Leah Kayajanian: What Happens in Vegas, OR I Trade My Expensive Phone for a Cheap Laugh about a Butthole

I’m in the bathroom of the boys’ hotel room, fully clothed and crumpled in the corner of the shower like a sack of sad oranges. I’m bawling my eyes out. My best friend John, drunk as I am and also dressed in his going-out clothes, sits facing me on the other side of the shower floor. I don’t know how long we’ve been in here.

“What are they doing?” I hear someone ask from the other room.

“They’re just sitting in there,” Rockey says. “You wanna see?”

For some reason, in the Cosmopolitan, the brand new hip Las Vegas hotel where we’re staying, there is a window next to the bed that looks directly into the shower—all you have to do is pull up a shade in order to see the various goings on of the bathroom. I can’t think of another function of this feature beyond “sexy shower time show” or “watching your frat buddies take a shit.”

My cheek pressed up against the glass of the window, tears streaming from my eyes, I watch the shade in front of me rising up, up, up, until I’m looking through the glass at Aimee, another bridesmaid, whose face reflects her obvious pity for me. Rockey just stares at me, unaffected, like I’m in a cage at the zoo.

“Great,” I say through sniffles. “Now Aimee feels sorry for me.”

“Put the shade down!” John yells. Rockey shrugs, waves, and closes the shade. We’re trapped alone in our box again.

“Did I ruin Jenny’s bachelorette party?” I blubber through sobbing tears.

John laughs in my face. “Of course not! She’s having a good time. You need to calm down.”

“Okay,” I say, then cry harder.

“Fine,” he says. “This is happening.” He reaches behind him to turn the nozzle on the shower, and a sudden jolt of cold water rains down on me.

I jump. “Why’d you do that?”

“I had to do something.”

“But it’s cold.”

“Hold on.” He turns around and moves the nozzle to adjust the temperature, and the water warms up. “That better?”

I hiccup. “Yes.”

John doesn’t leave me there alone, soaking wet and pitiful. Instead, he moves over and sits next to me under the stream of water. He still has his shoes on, and he doesn’t even bother to take his wallet or his phone out of his pocket. He just sits with his arm around me and talks to me about God-knows-what for an hour. That’s how long it takes for the hot water in the Cosmopolitan hotel shower to run cold again.

***

A few hours before our shower, I’m at the PBR Rock Bar on the strip with the rest of the bachelorette party. I’m wearing a new pair of stiletto pumps and a short blue dress that sort of makes me feel like a hoochie, but I’m in Vegas, and I just came from a night club called the Marquee that served 28-dollar drinks, so I’m operating under the impression that these sorts of things are allowed here. Plus, I had tried to leave the hotel room in something less body-tight, but the bride and the rest of the wedding party had insisted that I wear the ass-dress.

I can see my friends on the dance floor, chatting people up, dispersed in various directions around the club. I’m standing right next to the bar, sipping a gin and tonic, and arguing with a guy.

“Just because I’m dressed like this doesn’t mean you can treat me like that,” I say. I don’t remember why I’m saying it.

“Something douchey,” he says, and he walks away with his stupid face.

I don’t know for sure what triggered our little argument, but I’m completely convinced that it started because the guy had grabbed my ass, and I don’t stand for things like that. I walk over to Jenny, the bride, and loudly complain about it. I complain so much that she and Aimee go get a security guard to approach the guy, who is currently using his camera to videotape a couple of even-more-scantily-clad girls on a mechanical bull ride.

A few minutes later, Douchey McTool walks over to me and says, “Stop accusing me of shit I didn’t do.”

I just stare at him, genuinely confused.

He points over his shoulder. “I’m here with the Playmate of the Year right now, so why would I waste my time with you?”

I remember looking at the girl he’s pointing at and thinking, “Hmm, she’s a’ight. But a playmate?”

He walks away and Jenny comes up, concerned. “Did he apologize?”

“No,” I say. “He said he didn’t do it.”

“Well, did he?”

“Oh, great, now you don’t believe me.”

