That time I almost blinded myself: The most epic staring contest of all time

Don’t you hate it when there’s something in your eye and it stings and itches and you can’t seem to get it out and your eyes begin to water?  That happened to me at work the other day and I was pretty much almost crying in my office.  I know you’re not supposed to rub your eyes, but sometimes I can’t help it because they get really itchy.  Damn allergies.  Also for a long while, my eyes would water every morning as I waited for the bus because the air and the weather were so cold that they had that effect, so it would look like I was just crying when really my eyes would just end up physically watering as a reaction to the cold.  Apparently this happened to my sister recently and some guy went up to her and asked if she was okay, because it looked like she was crying.

Anyway, this all made me think of the time when I went to the Bloggers in Sin City conference in Las Vegas a couple years ago.  It was less of a conference, and more of a get together where I got to do a lot of fun Vegas things and meet an awesome bunch of people who love social media as much as I do.  It was the second day of the conference, and we had our own private party welcome mixer at Serendipity 3, across from the Flamingo.  There were lots of appies and drinks.  And also games.  Because of course with a group of strangers, you’re going to have some sort of ice breaker type thing.  I remember we had to pair up and give our partners 8 second hugs.  I’m not a hugger, but the hugs were good.  The hugs are not what almost destroyed me.  What happened after the hugs was.

Serendipity 3

Serendipity 3

We had a staring contest.  I’m sure most of you have had staring contests at some point in your life.  Because it’s a stupid thing that we do because we can.  Mostly as children, but why not as adults?  But this wasn’t just your average staring contest.  It was literally the most intense staring contest, or possibly contest of any kind, that I’ve endured.  There were prizes at stake.  And good prizes too.  There were 68 of us, and with the exception of the organizers, we were all assigned a competitor to begin with.  Each group would have a stare off, and the winner of that pair would then move on to face another worthy opponent, and so on and so forth until one of us would emerge victorious.

Now, I’m not very good at a lot of things, competitively speaking.  I am terrible at sports.  And pretty terrible at video games too.  I can do decently at a few boardgames.  What sucks is that despite my lack of skill, I’m still a fairly competitive person.  I love winning.  Because who doesn’t?  Don’t we all want to be winners?  Since I have zero athletic ability, maybe this was my time to shine.  Staring?  I was good at that.  Hell, I stare all the time.  Sometimes I space out and don’t even realize I’m staring.  And blinking is so overrated.  I could totally do this, no problem.

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I fared quite well against my first few opponents.  My eyes were open far longer than theirs.  Finally, something I was good at.  I kept on going, beating every competitor who dared to stare into my eyes, for I stared back into theirs even harder.  They were simply no match for my supreme staring ability.  And then, there was Larissa.

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I didn’t really peg her for someone who was so competitive.  Nor did I peg her for someone who could or would make me cry.  But she was, and she did.  Maybe I had gotten a little too cocky by this point and had just instilled myself with a false sense of confidence?  Maybe I had strained my eyes a little at this point from all the previous stare offs?  Maybe Larissa was just a superhuman who doesn’t blink like a normal human being?    All these things would eventually lead to my downfall.

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We stared at each other like no one has ever stared before, our eyes piercing into one another’s as if seeing deep into our souls.  Perhaps she enacted some sort of gaze mind control trick, I can’t be too sure.  Minutes passed by and neither of us showed signs of blinking.  We had our game faces on and would not give in without a fight, no matter how painful.  And it was, indeed, painful.  As the minutes added up, my eyes eventually began to sting.  They were not meant to remain open for this long without blinking.  But no pain, no gain, right?  I could push through this.

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And then came the water works.  Tears began to stream down my face.  No, more like pour.  Rivers just pouring out of my eyes.  But still, I did not blink.  People watched in horror at this spectacle.  Larissa yelled at me to blink, partly because she wanted to win, and partly because I think she was genuinely concerned and slightly horrified that I was literally crying right in front of her.  I was a mess.  And so was my face.  I’m pretty sure I lost more tears that day than on any other day of my life.  At one point, I thought I saw Larissa blink but I was mistaken.  I’m pretty sure I couldn’t see clearly at that point anyhow.  But still I stared on, doing everything in my power to keep my eyes open, despite every fibre of my being telling me I needed to blink.  But as more time passed, I just couldn’t take it anymore, and I offered up a single blink.  It looked like I was crying because I lost, but really my tear ducts were just still messed up from my lack of blinking.  Larissa went on to the final round, beating out Kitty and winning the whole damn competition.  I can’t remember what it was exactly that she won.  I think it was a gift card and some cell phone stuff.  Like good tech stuff.  I tried to forget, since I was clearly envious.  The whole ordeal had been a lot harder for me than it had been for her, and yet she reaped the rewards.

