concerned about that, but no more, because I’m now just a middle-aged, bald, fat guy no one actually sees. There’s no need to suck in my belly when an attractive young woman walks by either, because I’m invisible to her — and pretty much everyone under 35.
So, I pulled off my t-shirt, removed my sandals, lay back and opened the book.
Within a few minutes, a waitress appeared asking if I was thirsty. I told her I’d like a virgin banana daiquiri, but was disappointed when she informed me it couldn’t be virgin because the bartender didn’t have banana puree and would use banana rum instead. Since that defeats the virgin part, and I don’t consume alcohol, I told her I’d pass, but she replied that he did have raspberry puree, so I could have a virgin raspberry daiquiri.
I’ve always found that fruit to be a little too tart for my tastes, but it was hot and the drink would be icy, so I said okay. She asked for my room key and ID. I told her I didn’t have the latter, but could tell her my name and room number and she could find me in the cash register computer. She said she couldn’t do that because anyone could overhear someone else’s room information, so the policy was that customers had to show ID. I shrugged and told her I’d just have to go without a drink, and she moved on to the attractive couple.
Not long after, the waitress reappeared holding a cup full of a frozen red beverage for me, saying, “You have a secret admirer,” nodding her head in the couple’s direction. I accepted the drink, then committed a faux pas. I looked over and said to the male half of the twosome, “Thank you, sir!” At the same moment, I noticed the waitress handing the check and a drink to the female half, and realized it was she who had paid for my daiquiri. I blurted out something like, “I mean, uh, thank you, ma’am. I appreciate your generosity and I apologize for assuming this was on him.” She laughed and said no problem. She’d overheard my conversation with the waitress and thought the policy was silly — as if I’d gotten up that morning and plotted a way to steal a $10 drink from the hotel pool bar. She added that I deserved something cold to drink in this heat, and it was her pleasure.
I learned three things that afternoon. One, don’t presume that the guy’s in charge of the money. Two, always take your ID to a hotel pool. Three, raspberry daiquiris are terrible. I forced myself to drink a third of it so as not to seem ungrateful for the gift, but had a bad taste in my mouth the rest of the day.
Ah, well, at least I enjoyed the book and managed to get in a few laps in the pool.