“I didn’t say that, Leah.” She looks in my eyes. “Hey, you’re not gonna let this guy ruin our whole night, are you?”

I glare at her. “Oh, sorry, Jenny. I don’t want to ruin your night.”

“No, that’s not what I mean. I mean don’t let him get to you because then you’re letting him win.”

I take a deep breath and go off on some sort of self-righteous rant about not standing for the way that certain men think they can treat women, about how everyone in Vegas seems to be a douchebag, how you can’t trust anybody. All the while, Jenny just stares at me and lets me rant because she’s a sweetheart and deserves a much better bridesmaid.

***

An hour passes after the real or imagined ass-grabbing fiasco, and now I can’t find my wallet. I, for one, believe Grabby McDouchecock took it, and I’m slowly convincing the rest of my party of the same thing. I now have four girls, a gay man, and the bartender hawkeyeing my old pervy friend from four different angles.

We’re planning an attack when Jenny walks up from behind me. “Oh my God, Leah,” she says, annoyed.

I turn around to see her standing there, all six-foot-three-in-heels of her, towering over me with her hand on her hip. In her other hand, she’s holding my missing wallet.

“Guess where I found this,” she says. “In the bathroom. On the toilet paper dispenser.”

I grab the wallet and open it up. Inside I find my license and credit cards, but no cash. “Shit,” I say. “Someone stole my money.” I turn back to the dance floor. “I bet it was that douchey guy.”

***

I sneak out of the bar without telling anyone I’m leaving and walk back to our hotel by myself, arms crossed over my chest clutching my wallet. It’s windy, and I’m freezing in my tiny dress. I’m still upset about the whole ass-grabbing thing, mostly because now I’m starting to doubt my own assessment of the situation. I know that guy’s not worth another second of thought, but I’m obsessing over this now, and I can’t move beyond it. Besides, it’s just something insignificant I can harp on instead of thinking about my real problem, the fact that I’m depressed, and I have no idea what to do about it. I’m desperate for distractions now, trying not to let it beat me, trying not to turn into the stereotypical “sad comic.” I’m trying to snap out of it. The problem is, I don’t even know what “it” is.

The last time I was depressed, my best friend Rockey called me a “worthless pile of goo.” It happened six years ago. We were sitting on an apartment stairwell during some lame party when he made the revelation.

I didn’t fight, just sat there in a crumpled heap and cried.

I figure it’s different now that I’m older. Instead of loudly declaring my misery, I keep it to myself because I know that no one wants to deal with my trivial problems. I let these things fester inside me all day long, keeping them locked away until I get fighting drunk. I pretend that I’m okay until the night comes, until some dumb guy does or does not grab my booty, and then I let all the bad pour out of me.

I’m lost in thought, only hearing the click-click of my heels with each step I take. A man on the street yells something about my ass, and I scream, “Why don’t you shut the fuck up?”

***

I open my eyes. I’m in the hallway outside my hotel room, comfortably sprawled out in the middle of the floor. I may have slept here all night had the hotel security guard not decided to wake me.

He’s blurry. “Miss,” he says. “Miss, where is your room?”

I try to focus on the room numbers nailed to the doors around me, but I’m all kinds of turned around. It takes me a good minute or so to realize that my room, in fact, is behind me, the door that I’m leaning on. Well shit, at least I had the decency to find the right door before passing out in front of it.

“Miss, do you have your room key?”

I shake my head.

“Well, can you call one of your friends?”

“Mmm,” I mumble, and I search the small space on the floor around me. I have my wallet, but not my phone. Let me rephrase that: I have my 2-dollar fake-leather wallet with my I.D., my check card with no money left in my account, and no hotel key, but I don’t have my iPhone, the one I’ve had for a month, the one that AT&T told me it would be 500 dollars to replace.

“My phone!” I yell, like I would yell my son’s name after he gets shot.

“Okay,” the guard says. He grabs my hand and attempts to pull me to my feet.

I yank my arm out of his grip.