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After my defeat, I had to sit for a while.  I know, it wasn’t like it was physically draining activity in terms of strength, but I was still a bit out of it.  And I couldn’t see properly.  Like my vision was really blurred.  I pride myself on having perfect vision and I was worried I may have jeopardized this all for a silly contest.  I made my way to try and find the bathroom, and the staff clearly though I was drunk, because I was out of it and stumbling and my makeup was all messed up.  Little did they know that this was because I couldn’t see properly.  I did my best to wipe away the last of the tears and to salvage my makeup and to gain my vision back.  Luckily, I managed to do so.

I don’t know if it’s possible to permanently damage your vision from excessive eye strain or lack of blinking, but I was so paranoid afterwards, especially when time had passed and my vision was still blurred.  Thankfully, it all went back to normal eventually and I vowed never to jeopardize my eyes like that ever again.  But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t secretly dream of a rematch in which I vowed revenge took back the glory that should have been mine…

Meeting strangers in Vegas

<—–Previous Vegas Post

Bloggers in Sin City, Day 1

Upon my arrival at The Flamingo, I proceeded to spend the remainder of the day meeting more people and drinking.  Because those two things go hand in hand, do they not?  This was probably the first time I have ever hung out with a large group of people, none of whom I knew previously, and actually felt comfortable.  We talked as if we were old friends.  I’m not saying that I wasn’t awkward, because it’s safe to say that I probably definitely was.  But I’m always awkward so that’s nothing new.  I was already friends with a lot of them on Facebook, and some of them recognized me from updating my status all the time everyday.  But since they’re all social media fanatics as well, no one was judging me for it.  A couple people also recognized me as the girl who loved shoes.  Apparently when I posted about Army & Navy, some of them thought I was actually buying army boots at some sort of military store.  I had to clarify and explain what Army & Navy really was.

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Carlo & Charlie’s

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Mango margaritas

It was happy hour at Carlos and Charlie’s when I arrived, so perfect timing.  New friendships were made and margaritas were drank.  Larissa pretended it was Tom‘s birthday so that the waitress with the big boobs would come over and pour shots in his mouth.  And she did.  And it was awesome.

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New friends

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Happy hour

When it was time to check in, I met Megan, who I would be rooming with for the first and last day of our stay.  Being the awesome person that I am, I used my Total Rewards card in order to get ahead in line.  We went back down to Carlos & Charlie’s and had some awesome quesadillas.

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Quesadilla Charlie’s

At one point, we all seemed very depleted and worn out and we weren’t sure why.  We were also all very on edge and upset about the fact that our phones were all dying.  It would appear that when you’re a social media buff and your phone battery is drained, your energy level may also become drained.  The solution?  A phone charging party, naturally.  And so a bunch of us got together in the hotel room to charge our phones, and as we did, we too slowly regained our energy.

My original plan was to go see strippers that night.  Because why would I not go see strippers that night?  But I wasn’t feeling it.  Shocking, I know.  There were only a few people who had originally wanted to go and the strippers we wanted to see were all the way on the opposite side of the strip.  I mean maybe if I had more energy at the time I would have been all for it, but I decided my first night would be better spent wandering around our side of the strip and meeting more awesome new people.  Besides, I had already seen Thunder From Down Under last year in Vegas and again this year in Vancouver.  I’m thinking once a year should be what I aim for.

Instead, a few of us wandered around the strip and walked down to The Venetian where we contemplated taking a gondola ride but decided against it.  We walked past Madame Tusseauds wax museum, where we took pictures with The Rock and Justin Timberlake.  Next time I’m in Vegas, I want to actually go inside and take pictures with all the celebrities.

