It’s summer vacation. Danny, Mohammed, and I are 19, broke, and bored out of our minds. We decide to go to Vegas. Just the three of us. Because our other friends are smart enough to know that if you can’t gamble, drink, or rent a hotel room, what’s the point of going? But we take off anyway, optimistic and hopeful for adventure in my mom’s Toyota Camry.
We get to Vegas in the afternoon and park in the Circus Circus lot. The first thing we do is walk the strip, passing hotels under construction, water-wasting fountains, and luxury shops. I remember making the conscious decision to not look in the store windows because it would just bum me out how I can’t buy anything. Once we get the end of the strip, we just turn around and walk back. We’re in the middle of all the fun, yet can’t partake in any of it.
The only thing we can do is play carnival games at Circus Circus. We’re twice as old as everyone else there. Morale is low.
That night we walk the strip again. Tired, sweaty, sober, and poor, we’re mostly dodging the prostitute business card peddlers posted on every street. My mind wanders to the future as we walk, where I fantasize about coming back older, with more money, and hopefully taller and less fat. But we still walk with a nervous excitement that something could happen – get pulled into a limousine that drives off somewhere, run into a bunch of strangers who invite us to party with them…
But alas, none of that happens. We retire back to my mom’s Camry in the Circus Circus parking lot. At 2:30 in the morning, a security guard knocks on the window and tells us to get out. We find a shitty little neighborhood to park the car the rest of the night. Surprisingly, we all knock out and have a decent sleep.
The next morning we’re desperate for something to do. Mohammed mentions that his family had just bought a house that was being built on the outskirts of the strip to rent out for extra income. We decide to check it out. Mohammed calls his family’s realtor, who meets us and gives him a key to the house. When we find it, it looks pretty much finished. Mohammed calls his mom, who hasn’t seen the house in person yet, and describes it to her. Danny goes up to the master bathroom to take a shit. I walk through the rooms admiring the pristine carpet and take deep breaths of the new house smell. “This is the type of house I’ll own when I’m older. But maybe not in Vegas.” I tell myself.
Suddenly, I hear Danny calling my name.
“What?” I yell back.
I run up to the master bedroom and linger by the bathroom doorway.
“Dude, there’s no toilet paper.”
I let out a high-pitched laugh I usually reserve for toilet-related humor.
“There’s nothing here!” I tell him. “The house is empty.”
Then I remember something even more important than toilet paper.
“Wait a minute. Does the toilet even flush?”
Danny seizes up like he just inhaled mid-hiccup.
Thankfully, the toilet works. But he still insists on the toilet paper.
I try to reason with him.
“But do you even need to wipe?”
I tell him I would have to drive out a few miles to find the nearest convenience store. But Danny doesn’t want to wait.
“Ill just use this.” he says.
I laugh hysterically lying face up the floor of the master bedroom while Danny does his thing. Is this really happening?
“Okay, I’m done.”
I walk into the bathroom.
“You didn’t flush it did you?”
“No. Where should I put it?” Danny asks, rolled up wife-beater in hand.
“Hold on.” I say. “Let me get a picture of it.”
Danny unfurls it as I bust out my flip phone. Danny proudly poses with his wife-beater, polka-dotted with shit stains, like he’s at a press conference announcing he just signed a max deal with the Lakers.
I still remember the picture I took. Danny’s smile is so wide it looks like his eyeballs popped out of their sockets and rolled onto the floor.
But where do we put it? We don’t want to stink up Mohammed’s brand new house and don’t want to bring it in the car. The neighborhood the house is in is so new there aren’t any garbage cans yet. So Danny flings it out the bathroom window and onto the roof to let nature take its course.
“Maybe a bird will find it and make it a part of its nest.” I say.
Danny and I go down to the front yard of the house and tell Mohammed what happened. He just shakes his head, disgusted. Mohammed never really found poo or pee or farts funny.
We decide to cut the trip short and head home that day. We’ll come back. When we’re older. And have more money. And have more female friends.
On the drive home, we stop for dinner at the Sizzler in Barstow. We take a seat in an empty banquet room in a booth facing a big screen TV. Malcolm in the Middle is on. And I am content.