“Miss, I’m just trying to help you.” He sighs. “Where are your friends?”

I point across the hall at the boys’ hotel room. All week I’ve been between the two rooms. I sleep in the girls’ room, get ready in the guys’ room. I drink in the guys’ room, brush my teeth in the girls’ room. I’m wandering back and forth between the two like an unsure transgender.

I let the guard help me up off the floor, and he props me up against the wall while he knocks on the boys’ door. Rockey answers after a minute, his hair plastered to one side of his head, the room behind him a dark cavern of peaceful slumber. He looks at the security guard, then looks at me. If he’s at all surprised that I’ve been escorted to his room, his expression doesn’t show it. He just shakes his head, verifies for the guard that I am, in fact, his friend and not a crazy prostitute, and pulls me inside.

***

The bachelorette girls return to our hotel, but John’s not with them. Rockey’s once-quiet room is now abuzz with drunken activity. Three people, none of them me, are trying to track down my phone. My friends, they’re calling the bar. They’re getting names of people to talk to in the morning. They’re calling and texting my phone, leaving 911 messages, and all the while, I’m just standing on the side of the room and pouting.

“I bet the ass bandit stole it,” I say. No one pays attention to me.

Rockey hangs up after trying to call my phone for the hundredth time. “It’s shut off,” he says. “I think you should go to bed, and we can call again tomorrow morning.”

“Great!” I say. “Just great!”

I tell them that they’re not really my friends. I tell them all that after I leave Vegas, I’m never going to talk to them again, that they never have to worry about me ruining any more of their fun vacations. I turn around and punch the ironing board behind me. It topples over, and an almost empty hotel glass of whiskey flies into the wall, shattering on impact.

I storm into the bathroom, slam the door, and sit in the corner of the shower.

Aaannndddd…scene. An Oscar-worthy performance.

“Just leave her in there,” I hear Rockey say through the shower window. “She’ll be fine.”

I don’t know how long I sit there before John comes back. I only know I’m alone in there before he comes in, and he sits with me even though he’s heard all about my little baby tantrum.

***

I used to go everywhere with John and Rockey. I hung out with them so much, I got pissed off and jealous when they went anywhere without me. They understood this about me and to this day, they invite me to go with them before they sneak off to take a shot of vodka from the bottle they stole, before they smoke the joint they bought off a stripper, before they ditch everyone else to hit up a gay club or a casino, or any place, really, because they’re the type of people that could make traffic court fun.

John and Rockey are the two funniest people I’ve ever met in my life, and though it’s what I love about them, it’s recently contributed to my ever-growing need-to-be-funny complex. For months now, I’ve felt like I have to prove to everyone over and over again that I am, in fact, a funny person. It’s why I get mad when I tell people I’m a comedian, and they say, “You?” All surprised. “You don’t seem like the type of person that would be a comedian.”

“Oh, really? Because I’m not funny?” I say.

“Well…” and then they trail off because my confrontational nature makes them feel awkward.

The weird thing is, I never used to care who was funnier than me. I never even thought about it. All I knew was that I loved hanging out with my two best friends. I loved that we could make each other laugh. Some of my favorite college memories are of me, Rockey, and John sitting in my garage for hours at a time, smoking weed and cigarettes, not doing our homework, and cracking each other up.

I didn’t keep score back then. I didn’t mark down every time each one of us got a laugh. I didn’t think of our time together as some sort of weird competition where I have to make people think I’m funny.

I wonder now about the state of my life, about my sense of humor, about my comedy, and I miss my friends even though they’re here with me. I miss the days when I didn’t worry about being hilarious all the time, when I only worried about being myself.

I wonder now when the hell being funny became so serious.

***

After a hangover-miserable breakfast with the girls and a string of my profuse apologies, I go to the boys’ room, knock on the door until Rockey answers, walk in without a word, and curl up on the bed next to John, who is just waking up.

“Rockey, make me a mimosa,” John says.

“No,” Rockey says. “I made the drinks the last time.”

“Make me one, too,” I say.