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The Venetian

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The Rock

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Group shot with JT

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Obviously I needed a solo shot too

We later met up with others at Centre Cut Steakhouse in the Flamingo for martinis and bacon.  Because who doesn’t love martinis and bacon?  Especially when there’s three different kinds of bacon.

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Pomegranate lemon martini

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Trio Bacon Satay

More people showed up as the hours went by.  The group from DC took a limo from the airport, which somehow may have ended up being cheaper than the shuttle I took.  I was jealous.  Eventually I met Kitty and another Megan, who were my other roommates for the night.  I think I ended my night watching TV and eagerly anticipating what the rest of the trip had in store for me.

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Interterminal Issues

<—–Previous Vegas Post

So I’ve decided to sporadically write my posts about Vegas whenever I feel like it, in between posts about various other things.  At this rate, I’ll still be writing them in the winter.  But whatever.  That works for me.  Bloggers in Sin City was just full of so much stuff that I feel like I need to write like ten posts about it at least.

When I arrived at the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas in May, I was supposed to meet up with Jessica, a fellow blogger who I had never met, because our flights arrived ten minutes apart.  So it made sense that we could just meet up, and make our way to the Flamingo together.  Simple, right?  Or so we thought.

I picked up my luggage at baggage claim 26.  Jessica was at baggage claim 10.  This is where the confusion began, because wherever Jessica was, the numbers only went up to 16.  How was this possible?  I was clearly at baggage claim 26.  Had I entered some magical world like how Harry Potter goes to platform 1 and 3/4?  I didn’t recall having ran through any walls or anything, so that couldn’t be it.

photoAnd that’s when we realized that we were at different terminals.  Curse the Las Vegas airport for being so damn big.  So we brilliantly decided to take the interterminal shuttles to meet each other.  So we both went to the shuttles and got on them.  At the same time.  Going in opposite directions.  It was too late to turn back.  So I believe Jessica simply stayed on her shuttle and took a round trip to meet me back at terminal 1.  Or was it 3?  I don’t even know anymore.  And yes, this was all as confusing as it sounds, possibly more so.

We wandered a bit and eventually had to go ask someone where the hell the hotel shuttles were.  Upon finding them, we patiently waited until it came time to board.  And then patiently waited while it drove oh so very slowly around the strip, proceeding to drop off every other passenger but us.  Not only were we the last to get to our hotel, the driver even stopped to pick up people to take back to the airport before finally dropping us off at The Flamingo.  Actually, she dropped us off a block away from the Flamingo because of “construction” or whatever.  We hoped that this experience would not be indicative of the rest of our time in Vegas.  It was unfortunate that our shuttle ride took so long, but if I was going to have to spend a ridiculous amount of time getting from the airport to the hotel, I’m sure as hell glad that time spent was with Jessica because she made it awesome.

Next Vegas Post—–>

Leaving for Las Vegas

<—–Previous Vegas Post

On May 15th, I hopped on a plane to go to Vegas for Bloggers in Sin City.  I took a giant suitcase that I didn’t actually fill up.  Because clearly I needed to make sure there was ample extra space in there for any and all purchases I might possibly probably definitely make while I was there.  I had done this before.  I knew what I was doing.  My dad was nice enough to drive me to the airport, which was great because I didn’t want to have to spend money on a cab before going, as I knew I’d likely be spending a lot of money on cabs in Vegas.  And taking public transit with a giant suitcase, a carry on, and a giant purse?  Doable, but not at all ideal.

I went through bag check, security, and customs pretty quickly.  A lot faster than I was used to in the past.  It seemed so much less stressful to travel alone, with no one pestering me about whether I have everything or warning me not to lose things or making sure we’re on time.  Why did it take me this long to actually take a trip by myself?  It’s something I would totally like to do more often.

Guess who got “randomly selected” for a pat down at security?  Yeah, I’m used it.  Although at this point I’m pretty sure there’s nothing random about it.  My friend asked me if it was a hot guy doing the pat down.  Nope.  Instead, it was an old Filipino lady.  She gave me a choice and said I could either go into that large scanner booth, or get a pat down.  I opted for the pat down.  Then she asked if I wanted the pat down to be done in the private booth.  I said no, I was fine just doing it there.  I wanted witnesses.  Something about the need for a private booth made it seem like there would be more than just a pat down.  If it isn’t enough that your shoes are already off, they make you lean against the wall, bend over, and let them look under your feet as well.

