Sin city

[Conor Friedersdorf]

Consider Las Vegas after 12 hours: already there is an urge to escape. The once quaint sounds of the casino floor clank against the nerves. You discern wrinkles beneath the caked-on makeup of haggard cocktail waitresses and paunch on black-jack dealers whose slouches gradually deepen.

Earlier on wedding parties brush past, tuxedos pressed and bridesmaid dresses flowing, fresh flowers pinned as boutonnières and bundled into bouquets. Friends beam as groom kisses bride: a happy future seems assured.

Hours later, a woman in a wedding dress stands alone, teetering drunk, her husband passed out upstairs. Her veil dangles from a blackjack table, anchored by a rum and coke; its ice is long since melted and a rust colored-ring remains when she yanks up the veil, tipping liquid onto the green felt where the dollar dances of her loved ones were gambled away.

In Las Vegas anyone who lingers very long finds its luster is lost, a particularly harsh sight in a city where the lights never dim.

It is, however, an excellent place to watch March Madness.

Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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