IMPORTANT NEW NOTES FROM JUSTIN:
US Tour Day 209, Part 1: Reno
Reno. I'm not sure what there is to do here if you don't like gambling, getting drunk, shopping for ugly–shirts, or eating at buffets. Don't get me wrong, I've done plenty of buffet feasting and drinking since my arrival Friday morning. But, isn't there more than this?
I noticed one thing for sure: There's definitely nobody to have sex with here. That is, unless you want to stick it in homeless, depressing displaced Native Americans or slip into an alley with the empty shells of ex–gambling–addicts who've long since lost their last few dollars and their molars.
Skot and I could only watch Dave and Jeremy get drunk and gamble for so long before we had to get outside and do something else—anything else. We took a walk down Virginia Ave., the main street in the world's biggest little city. We didn't have to look before crossing the main thoroughfare. The street was empty, only more barren. A dazed man wearing dirty brownish blue jeans fell down in the middle of the street. He tried to stand up and fell down again. The street seemed to be a pretty safe place to collapse on a Friday afternoon—there were no cars to hit him.
A blonde girl stood outside a gift shop, looking nervous. Her jeans were tight and she wore too many mismatched gold rings. She wasn't pretty. Her eyes seemed either too far apart or too close together—I couldn't quite tell which. There were pimples or sores on her face. She was the prettiest girl we'd seen all day, though, and she wasn't overweight or ugly enough to be a tourist. I stopped and asked her if there was Chinese food nearby. She seemed uncomfortable and unsure, her eyes shifted back and forth as if the answer was just outside her peripheral vision somewhere. She said 'um' a lot.
"Maybe you should ask him." She gestured to what I assumed was her boyfriend—a twenty–something boy sat alone inside the liquor store playing video slots. He had a baseball cap on and too many tattoos. He didn't even look at the slot machine as he pressed the play button. We approached him and asked about nearby Chinese food. He answered as if we'd asked something else, "She's hot, isn't she?" He nodded his head towards the girl who was waiting outside.
I didn't really know how to answer without jeopardizing our ability to get Chinese food. I waffled, "Um, actually I was kind just interested in Chinese food."
"Go up the street here. Turn left. Turn right. You'll run right into it." I wondered why the girl stood outside alone while he sat inside, mindlessly pumping away into the slot machine.
We ordered dry, braised string beans to go and sat on the side of the road, talking, eating, and watching no traffic go by. Skot told me about hacking his grades in high school, breaking into his classrooms in the middle of the night, and shoulder tapping to get alcohol back in the day. His high school years seemed so much more exciting than mine. I didn't do much but study and play in bands. I surely never did anything bad that might warrant police intervention, suspension, or detention. I felt like I'd missed out on something important by being so good.
Back inside the Golden Pheonix Dave and Jeremy were miles and miles down the road towards drunken stupor. I'm not sure how they managed to keep from falling of the barstools, perched in front of the roulette table. And, I couldn't tell if I wanted to be where they were or not—stumbly and silly and laughing, money running out of my pockets like the melting snow in the spring.
I knew one thing for sure, though: Reno is a strange place and it leads people to do strange things, to part with their money, their sobriety, and sometimes even their sanity. That's its appeal, this town on the brink between ghost–town and boomtown, this living relic of the Old West.
For now I'm going to taste what there is to taste here and see what it does to me.
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