Customs was better than security.  When the guy asked me what I was going to Vegas for, I said “A blogging conference.”  And then he asked what that meant.  He was like “Is that just like a let’s all meet up in Vegas thing?” and I said yes.  And then he asked me what I blogged about.  I believe my answer was something like “Just random stuff.”  I wanted to say “I blog about awkward interactions with airport customs agents,” but I somehow felt that would not be the best response.

I was really bored while waiting for my flight, so I decided to text people and browse the internet.  Because that’s what an iPhone is for, right?  But the battery life on that thing is so shitty that I had to stop at some point or else it would have been drained before I even got on the plane.  There was an “Everything under $20” store right by my gate.  Because of course there was.  Why wouldn’t they want to entice me to start spending money before even getting to Vegas, where I would inevitably be spending even more money?  I resisted for a while then decided to take a look.  Apparently “everything under $20” means, everything is $19.99.  I decided to save my money for more important things.  Like food and drinks and slot machines.

I flew with West Jet, which I thought was supposed to be a good airline.  But for the first time ever, there were no TVs and not even any music on the flight.  I mean understand that it was a short flight so there wasn’t much point in beginning to watch a movie.  But I expected little TV screens with the option to watch a show.  Nope.  Despite my disappointment, the flight went smoothly and I arrived when I was supposed to.

And now I’ll stop boring you with the unnecessary details of my flight and proceed to actually talk about Vegas.  You know, when I feel like it.

Next Vegas Post—–>

Bloggers in Sin City 2013

Last year, I came across a post on Laura’s blog Red Lips and Academics.  I had never met Laura, but I enjoyed reading her blog.  In this particular post, she had mentioned going to Vegas for a blogging conference.  I thought that sounded pretty cool, so I decided to look into it further.  And then I forgot about it.  And then months went by and I saw stuff about it again popping up on my Twitter feed.  And I began to debate as to whether or not I should sign up.

The event was called Bloggers in Sin City.  Essentially, 68 strangers meet up in Vegas for three days.  Did I want to be one of them?  I did.  I really did.  But then I thought about my finances and whether or not it was for me.  I’ve never been the type of person to be all social and join things.  I hate being forced to bond with people.  Whenever it happens, I always tend to rebel.  But this would be different.  No one was forcing me to go.  If I decided to go, it would be my own decision.  I looked through the registration page to see who the attendees were.  And they all seemed pretty cool. They blogged, they loved social media, they seemed to share my sense of humour, and they just all sounded like really nice people.  Why would I not go?  I love Vegas, so why not?

badge-2013And so I registered.  Well, I tried to register.  And somehow failed.  So I emailed Nicole, who’s been organizing the event for five years, and we figured out my payment method and it was done.  I wrote up my bio, looked through the itinerary, and then spent several months in eager anticipation.  And then freaked out trying to figure out my flight and all those fun details.  This was my first time trip traveling alone.  As an adult, anyway.  When I was like 11 or something, I went to visit my aunt and uncle in Halifax, and I had to wear a sign around my neck that said “unaccompanied minor” so that people would help me out.  But this time, I was going it alone.

It was a mix of excitement and confusion when I told people that I was going.  Some people would be like “Wow, that’s so brave of you to go to this on your own.” and others would be like “Wait, you don’t know anyone there?  Why are you going?”  I don’t really expect most people to understand.  And that’s okay.  It’s not like I went because I’m so Vegas obsessed and couldn’t find anyone to go with me.  There are people I could have gone with.  But this was more than just a Vegas trip.  It was an experience and I got to meet a bunch of cool people who I wouldn’t otherwise know existed.  And I’m really glad I did.

vegaI spent five nights in Vegas on this trip.  Which seems like a lot.  For Vegas.  I mean I suppose there’s only so much day drinking, overeating, and partying that a person can take.  But the time just went by and I enjoyed every minute of it.  It was filled with all sorts of epic things that I will never forget.  We spent the first day drinking at the Flamingo and meeting people as they arrived.  The next day, we got VIP bags and lanyards and played an awesome game of Cards Against Humanity.  We had a welcome mixer at Serendipity 3, complete with food, drinks, 8 second hugs, and the most intense staring contest I have ever participated in.  We drank and danced at Margaritaville to a band playing 80’s music.  One of the best Thursday nights I’ve had.

