As I write this, Anne is behind me, doing some workout video tape, and I can just hear the breathless voice of the girl who is leading the workout saying, “Oh yeah, oh yeah, doesn’t that feel good? Don’t stop, you’re almost there *pant* *pant*”
If I didn’t know any better, I’d think she was watching “Debbie Does 7 Minute Abs” or something…but anyway…
A few weeks ago, I did an interview for the 4th season DVD release of Star Trek: TNG. While I was at Paramount doing my interview, a friend of mine who writes for Star Trek: The Magazine asked me if she could talk to me about a special issue they were doing, focusing on the second season. I told her that I’d be glad to do the interview, if they’d put me on a mailing list, and send me issues of the magazine.
Hey, daddy needs to get nice things, you know?
So she said that’d be no problem, and we did the interview. It was really cool, and I won’t spoil it for you by talking about it here. It should be on the stands in a month or so.
On Friday, my first issue of the magazine showed up, and the whole thing is devoted to the first season of TNG. It focuses mostly on the behind the scenes aspects, with all these cool production drawings, interviews with the producers (Bob Justman says that “Wil Wheaton was always going to be our Wesley”), and a brief history of that first season.
Reading it really made me feel nostalgic, and I was flooded with wonderful memories from those years.
As I read it, I got to thinking…I have some unfinished business here…so, today, my dear Sunday reader, I am proud to give to you:
SPONGEBOB VEGA$ PANTS: SCREAM SPONGEBOB, SCREAM!
When we last left our intrepid hero, he had finished performing the highly anticipated “Mind Meld presents: Assimilate This!”.
With minimal rehearsal, with less than ideal performing conditions, and needing to pee for the last 30 minutes of the show, we had managed to pull it off. The crowd loved us, and would have made me cry, if I was not, as I have pointed out many times before, such a complete badass.
So, to pick things up…
The house empties out, and I run at mach 4 to the bathroom. When I get back into the ballroom, I get the most important review, of all. My wife comes up to me, puts her arms around me, and says, “Honey, you were great. I’ve never laughed so hard in my whole life.”
We stand in the ballroom for a few minutes, and I feel the familiar rush of left over adrenaline that I get at the end of every show. Even though it’s been a hellishly long day, and I’ve performed twice (once on stage with the sketch group, and once during my talk) I’ve got this massive surge of energy, and I must use it.
So we pack up the show, say goodnight to my parents, and head out into Vega$ for some drinks, some slots, some craps, and some fun. We can’t decide where we are going to go, because it’s a weekend, and most of the casinos have insanely high table minimums, and somehow we all end up at The Rio. Now, I’m not too crazy about The Rio, since they kicked out De La Guarda, which is, I think, one of the coolest and most unique shows I’ve ever seen. But we ended up there, anyway.
Travis and I were really hungry, and just wanted to get something to eat, and the rest of the gang just wanted to get a few drinks in them and throw some money away — er, I mean, gamble. So Travis and I head off to some 24 hour restaurant in the hotel (walking, of course, through the casino, then through more of the casino, and, finally, past some slot machines). The rest of the crew heads up to some club at the top of the hotel, which they later tell us is filled with poseurs, and I try to act surprised.
Travis and I talk about the show, and how it went. It’s funny when you get two actor/writers together. We did a really good show, and we were, and are, very proud of it…but we can only talk about the things that we didn’t like. We talk about the fact that I should have picked up a mic at the end of the show to say my thank yous and introduce the group. I was unhappy that I flubbed some lines, and could have had a funnier ad-lib here or there…but that’s the nature of being a perfectionist, I guess. It’s also the reason most of my shows are so good. I won’t allow myself to do anything less than my absolute best, and I am always pushing myself to be better.
So Travis and I deconstruct the show, talk about the possibility of taking it on the road, talk about how much fun we had, complain about how horrible the farking food is, and we head back to meet the rest of the gang, in the casino.
So, by now, it’s got to be close to 2AM, and that adrenaline buzz is wearing off. Remember when you were a teenager, and you’d just started hanging out all night? That first or second time you stayed up all night with your friends, watching the sun rise, thinking to yourself how cool it was that you were awake this late, never wanting the night to end? That’s how we all felt…but we’re all exhausted, and some of us have to fly home early the next morning. So we gamble a bit, I collect on a bet from Tracy Burns (she had to buy me a scotch. I forget why, now), and we say a teary farewell.
We all go our Separate Ways, seeking out our own Frontiers, filled with Lights, knowing that we’ll never Stop Believin’.
What happened there? Sorry.
Anne and I return to our we-would-never-get-this-if-we-were-paying-for-it suite at Bellagio, and fall asleep before our heads even hit the pillows.
The next morning, we get up, eat breakfast, and pack our bags. We’re going to stay the rest of the weekend, so we can attend the party at The Star Trek Experience on Sunday night, but we’re not staying at Bellagio any more. We’re moving to Monte Carlo.
