Alcoholics and Beauty Queens.

Life deal a cruel blow upon my return to the mainland in which cruel fate killed all my gaming consoles. It was if both the Wii and the Xbox had conspired together during my time away to end it all. And so both were sent to their respective repair shops.

This was also the time of the “Return of the Beard”, as foretold when attempted landings of piratey roles forced me to stop shaving and cutting my hair in order to look more rugged. So scruffy was I, that I couldn’t even hold my coffee in public anymore without someone trying to throw change in my cup.

But my cohorts and conspirators were happy to see me, and one said friend asked me and another one of our mutual friends out to watch her sing at this restaurant she was going to be at.

Didn’t quite tell me the full extent of the evening, that one. I probably should have asked: The night’s singing “theme”… was part of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

Bear in mind, I know little at the time about how the group truly worked, other than the obvious aspects of it. And considering I’m not someone with an alcohol addiction, it was a little awkward being there, to say the least, as I didn’t know how one is supposed to act in one of those things. Oddly, however, it does seem par for the course as to how social outings in my life can randomly turn out, and so I just went with it. But I was definitely out of my element, and it’s weird being the “outsider” in a support group element.

During the singalong and tambourine waving, I found myself having to go to the bathroom, which granted me a merciful excuse to escape for a few precious moments. So I went to the front area of the restaurant to ask. “You part of the meeting”, a woman barked at me in broken English, as diners began to look at me. “Um, sort of. Not really. I’m actually physically present in the meeting, but I’m just here to support my friend.” I felt it important to myself and this dining room crowd that I made clear that I wasn’t attending the meeting for its intended purpose because I personally needed it, and my face started to flush.

“I’ll show you where it is”, an older woman said, starting to lead me. “No”, the first woman barked. “He can find it on his own.”

“Fine”, said the older woman. “The bathroom is over….” As she said this, she made a sweeping motion with her arm, and promptly backhanded a waitress in the nose. Everyone was suddenly quiet, then attended to the girl after punching her in the face.

If I didn’t feel uncomfortable before….

“Oh. Um, I guess I’ll find it on my own”, I said, slinking back into the meeting, hoping to end my participation in that scene.

Fortunately, the meeting didn’t last much longer, and I was ready to depart. I didn’t feel like I should have been there, “fun theme night” or not. Still, by the end of the meeting, I found it weird that so many people were proudly stating that they had overcome all of these multiple addictions, and then immediately rushed outside once the meeting was over to inhale cigarettes like it was the last meal on Earth. I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective.

The mutual friend and I discreetly and nonchalantly excused ourselves to head over to Frankie’s Tiki Room. It felt somewhat hypocritical in an “I’m likely going to burn in Hell for this” sort of way to get out of an AA meeting, and then directly head over to a bar, but that’s Vegas for you. Somewhere, flames are licking at my feet.

It was that time of the year again for Miss USA, which was enjoyable as always, despite me looking like a hobo:

My "Blue Period".

My “Blue Period”.

I applaud Miss Nevada's geniality in humoring a wolfman knock-off.

I applaud Miss Nevada’s geniality in humoring a wolfman knock-off.

The beard was killing me. In any fledgling beard, there’s that certain “itchy” point where you just want to rip your face off, and I had reached mine. Whether it was going to roller derby (watching those girls punch each other was just like being back in that Colombian restaurant again), or whiling my days away at the Museum, or even seeing Flight of the Conchords at Planet Hollywood….

Bret, present.  Jemaine, present.

Bret, present. Jemaine, present.

It's business time.

It’s business time.

The beard haunted my dreams, man. It was far too much.

And I had to keep growing the thing….