On Friday, we had a pool party at the Flamingo.  I don’t even know how to describe it other than it was awesome.  For dinner, we went to the Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood, where there was so much food I could hardly contain myself.  Then we went to see “O” by Cirque du Soleil, which had a lot of crazy diving stunts by amazingly talented performers.  After that, some of us went out and danced at a shitty club but at least it was a shitty club in Vegas.

viewOn Saturday, we had a breakfast buffet at the Flamingo, and then I went to Minus 5 Ice Bar at the Monte Carlo.  We had another buffet that night at Paris and the night ended with a rooftop party on top of Pure nightclub.  Actually the night didn’t end there, it ended after following that up with clubbing at Act at the Venetian, and then getting lost trying to find our way out of the Venetian.

On Sunday, we had our fourth and final buffet and started saying our goodbyes.  There were strong bonds and friendships made that weekend and no one wanted it to end.  I went to In-N-Out Burger for the first time.  I had a cheese plate at Otto at the Venetian.  That day was filled with a lot of food and a lot of feelings.

wigsI’m really glad I went and that I got to meet so many great people.  This was the fifth and final year of the event, which I’m really sad about.  I should have found out about it sooner.  But some of us were talking about how there’s no reason we can’t just all end up in Vegas together at the same time next year, even if it’s not officially for Bloggers in Sin City.  I will post more later about specific things that happened in Vegas.  Because I can.  Because I want to relive them.  Because what happens in Vegas ends up getting blogged about.  And now I’m sitting here in my post-Vegas depression.  I’m not sure how long it will last but I’m beginning to think that the only cure is to go back to Vegas.

Next Vegas Post—–>

I saw male strippers with my grandma

Yeah, so the title of this post is self explanatory.  But I’m guessing you want details?  Like how and why?  More like how awesome was it and why did it take this long for me to write about it?

Thunder From Down Under

Obviously this appealed to me

While in Vegas, I went to see seven shows.  Thunder From Down Under was one of my favourites.  We were looking through the different shows that we could potentially go to and trying to organize our time, figuring out which days we would do what.  I was staying at the Luxor, which has a connection to the Excalibur.  They had a deal at these hotels where you can attend two of their shows for $75.  So naturally, I went for this deal.

I wore my best looking shoes to the show

I wore my best looking shoes to the show

I commented on how I wanted to see it, and to my surprise, my grandma said she would go with me.  I had to make sure she was serious.  She was.  I wanted my cousin to come too, but she was only 18 at the time.  But lucky for us, 18 year olds are allowed to go as long as they are accompanied by an adult over the age of 21.  Done and done.

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My cousin and I, awaiting the show

We had some time before the show started, so my cousin and I went back to our respective hotels to get ready while my grandma did some more gambling.  Before we met up to go in, my grandma asked someone where the Thunder From Down Under Showroom was.  Apparently they replied with, “YOU’RE going to Thunder From Down Under?”  To which she replied, “Yes, I’m going with my granddaughters,” in a way that suggested that it was a perfectly normal thing for her to be doing.

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They’re so good, they have their own Showroom

My cousin and I were so excited for the show.  The novelty of it wasn’t so much the fact that we were going to see strippers.  It was the fact that we were going to see strippers with our grandma.  Who does that?  Who else can say that they’ve done that?  I’m probably the only person who can say she saw male strippers with her 18 year old cousin and her 79 year old grandma.  And more importantly, that I enjoyed seeing male strippers with my 18 year old cousin and my 79 year old grandma.

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My grandma bought me a thunder cocktail

My grandma’s awesomeness does not stop with the fact that she agreed to come with us.  She also bought me a drink.  And not just any drink.  A giant fishbowl drink.  I was still trying to finish it at the end of the show.

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My giant fishbowl drink

This was my first time at a male strip show.  Because sadly, there are no male strip clubs in Vancouver.  At least none that I am aware of.  Are there?  In Nevada, apparently there’s a law where they’re not allowed to remove everything.  So no full frontal.  But my grandma mentioned to us that back in her day, they took everything off.

