Atlantic City Diaries, Chapter 23: Norm MacDonald at Harrah’s

Posted: July 22, 2015 by rorypatrick in Atlantic City Diaries
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With a marriage on the way, I swore that I would be reducing my trips to Atlantic City.  But then the Beerfest lured me.  Shortly after, there was the comic con.  And, of course, I had to have my bachelor party there.  But that’s it.  I was done.  No more silly drunken nights….

Then OB got free tickets to see Norm MacDonald at Harrah’s.

I have seen many, many stand-up comedy legends at Atlantic City over the years, but not Norm.  However, with the impending marriage, money is tight, and my luck has grown cold in Atlantic City over the last few trips (see the aforementioned Beerfest post for the bloody details).  So I set a few ground rules for myself before going down:

1. Stick to “voucher gambling”.  Getting shellacked at the tables does come with some benefits now and then, as I had a couple free bets to redeem.  Taking these vouchers, as well as the $25 credit you get when taking the bus, and I had small bankroll.  Enough to soothe the gambling beast, but not enough to spend the whole night.  So what else to do?

2. Drink.  It’s the cheapest way to kill time in Atlantic City.  Believe it or not, I felt somewhat “in control” my last few trips down (the wildest time being last summer).  This trip, I’d be testing my limits.

3. Go for the all-nighter.  As youngsters, OB and I would go down without a hotel room booked, and would stay up all night in Atlantic City.  However, as we progressed throughout our 20s, hotel rooms went from optional to necessary.  The last true all-nighter I pulled was way way back in Chapter 3.  Could I do it again?

So with the stage set, let’s see how I did sticking to the rules.

11:00AM – My goodness, the bus line.  Word of advice, folks – if you are taking the bus from Port Authority to Atlantic City, make sure to get there very early and know what gate you need to stand at.  During the busiest times, which seem to be Friday after work and Saturday morning, it will be mass pandamoneum.  Being the experienced bus veterans that we are, OB and I were promptly in line and had first row seats to the fracas as people who couldn’t make it on the 11 AM bus tried to cut into the 11:30 line.  There was mass screaming, and threats to call the “line police.”  I just put on my sunglasses to avoid making eye contact with anyone.  OB and I grabbed seats in the back, and let the drinking commence (I started with cheap-o whiskey, OB preferred Captain Morgan).

3:00PM – Checking into Harrah’s is a breeze (OB gets an upgrade to the junior suite!).  Now, we’re in the “killing time” zone.  It’s too early for dinner, and the show doesn’t start until 9:00PM.  Consulting the strategy, we opt for more drinking.  Switching up to red wine, we put on some music and OB orders some snacks.  Everything is going merrily.

4:00 – Still drinking red wine.

5:00 – Hey, I think there’s some whiskey left over from the bus.

5:30 – It happened.

In the 3 years of chronicling my trips to Atlantic City, it was bound to happen.  But who knew when?

I vomited from drinking.

While alcohol has attacked me in many other ways, vomiting is a rarity for me.  But going from whiskey to wine to whiskey was just too much for this little boy to handle.  The bathroom looks like a shot from Pyscho as I drunkenly try to restore order to the night.  Fortunately, my folly does not deter OB’s night at all.  With his coaching, I shake it off, rinse my mouth out and….

5:45 – Back in the game.

6:00 – Given that the “don’t gamble just drink” strategy is not without its flaws, we head down to the floor to get some of the gambling itch out of our system.  After a few short hands using free bet vouchers, I’m eliminated from blackjack.  I go over to play some slots with the bus voucher, leaving OB to play on his own.  However, OB does not last much longer, and we decide to recoup our losses at the buffet.

I’m not sure how many more times I can write about buffets in Atlantic City – this one was no more worse or better than the other ones in these Diaries.  I shoveled food into my mouth with the voracity of someone who had just emptied his stomach contents early that day.  For some reason, I am wearing my sunglasses throughout dinner, and I end up throwing a napkin at OB, which causes security to come over and make sure we aren’t causing any trouble.  After security is placated, we go back to the room and OB smashes my sunglasses.  So far, this is probably my favorite trip to Atlantic City ever.

9:00 – I’m starting to realize how oddly I plan my trips to Atlantic City.  I don’t go into these trips thinking, “What should we do in Atlantic City?”.  Rather, it’s more like, “What do we do until we can leave Atlantic City?”  With the latter thought it mind, seeing a show is always a must.  After a solid opener, Norm comes on around 9:45.  And, fortunately, he doesn’t leave.  The set is a little uneven, with some very tight and hilarious bits, some topical ramblings, and some jokes that hardcore Norm fans may have already heard.  It is not quite “comedy special” worthy, but it’s perfect for a couple hours away from the gambling floor.  At 10:55, he confesses that the show ended 25 minutes ago, and yet still performed for another 20 minutes.

11:30 – Determined not to head back to the room or the gambling tables, OB and I watch a live band performing at the Eden Lounge section of Harrah’s.  The music consisted of 70s rock covers and the dance floor consisted of two lonely cougars, which was really the exact amount of excitement OB and I could handle after 12 hours of drinking.  However, I guess we arrived too late, as the band retired after a handful of songs.  We decided to head back to the room to figure out a new way to spend the night.

2:00AM – OB is on the ropes.  He’s got a wobble to his gait, and he looks like he’s just taken a punch right between the eyes.  And then it happens.

OB vomits.

Yes, this is the ultra-rare double-vomit Atlantic City trip.  While OB attempts a rally, it is of no use, as it is clearly time to tap out.

However, I was determined to pull the all-nighter.  But, with no money to gamble, no friend to keep me company, and very little capacity left in my liver, how could I pull this off?

3:30 – I decide to take a stroll.  I take a circle through the X-Hibition bar in the center of Harrah’s casino, where the crowd clearly had been at the level of drunkenness I was much earlier in the day.  Combined with the loud music, it was a place I instantly had to leave.  After, I decided to venture to the Golden Nugget, only to find it eerily quiet, like an attic I shouldn’t be exploring in a horror movie.  Heading back to Harrah’s, I’m insanely tempted to hit an ATM to kill the time, but, I’ve seen this before:

I’m chasing the night.

It is clearly time to throw in the towel.  I’ve seen a show, I’ve had a ton of drinks, I’ve experienced the double-vomit.  Why push my luck?  Sure, I will be failing myself by not pulling the all-nighter, but perhaps I will learn from this.  Perhaps I will not mix my wine and whiskey so much.  Perhaps I will take a nap earlier in the day.  Perhaps I’ll just do the same trip again and hope something goes different (note: this is what will happen).

The morning comes, and neither of us feel particularly hung-over (in fact, I’m drinking a room-temperature Corona Light, much to OB’s disgust).  So reviewing my checklist: while I didn’t pull the all-nighter, I did drink and not gamble that much.  As Meatloaf once sang, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

And that’s probably it for the Atlantic City Diaries for the summer.  Unless, of course, Meatloaf is performing.  Can’t miss that.

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