I’ve decided to spend the day sitting in the Autograph room at the convention, so people who missed me the first two days can get their picture or autograph, and so I can hawk my friend’s CD. (if any of you were RFB listeners, before it went off the air, you may have heard me play them from time to time)
The thing is, it kind of sucks. I realize that I’m spending the entire day there, really to sign what amounts to less than 10 pictures, and I only convince 3 people that Warp 11 is really funny. I also know that 2 of our friends (Stephanie, who introduced me to Anne, and BURNS! who is one of our best friends) are on their way to meet us, so I decide that I’m done. I pack up, and screw up the courage to introduce myself to Alan Ruck, who played Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and was in some Trek movie, I guess. He is really cool, and as excited to meet me as I am to meet him, which always surprises me and makes me feel good.
I meet Anne, Steph, and BURNS! at the Monte Carlo, where I am discover what will be the theme for the remainder of our trip. That theme is “Who can be the most rude to Wil and his friends?”
Now, here is the thing. I am an extremely patient, understanding, forgiving person, when I am in a restaurant, or at the front desk of a hotel, or dealing with any person who works in the “service industry.” I figure that most people treat them badly, talking down to them, and stuff, and I really go out of my way to be extra nice, and patient with them. I also know that they may appreciate this, and hook a brother up with a free desert or something, so it’s not completely altruistic. Hey, at least I’m honest about it, preachy.
When we’re checking in, the girl who is checking us in is really cool. She’s sweet, friendly, helpful, and all the things you’d hope for. She tells us that we’re in some sort of suite, and I tell her that we were just at the Bellagio, and while we were staying in that suite they gave us some sort of VIP pass, for some lounge or something, and a buffet line pass.
Tangent: let me tell you, when you’re in Vega$ during a busy weekend, having that buffet or cafe line pass is GOLD. The last two times I’ve been in Vega$, which I hate, by the way, the lines for restaurants have been insane, and I would have sold my soul for a line pass. (Don’t get too excited. My picture’s been taken so many times, I don’t have any soul left)
End of Tangent.
So the girl tells me that she isn’t sure, but I can go and ask Casino Services if the suites at Monte Carlo come with the same pass as the suites at Bellagio. I cross the large lobby, and enter through some french doors to the Casino Services area. It’s a small room, with a lovingly handcrafted particle board desk, and two armed chairs. A pinched woman is sitting behind the desk, and she makes no effort to mask her obvious contempt for me as I approach her.
“Can I help you?” she sneers.
“Yeah,” I tell her, and proceed to explain the situation at Bellagio, and I ask her if Monte Carlo has a similar policy.
Although I am taller than her, and she is sitting at a desk, she somehow manages to look down her nose at me. She tells me, with complete disdain, “No, sir. Our Casino Premiums [you can hear in her voice that she capitalizes those words in her mind] are reserved for a certain caliber of guest.”
A certain caliber of guest?! Did she just say that?!
I take a second to imagine how hollow her life must be when she’s not sitting behind that desk, and I thank her for her time. Remember, I’m patient, forgiving and understanding.
I cross back to the check-in desk, and the girl asks me if the woman was able to help me. I tell her that she was not able to help me, and, in fact, insulted me. I tell her that when that woman told me that they “are reserved for a certain caliber of guest”, what she clearly communicated to me was that I was not of a certain caliber, and therefore not worthy of her time.
I was upset. Not because I didn’t get that magic card, I mean, that’s their policy, so that’s fine with me. I don’t expect preferential treatment, ever (well, unless I’m at Jumbo’s Clown Room, but that’s more like frequent flier miles, if you get my drift). What upset me was the way she talked to me. The way she treated me as if I was beneath her from the moment I walked in.
A manager has heard me relaying my story to the check-in girl, and she has joined the conversation. She apologizes many times, and asks me to wait a minute. She crosses to the Casino Services room, and I see her have a heated exchange with the woman behind the desk of power. She then returns, and gives me, Anne, Steph and BURNS! these cool VIP passes, which are good for lines, shows, and get us into some sort of lounge on an upper floor of the hotel. She apologizes many times, and implores us to enjoy our stay. I am impressed with her kindness, and for a brief second I bask in the customer service.
We head up to our room, Steph and BURNS! head off to meet one of our other friends, Jen, and Anne and I unpack, and take a nap.
Isn’t the weird? We take lots of naps in Vega$. I think it’s because we really like to stay out all night, or as close to all night, as we can. I think that staying out all night is part of the mystique of Vega$.
I wanna digress for a minute, and talk about the mystique of Vega$. See, I think that we all want to buy into the “romance” of Vega$. That thing that the city has, as portrayed in “Viva Las Vegas!” and “Swingers” and anything concerning the Rat Pack. We want to believe that it is the land of all-you-can-eat $2.00 buffets, where we are always one pull of the slot machine away from the Rainman suite. But the truth is, Vega$ is a sad, hollow, tragic monument to greed and excess, where parents dump their kids at the edge of the casino with some fast food while they get drunk and gamble. It’s a place where you’ll find more unemployed locals than tourists at a five dollar buffet, and it’s more like “Taxicab Confessions” than anything else. I can only take it for 48 hours at a time…and this time, I was there for 5 freakin’ days. However, it does have Nomi Malone, and Nomi’s got heat, so it’s not all bad.
So we take our nap, and we get ready for our big night out. We’ve got reservations at this restaurant that is supposed to be really cool, and I’ve even put on a clean shirt to go out.
Dinner at Chez Midlife Crisis!
The Roulette that ate my wallet!
The Star Trek Experience
When WWDN presents, Spongebob Vega$Pants: The Final Chapter!