15 things I like about Vegas
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – 1. Knowing that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but that I don't have to.

2. The airport is very spiffy and modern and nice, with multiple venues for tasty victuals and friendly slot machines placed conveniently everywhere you look. This is a great convenience, providing demented thrill seekers and good wholesome families alike with the opportunity to lose money from the moment the airplane doors open and disgorge them.

3. People can smoke in public there. This is weird for those of us who live in the rest of America. It's like watching people walk around with hypodermic needles sticking out of their arms, but not really. You get used to it and then it seems quite natural despite the smell.

4. There are dinging noises everywhere. Ding-ding-ding, go the noises. They make you feel as if people are winning money. Ask not for whom the bells ding. They could ding for you and make you rich!

5. I like being thinner than 90% of everybody else. That doesn't usually happen to me. Sometimes it makes it tough to walk places, when you get behind an entire group of, say, two individuals who take up the entire sidewalk. But still.

6. All the hotels are completely different. Some are old and musty and sad, with carpets that have endured many things. Others are gaudy and happy and make you feel like Frank Sinatra. Each hotel has a different theme. Caesars Palace is just like Rome, except not. The Tropicana's concept is hard to pinpoint, except that it has lots of elderly people, some with little oxygen tanks strapped to their wheelchairs. The Venetian makes you feel as though you're in medieval Italy, except there wasn't quite as much dinging back then. There were other noises, however, I am sure, some even less pleasant.

7. Free drinks at the gaming tables. This is truly very sweet of the proprietors. It's hard to figure out why they do it. I mean, the other night I drank up at least $10 of midshelf vodka while I was taking 20 minutes to lose $300 on top of what I had already parted with.

8. I really like the fact that they have room service and minibars at the hotels now. In the old days it was different. A few years ago I stayed at the Mirage. I arrived on the food-free America West flight--they're very good about providing water, to be fair--famished. I dragged my bag through the dinging lobby, past the lines of ancient women feeding nickels into the slot machines through veils of Virginia Slims smoke, went to my room, which was very nice, and called room service for a cheeseburger. They told me it would be 90 minutes. I went down to the casino, where I lost $247.25 on the way to the free buffet, which also killed my appetite, so I guess they made out two ways.

9. The view from my room. From my window I could see the Eiffel Tower and the enormous fountain erupting every now and then. I watched the heat shimmer off the construction sites. It was quiet and so peaceful, except for the itching in my palms that made me wonder what kind of action I was missing by wasting my time up there.

10. The food is good. It didn't used to be. The buffets used to be troughs where you would tank up, like hogs fueling up for another round of doing whatever it is hogs do. Now there are a variety of excellent restaurants with the same names that attract people in real cities, names like Spago and Aqua and Wendy's. The oyster shooters at Commander's Palace are very good--fresh, plump blobs of oleaginous protoplasm in little shot glasses full of peppery bloody marys. Yum.

11. Not going to the shows. I always fall asleep. This is not the fault of the shows, which I was told were all good. It's just hard to stay noncomatose on two hours of sleep and the heavy dose of shame from being up $150 for five minutes and down $400 the next. This time around I missed Danny Gans, Celine Dion, Jerry Seinfeld, and, incredibly, Lynyrd Skynyrd, presumably tanned, rested, and ready to party.

12. Seeing a client in his or her bathing suit, dripping wet by the elevator. It gives you an edge later on.

13. Winning. It's a nice change. Just curious: How can the house get nothing but 19s, 20s, and 21s for ten or 12 hands in succession? There's something suspicious about that. The second night I sat down for five minutes, got two blackjacks, won $25, and quit. On the way to cash in, I dropped a quarter in a Wild Cherry slot machine and raked in $6.25. This made me feel as though I won, even though I was still down. Which proves ...

14. Vegas makes me a moron. It's not an unpleasant feeling. It makes it easier to shop, drink, and do business, especially with fellow morons.

15. What I really like about Vegas after staying a few days? Leaving it. No, wait. Wasn't that No. 1? I can't remember.

Stanley Bing is an executive at a FORTUNE 500 company he'd rather not name. He is the author of two recent books: The Big Bing, a collection of essays, and You Look Nice Today, a novel. He can be reached at stanleybing@aol.com.