Reader Recounts His 21st Birthday In Las Vegas [PHOTOS]

A week ago we we received an email from John Lockwood who’s both a COED reader and sailor in the United States Navy (Petty Officer 3rd Class). He wanted to let us know that he’d be turning 21 in Las Vegas and wanted to know if we could publish his adventures on our site. Considering he didn’t say anything about payment, we couldn’t say no! Just kidding. We’re happy to do so.

Here’s John’s story along with some of the photos that he took:

You’re about to turn twenty-one. You’ve made it pretty far in life, and you definitely deserve a celebration. This is essentially your welcoming into the adult world. Eighteen? People laugh at eighteen year-olds. Twenty-one is the age of knowing yourself and the official start to being “adult” about everything. And what better way to begin this chapter than with a knock-down, drag-out booze-fest in the world’s largest adult playground? That’s right ladies and gentleman, I’m going to take your hand and show you the best way to christen yourself in overpriced shots and stripper sweat in the City of Sin. Let’s go to Vegas!

First of all, as with most things in life, preparation is key. It also goes without saying that Las Vegas isn’t like most things in life, so take that saying with a grain of salt and a shot of tequila. See? We’re drinking already. This is fun! The best way to avoid the troubles that come with both under-and over-preparing is to take a look at your trip’s company. You definitely want to bring people you get along with, but inviting too many friends could drown the celebration. I’ve found in my travels that an additional 1-3 friends is the perfect sweet spot when it comes to exploring. This way decisions don’t take too long, and trying to find tickets to anything won’t be a complete nightmare. I brought my one friend Dan and it made things a lot easier in terms of meeting new friends and getting free upgrades. Which brings us to our next point…

THERE ARE SO MANY FREE THINGS IN THIS CITY. This is the place where everyone comes to have fun. If the manager of your hotel/restaurant/cockfight/casino hears that you aren’t constantly having THE MOST FUN ALL THE TIME, they’ll do something to remedy it. The simple fact of it is, there are a thousand other hotels/restaurants/casinos in the city (not cockfights, those things are pretty hard to come by), so your current establishment will do as much as possible to keep you in the door. All you have to do is speak up! For example, Dan and I got a free upgrade to VIP seating at X Burlesque just by asking. In addition to talking to management…

Make friends with everyone! We met a lovely lady named Gayle by being social at karaoke. Gayle worked in ticketing and because we were so friendly, she got us free tickets to Recycled Percussion the following night. Our cab driver also offered to treat us to an Asian rub-n-tug, but we politely declined.

Really, Mom, we did.

Embrace the awful things that are definitely going to happen. Whether you’re here for two days or a week, something will go wrong, guaranteed. Dan and I got stranded on the outskirts of town with only a few bucks to get us back, so we looked for the nearest customer-friendly business to see if we could negotiate a ride home. We ended up at a chain strip club on the outskirts of Las Vegas on a Tuesday at 1:30 pm. I can say with a straight face that we had more fun there with the third-stringers than we would have at a high-end place on a Saturday night. Plus, we barely spent any money and they dropped us off near our hotel with their complimentary limo service. Talking skills are handy in a pinch, but in a worse-case scenario, the one thing you want to know how to do is…

Bounce back like a champion. We flew in on Monday, my 21st around 11 AM. As you can guess, and as you should be, I was right f*cked by the time we started bar hopping at 9. It’s good Dan was holding the camera, because my night got a bit fuzzy after howling for the sole reason of trying to impress a wolf decal.

Come 10 AM Tuesday, I was pretty hungover. But was my moment! So we jetted over to the brilliant Doctor at Hangover Heaven, who patched us up good as new. They–no sh*t–plug you into an IV so you can rehydrate and recharge in under an hour. They’ll even come right to your room for a bedside treatment. Finally, a reason to go to medical school! Eh, who am I kidding… This is a reason to get even sillier tonight.

If you have a long time fear of needles for some strange reason (I’m looking at you, Requiem For A Dream), then right around the corner is a needle-free hangover cure. Not nearly as effective, but twice as tasty, Rolling Smoke BBQ will fill your stomach with sweet soul food that makes me tired just thinking about it. But now that you’re somewhat sober and ready to have fun in the daytime….

Get off the strip. I know, I know, bright lights and pretty girls await, but there are so many more interesting places that don’t have a fraction of the advertising budget that The Bellagio does. If you head up to Fremont Street, you’ll get all of the street performers that you would on the strip, except for the fact that they’re way better here. They’ve seen just about everything and they’re more than happy to share stories. It’s also a lot cheaper and nigh impossible not to have a good time up north. And the last thing you want to do before you get home is….

Break some bloody rules! It didn’t get the name Sin City for having a famous monastery! I don’t mean for you to break laws or anything drastic, but feel free to cut loose here. Take up an assumed identity for the day and make everyone think you’re a big wig who just flew in from Macao. I actually got a security escort to our show of choice with a similar bamboozle. The only trick to this is making sure you know how to pronounce the word Macao, which I unfortunately did not, as pointed out by an unfooled bystander. No problem, though, on to the next ruse. Try to see just how far a confident walk and a clipboard can get you.

I understand the woman told me not to take my camera on the rollercoaster at New York New York, but I did anyway. It’s because I’m an American, and as long as you don’t break the law, the worst they can really do is ask you to leave. I see that sign over there says VIP only, but how will I really know unless I try to get in? You’d be shocked at how often people take things at face value without questioning anything. Now, to bring things to a proper close…

Enjoy yourself! You’re 21 now, the hard work is over. Time to kick back with a (legal) cold one at a lovely establishment like Twin Peaks (see picture for proof of loveliness) and let life repay you for all the hard times you’ve had so far. It all gets easier from here, right?


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