We had just gotten back for the second semester of the first year, when one of my civilian friends called me to tell me he had a conference in Las Vegas, and if I were willing to meet him there, I could crash in his company-paid hotel room. I had never been to Vegas so I agreed to the plan without hesitation. But it’s a long drive to Vegas and my friend would have to do a certain bare minimum of actual work, so I thought it would be ideal if one of my law school friends could join me on the trip. Though that, of course, is easier said than done, since it’s hard enough to get a law student off campus for an evening, much less, leave the state for a weekend, and especially if the destination happens to be Sin City. Still, with high hopes, when I met up with my friends that afternoon, I announced,
“Vegas baby! This weekend. Who’s coming with me?”
The crickets sounded, and after the long silence, the excuses followed.
“I got a lot of reading to catch up on.”
“I wanted to start working on the law review write-in.”
“Come on,” I insisted, “It’s the second week of the semester. Exams are four months away. You can afford to take a weekend off.”
“Who cares? It’s a road trip. Anything’s better than staying here for the weekend.”
Then, one of my friends who was a bit older than the rest of us got this nostalgic look about him, and, staring off into space, began an ode to Las Vegas.
“I love Vegas. There’s nothing like her in the world. Driving up to it at night, with all the lights shining in the middle of the desert. All the people going crazy; nothing else matters to them but the next roll of the dice.”
With that sort of reverence, I figured he was a shoe-in to accompany me, but he continued.
“I would definitely go, but my girlfriend would never let me. But do me a favor. I’m giving you $100. Go to the roulette and bet it on black. Bring me back the winnings.”
“Okay. I’ll do it,” I said, disappointed he wouldn’t be coming, “But do you really think if you win I would bring you back the money? I would probably just spend it and then tell you it landed on red.”
“Well in that case, I’ll just give you $20.”
Hearing our older friend speak so passionately, another of my friends built up some nerve and said, “Oh hell. I’ll go with you. I’ve always wanted to go. Why not? Vegas baby!!!”
Any excitement about going to Las Vegas for the weekend withers away and dies during the interminable drive. It is unbelievable how far from the rest of civilization that place is. By the time we got there, we were exhausted. Plus, any excitement left over was drowned out by my friend’s guilt. He could not forgive himself for indulging in a weekend road trip. From the moment he stepped in the car, he regretted his decision.
“But it’s just the weekend,” I tried to comfort him. “We’ll be back on Sunday night. You won’t miss any class.”
“I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel right. It feels irresponsible.”
For some inexplicable reason, law students feel that they are forbidden from indulging in anything. That by attending law school, you are agreeing to a sort of silent covenant where you won’t do anything that might give off the impression of lighthearted enjoyment. We inherit a supposed duty to suffer, and sacrifice our youth in the name of the Constitution. It is probably that very sense of repression that inevitably leads us to go crazy and lose control whenever an opportunity for fun arises.
And that’s precisely what happened in Vegas. But, of course, any details will be omitted here in observance of the old legal doctrine, Quis venio in Vegas subsist in Vegas, whereby a witness at trial cannot be compelled to testify to any events that may have occurred within the city limits of Las Vegas. Laymen affectionately refer to it by its English translation: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
Before we knew it, we were back in the car and on our way back home. My friend, now with the lights and excitement behind us, once again became racked with guilt.
“I can’t believe I didn’t do any reading at all this weekend. I’m going to be so behind this week. This might set me back for the entire semester.”
“Relax,” I tried in vain to reassure him as I nodded off in the passenger seat, “You’ll remember this weekend for the rest of your life. You have the rest of the semester to stay at home and study.”
Sure enough, the next morning, after a long weekend of neglecting the books, at my 9:00am Contracts class, the professor called on me, and I made an ass of myself. What are the odds that he would call on me on the Monday after a weekend in Las Vegas? I gambled and lost.