Inspiration. It’s what every writer seeks, no? Sometimes you just need to shake it up a little for new ideas to rise to the surface. That’s why I’m writing this from the Baccarat Bar at Bellagio in Las Vegas.
It’s only 11:40am, so I was able to score a casino-side seat, on a major marble-lined thoroughfare of the hotel, and watch the world go by. Literally. Gamblers, fun seekers, hedonists, shady characters, glamoristas and the salt of the earth, viewed for the price of a cup of coffee and a shot of Grand Marnier—served in a warmed snifter, but of course.
Behind me is the mega-chandeliered Baccarat Salon, where the real high rollers rub shoulders. This morning’s attendance is sparse, but how many clients do you need when the entry price of one hand of cards is a hundred bucks?
Okay, enough speculating like a tourist. It’s time to start thinking like a writer. What type of person would visit this bar as a bonafide customer? Well, let’s see. A high roller checking out the scene, for sure. A cigar aficionado, ditto. The bar menu has a cigar section; the most expensive stogy is called the Arturo Fuentes Opus X Super Belicoso for $78. I don’t know about you, but this about equals my lifetime expenditure for tobacco.
The cheapest cigar has the best write up:
ARTURO FUENTE HEMINGWAY SHORT STORY
Dominican Republic. Length:4 ½.. A gorgeous, classic, perfecto! The wrapper is dark and toothy. The smoke is rich, toasty and spicy, with a wide range of flavors including mint, earth and caramel.
Wow! All that in a sixteen-buck smoke! What type of character would partake? How about a competitive South American horsewoman, a powerhouse forty-something, desperate to find a backer for her stable? She’d definitely attract attention, draped over a chaise, wrapped in a cloud of expensive smoke.
My Grand Marnier is fini, and if I have another before lunch. I may compromise my integrity as a virtuous woman, so leafing I go through the bar menu again. There’s a selection of alcohol-free cocktails..I select the Island Nectar which is a congregation of fresh raspberries, pineapple juice and Orgeat syrup. Orgeat syrup? Think I’ll try me some. The waitress confirms that orgeat is a French syrup made from almonds. Check.
So perhaps the character who orders this alcohol-free drink is a teetotaling Christian girl from the French Caribbean who has come to Las Vegas in hopes of staying in the land of the free permanently. The orgeat syrup is a family favorite, so she orders the drink to remind herself of home. What’s she doing in a bar, then? Hoping to land a husband? Truth is, she’s probably got a pretty good chance of that in Vegas, but unfortunately she meets up with an imposter who marries her under false pretenses, and the story rolls out from there…
As you can see, it’s now 12:17pm, and less than an hour spent in the Baccarat Bar has yielded new character and story ideas that never would’ve surfaced home. It pays to try something new.