“Well, someone needs to get ice,” Rockey says.

“I’m not doing it,” I say.

“Me neither,” John says.

“I got ice last time,” Rockey says.

“Rockey, just make us a drink!”

“No,” he says. But he gets up and starts making them anyway.

Once we’re all sitting in bed with drinks in our hands, we stare at the basketball game on T.V. even though I’m the only one who even remotely cares about the score. There’s a noticeable lull in the conversation.

“Guys,” I say. “I think I’m depressed.” It’s the first time I’ve said this out loud.

Rockey laughs.

“Rockey!” John says. “You’re not supposed to laugh at your best friend when she says she’s depressed.” John almost has a Ph.D. in Behavioral Psychology, so he knows these things.

“I was laughing at the commercial,” Rockey says.

John shakes his head. “You’re an idiot.”

I sip my drink. And then I start talking. I tell them everything I’m afraid of, everything that’s on my mind. It’s nice to put all my shit out there in the open instead of pretending I’m fine. And once I start talking about these things, I start to realize what’s wrong, that it all comes down to pressure, the type of crippling pressure that I place on myself as a result of my interactions with other people.

Pressure from people who don’t think I’m funny. From men who have decided that I’m now hot and no longer look like a raging dyke. From people I’ve known for years who suddenly decide to tell me they’re in love with me. From people who want to hang out with me before I move to L.A. From people that call me and insist I do this or do that, from people I don’t like who keep demanding my time, from people that I do like who abandon me when I need them the most. Pressure that comes from putting all your feelings out in the open on a blog, in a joke, on a stage, living your life right there for the whole world to see and judge you from it.

Pressure to save up enough money to move, to find a job, to be consistently happy while I’m doing it, and to be a good friend, a good human being, a good employee, a decent person, hilarious, and not insane all at the same time.

I realize that I’ve become the type of person that gets too caught up in my life to enjoy it, and I hate that. And it needs to stop. Right now. I need to get back to that place where a younger me used to live, a place where I wasn’t too depressed to enjoy the company of my two best friends, a few of the handful of people in the world who love me when I’m not funny, who don’t expect anything from me: the people who have always loved me and who will always love me, even when I’m a worthless pile of goo, bawling in a shower with my slutty clothes on.

***

“God, I have to pee,” I say.

It’s our last night in Vegas, and we’re walking back to our hotel after playing blackjack for three hours. John and Rockey had lost a couple hundred each. I only lost 40 dollars, so my net loss for the last 24 hours is 100 bucks and an iPhone.

“Cards!” John yells, and he runs over to an orange-vested street guy. Rockey and I follow close behind, our eager hands held out like anxious children on Halloween.

Despite our combined losses, we’re in good spirits. The three of us are running down the sidewalk collecting naked lady trading cards from the skeezy people handing them out. See, on the strip in Vegas, there are people in orange vests who line the sidewalks, standing approximately 40 feet apart. They hand you small cards advertising naked female escorts for unbelievable prices—Dusty for only $35, Mandy for $47, Tammy, the upper-class whore, for $150. During my entire stay in Vegas, I have not seen one person actually reach out and grab these cards from these poor orange-vested people.

Until today. I don’t know whose idea it is, but John, Rockey, and I have decided to collect as many cards as possible so that we can spread them out on the table and trade them over dinner in our hotel.

As we walk past the Flamingo, John starts reading off a few of his names. “Ooh!” he says. “I got Jessica with the alien boobs!”

“I got lesbians!” I say. “Cristy and Samantha.”

Rockey stops walking and holds up one of his cards like it’s the original scripture. “Well I got a no-name, but it’s a butthole shot!”

And I laugh harder than I’ve laughed in months. I laugh so hard, in fact, I pee in my pants a little, right there in front of the Flamingo on the Las Vegas strip.

Rockey, Leah and John circa 2002

Rockey, Leah and John circa 2002 – Photo courtesy Adair Fincher

(c) Leah Kayajanian All rights reserved. Comment below to get in touch with Leah!

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