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Blast Minnesota Bureau

So where does your average library worker/bookseller go for a vacation? A quiet cabin on the blustery shores of Lake Superior? A road tour of the Carnegie libraries? You're close. Vegas, baby, VEGAS!!!

You know it, the land of the Liberace Museum, Tom Jones, the Debbie Reynolds dinner theater and the never-ending ringing of the slot machines. The music of the slots. In the city that never sleeps. These were the clichés that we came to embrace.

My best friend Christa and I just spent a weekend celebrating our birthdays in Sin City. She and I made a pact to really celebrate our 29th so, Vegas-bound, we packed our long-sleeve T-shirts and small earrings and boarded our flight.

As it turns out, Vegas was a real learning experience. For one, I heard things I never expected to hear coming out of my nature-loving friend's mouth. Things like "Do we have time to gamble?" and "Excuse me, Keno lady, I'd like to place a bet." She claims it was research so she could teach her students back in southern Minnesota about the evils of gambling. That and all the free Keno crayons she could fit in her pockets. But I don't believe I ever saw that glint in her eye on our trip to Glacier National Park.

Another thing we learned is that luck is definitely NOT a lady. Our blind dates stood us up. OK, I'll admit it wasn't a good idea in the first place, to agree to let my mother set me up with someone who works for her. As it turns out, they were fired the day of our dates, so you can hardly blame them. Living up to our new personas as slick Vegas gals, we took it in stride and went back to the swanky soiree we had been attending at the Luxor.

My friend Quinn was also in Vegas for the weekend so we got ourselves invited to a cocktail party that is difficult to describe. The only thing that I can think of is that it almost felt like we were in a movie. It wasn't my usual hummus and pita bread and Amstel Light party. It was decadent gifts from Tiffany's and German aristocracy and European boys explaining the subtle differences in techno music. You see on the one hand you have boom boom boom boom boom boom boom and on the other you have boom boom boom boom boom boom boom ba boom boom boom. I never knew that before.

We also learned that dropping $20 at video poker does not make us high rollers. At the video arcade in New York New York we ran into a guy from our high school who, without even looking up from driving his phony race car, yelled to us: "I'm down three grand!!"

But I'm no newcomer to Vegas. My parents live there, so it's sort of my home away from home. The thing that always makes me sickest (no, it's not my fellow Minnesotans hobbling off the plane in their sweatsuits and fanny packs) is the sex. Everywhere you look they're selling sex, from "ALL NUDE" placards on taxis to six porn channels in the hotel to cleavage-heaving cocktail waitresses. Everything is about sex. And yet, they try to market it as a family town. Or so they think. Shoving rolls of quarters for the arcade into your kid's hands while you shimmy up to the slots for free liquor is hardly my idea of quality time.

But amidst the lights and the desert warmth and the buffets and the smoke and the celebrity spottings (Kato Kaelin!), Christa and I managed to eke out a grand time. At least that's what the employees told us incessantly at the MGM Grand.

"You have yourself a grand day now!!" Tune in next time for: meeting Debbie Reynolds at the Nefertiti lounge