I’ve never felt older than I did this weekend.
I’m 33. It’s an age where old people will roll their eyes at you when you say you’re old, but young people absolutely do not claim you. I guess you could say that about any age but 33 is the age I am and I’m the one talking so everything is about me. The point is that I don’t feel like a kid anymore and it’s never been more clear than it was the last few days.
Starting on Wednesday morning I was doing things that are very out of sorts for me. For starters I made an 8 AM flight out of JFK. That meant that I had to be up at 5:30 and guess what, I didn’t even need an alarm clock because I had pizza for dinner the night before that gave me such horrible heartburn that I woke up at 3 AM and just stayed awake until my flight to Vegas. Reading. Then I brought that book on the plane and read it there too. Old.
What did I do my first night in Vegas? Went to see a show. That’s how people with kids talked to their friends about Vegas in the 90s in order to hide their gambling problem, “Oh no no it’s not just casinos anymore. The food is spectacular! The shows are to die for! It's a whole experience!” Well I really went to see a show. I saw Cirque du Soleil’s “O” at the Bellagio and I fell asleep during a live performance where people are lit on fire because I was exhausted from traveling, which I didn't realize was actually a thing. Old.
Thursday brought a new hell, athletics. I loved playing hockey and I still do, but each time the reminders that I’ve lost a step get less and less subtle. Stickhandling gets a nanosecond slower, the strides get heavier, and every time someone goes to take a shot instead of an instinct to block it a full surgery and rehab flash before your eyes. Reaching over your stomach to tie your skates has become borderline impossible, after a game you find bruises in places that you don’t even remember getting hit, and your groin gets so tight after one shift that it feels like a sneeze could rip you in half. I even woke up with hands that felt arthritic because I guess they're just not used to simply holding a stick? I honestly don't know about that one. Old.
That night, after a nap, I went out to a Chiclets party at Red Tail in Resort World (all those capitalized words look like total nonsense out of context). I brought my parents. It was casual and we played pop-a-shot and chatted up some folks. When my parents called it a night I got a text that my energy was needed in the karaoke room. I obliged and stormed in, singing a variety of my favorite songs (Jonas Brothers “I’m Hot,” Taylor Swift “Our Song,” and Natasha Beddingfield “Unwritten”). All of which are 15-20 years old and after I lost my voice on account of the karaoke I Irish goodbyed because my head hurt too badly from singing. Old.
You want more examples? Good, I’ve got them.
Friday night after playing blackjack with Riggs, Chief, Scotty Darling, and Chef Donny we went looking for the cashier to exchange chips. I hate this part of leaving a casino, the wandering followed by the waiting in line after I’ve already made a decision that I want to leave bothers me and it’s why I always make it a point to win no money and have none left. That way when I want to go I can just go. We couldn’t find the cashier anywhere when Donny had the idea to “ask this guy he looks like he works here,” as my head turned to look at Donny I realized his outstretched arm was moments from grabbing Barry Melrose to ask him where the cashier was. Admittedly an oversized black pinstripe suit and a red tie does scream pit boss, but young people now mistake my broadcast ICONS for CASINO EMPLOYEES. Old.
After the casino we went to Hakkasan for our well-sandbagged championship celebration. We had tables and bottle service and there was gonna be a hot DJ group I’ve kinda heard of playing. Now to be fair here, no matter my age, this has never really been my scene so I knew I wasn’t gonna last long. I popped in, spread my hellos around and told a few jokes so people would remember seeing me, then reached in my bag for the trusty Irish goodbye around midnight. As I attempted to sneak out Dylan Larkin, who we’d walked into the club with, grabbed me and said “Kyle you leaving already?” and I, very self-conscious about not being able to hang anymore, lied and said that I needed to get someone in from the line at the front door. I lied to a person who doesn’t even know my name in an attempt to cover my aging tracks. Old.
I walked across the casino floor embarrassed, but also very excited to get back to my room and watch a movie. I stopped at one of the mini-marts they have and grabbed my movie snacks: water, sweet and hot beef jerky, peanut butter M&M’s, Sour Patch Kids, and of course Tums. Old.
But that’s when a miracle happened. As I shamefully dragged myself across the hotel with a bag of candy and Tums, a man came and rescued me. Like the angel on George Bailey’s bridge this man whispered into my ear “party party.” I whipped my head around and he gave me the look. The look that says if you want to either overdose on fentanyl or maybe stay up all night, get a hooker who you won't be able to get a hard dick for, and miss your flight I can make that happen RIGHT NOW, and I smiled ear to ear and said I’m all good. From there I practically floated to the elevator bay WHERE I WAS OFFERED TO BUY COCAINE AGAIN. This time the man said nothing he just held up a bag and stared at me. Practically giddy, I declined a second time.
Life is all about little victories and moving the goalposts to ensure you get those victories. When you were younger you wanted to be athletic, as you age you simply hope people see you and think “there was probably a time he was athletic” and the same goes for partying. Even if you’re not doing it to the extent you once were, you still want people to think you can if you need to. Even if you've felt old all weekend, you still want to have a little spot in your mind that says you can still reach back and chuck it. If drug dealers are stopping you on casino floors then I think it’s safe to say you’ve still got a look that says “hell yeah I’ll do a line right now, let tomorrow sort itself out” and that’s all any of us can hope for. Party party.