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Me and my fishbowl

Before the show started, there were videos on the screen with various clips of the men from Thunder From Down Under.  In one of them, it showed them all hanging out in their dressing rooms, and one guy was playing guitar, and one of them was straightening the other guy’s hair.  I was like is that what they do when they hang out?  Sit around straightening each other’s hair and serenading each other on the guitar?

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Our seats weren’t half bad

Like any good male strip show, there was a fake orgasm contest, where the host brings three ladies onstage to do their best fake orgasm to win prizes.  I’m kind of glad I didn’t get picked for that.  It would probably be horrifying to have to do that in front of my cousin and my grandma.  And I’m even more grateful that neither of them went up.  I can’t even imagine.

It was thrilling walking through those doors

It was thrilling walking through those doors

I loved their dance numbers.  And their bodies.  It’s actually quite intimidating how insanely in shape they keep themselves.  There were a bunch of times when they would invite a girl on stage to get some private one on one time with one of the guys.  Sadly, I was not chosen.  It’s usually girls who are there for bachelorette parties and birthdays that get to go up.  Or whichever girl screams the loudest.

It was all so exciting

It was all so exciting

They don’t stay onstage for the entire time.  Sometimes they come around out into the audience.  Which was great for us because we had a couple of them pass by our table a few times.  One guy came around and he gave my grandma a hug and he gave my cousin a hug.  But he completely ignored me.  I was feeling rather neglected.  But the later, another guy came by and sat on my lap.  So it was all good in the end.

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The Showroom

After the show, you get the chance to get your picture taken with the guys onstage.  No, sadly my grandma did not get one taken.  But she gave my cousin and I $20 each to get them for ourselves.  Would your grandma give you money to go sit on a stripper’s lap?  Yeah, didn’t think so.

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Next time, I’m buying some merchandise

They showed us different poses that they could do with us.  For one of them, they said it was for your ex-boyfriends, and they were all giving the finger.  My cousin, being the classy girl that she is, decided to choose that one.  So she, along with the guys, are all giving the finger to the camera.  She said it was a message to all the guys who have hurt her, that the Thunder From Down Under guys support her.  I thought that was pretty awesome.

Girl's night outback. How clever.

Girl’s night outback. How clever.

I went for something a little less harsh, and just positioned myself across their laps.  Still keeping it classy as always.  Clint, the guy with the pink hair greeted me on the stage and said he liked my outfit.  He was my favourite.  He had dyed his hair pink to show support for breast cancer awareness.  I also liked Matthew, the guy who hosted it.  At the end, he does some stripping himself, which is awesome.  And then I sat on the young guy’s lap and we talked about how they had done a show at the River Rock the previous year and how I’m from Richmond.  I was still talking to him and didn’t even realize my time was up.  I totally could have sat there longer…

My classy as hell photo

My classy as hell photo

Because we’re awesome, we checked our coupon books for coupons for a free poster from the merchandise shop.  But in all our excitement, we forgot to claim them.  Luckily our hotels were right near the Excalibur, so we went back to get what was rightfully ours.

Yay for free posters

Yay for free posters

There was a 9:00pm show and an 11:00pm show.  We went to the early one.  Grandma likes to party, but she still needs to be in bed at a reasonable hour.  You have the opportunity to get your photos and posters signed at the end of the show, but for some reason we didn’t.  But I was determined not to miss out.

Woo hoo

Woo hoo

After leaving my grandma and my cousin and going back to my hotel, I went back to the Thunder From Down Under Showroom to wait.  I dropped stuff off in my room first and my dad asked me where I was going since it was quite late by that time.  I informed him I was going to go get my stuff signed by strippers and went on my way.

Waiting to get my merchandise signed

Waiting to get my merchandise signed

I had to wait a while.  A lot of girls from the second show were getting their photos taken, and taking their time doing so.  But it was well worth the wait.  What’s better than a Thunder From Down Under photo and poster?  A signed Thunder From Down Under photo and poster.  Plus further interaction with the guys, however minimal it may have been.  I made sure I was visible enough in the crowd to push through and get each one of their signatures.

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Is it worth more because it’s been signed?

This experience was probably the most memorable of the trip.  And one of my most memorable experiences in general.  For some, Vegas may be all about getting wasted in some high end nightclub.  But for me, it was all about strippers with my grandma.