Let me give two examples of just how different life is here in Las Vegas.

Earlier in the month, a complete stranger sidled up to me. He asked where he could score some “H.” Some smack.

Drat! If only he’d sought hookers instead.

It wasn’t an integrity test because those involve straight-up cash for providing/procuring abnormal services and goods. Or swiping property from the premises or persons on them.

Facilitating the request or thieving is never the problem. Getting caught, as one in the hospitality sector does now and then, is the problem. For a destination marketing itself as a place where inhibitions can be left at home, at the airport, or abandoned inside hotel rooms, Las Vegas has contradictory notions about sinning.

Sorry. Vice.

Financial ruin through gambling and dissipation by assembly-line cocktail bingeing is accepted. In fact aren’t both encouraged?

Yet the sexual exchanges can only be so mercantile and deviant, while drug usage tests the full extent of schizophrenia. Several topless shows and male reviews render the artifice of naughtiness entertaining. However, the authorities cast cold eyes upon visitors and locals alike who seek to forsake life through vicarious distance for actual fleshly delights.

Nevadans who approved cannabis use laughed then dismissed the “medicinal purposes” nuisances in order to enjoy weed recreationally. But giving the people what they want and allowing it are two different things. Instead of standing aside, legislators established vindictive hurdles in regards to where marijuana may be consumed.

Happy to report that in libertarian Nevada, the rules are being ignored. The aroma of icky-sticky wafts around public places and in prohibited hotel areas. Fortunately for all involved, the authorities aren’t crusading to keep sidewalks and parks free of stoners. Also, hoteliers quickly understood an increasing percentage of their guests looked upon the restrictions as less reason to visit the Big Mayberry.

After all, what can’t happen in Vegas?

The hotel industry realizes much clearer than the soberest bureaucrat that a good percentage of Las Vegas visits are impulsive. No one here wants such trade to put much thought into a Las Vegas journey. The concerned enterprises want that first germ to sprout and overwhelm all other contemplation with its abundant blossoms.

Thought beyond the initial urge could call into question whether it would worthwhile paying Strip addresses’ exorbitant restaurant and cocktail prices, the high fees for amenities, sundries, and parking as well as shouldering a club’s table service expenses. Thinking about any or all of them may be enough to cast shade upon visiting Las Vegas.

Simpler is better for those in every facet of the industry. They don’t want prospective guests pondering. They want prospective guests looking eagerly to the journey and adventures once here.

Anyway, about the visitor seeking a deck to calm the monkey on his back I could do nothing. Thankfully for us both he wasn’t jonesing. Despite my inability to aid him directly, I suggested a few avenues he might pursue. Surely on one of them he’d find a hollowed-out figure who could help him score.

In February, the above encounter has not been the month’s most unusual. Nor its least unpleasant.

Driving home from work for the weekend, one of the city’s legion of wild-eyed homeless men accosted me at a red light. At least he wasn’t scabby, grime-encrusted. His hair wasn’t unkempt and matted.

After a shower, a shave, and detox he might’ve appeared presentable enough to have applied for a job. Bet that notion never pierced his voluntary haze.

A nice high desert day, I’d rolled down the car windows. Normally the beggars perched on the sidewalk curbs make quick pitches. Until relocating to Nevada I never gave “spare change” much thought. Employed throughout adult life, my money has been fairly rigidly apportioned.

Being unresponsive normally suffices to have the pavement wretch “bless” you then shuffle along to the next possible soft touch. Not this one, though. Not only was he anchored at my window, he was also insistent.

Hearing his rapid patter, why wasn’t this cat on some store floor persuading gullible customers to make unnecessary purchases? Isn’t there good money in that?

He reminded me of a salesman working on commission. One who had to close steep sales goals in order to receive his percentage.

Rough living had aged him. Subject to the elements and these exacerbated by whatever chemical compositions coursed through his system, the poor devil couldn’t have been far on either side of 30. Despite this he was still in better shape than me.

Seeing his target resistant to parting with any coins at all, he tried guilt-tripping me. Give him this, for a crazed piece of drug-addled, two-legged vermin he was observant. He spied my watch and driving glasses. Yes. Both carried prestige labels. Yes. Both were expensive. Neither were gifts. I bought the latter after earning the money through work; the former a reward from opportunity provided by industry.

About the glasses, I love the brand. In fact I own a pair of shades bearing the same mark. You bet they get workouts during Mojave summers. Besides, wearing them makes me look cooler. The watch? The watch has a background that has startled listeners.

Practicality and sentiment. Two attributes I knew my supplicant had lost any and all appreciation of if he’d ever possessed either.

The way he rattled on must’ve lengthened the time at the stop light. Or maybe it was another manifestation of Einstein’s theory of time. In a second’s duration, a kiss from a lovely girl lingers less than an instant; holding a red-hot poker lasts an eternity.

My tormentor had enough time to delve into personal insults.

Nice to know my withholding a contribution had driven him into further desperation. My refusing to donate, really barely acknowledging him actually, frustrated him further.

No. Us both knowing he lacked any outlet probably angered him more.

No. My taking satisfaction in us both knowing him stuck in futility when the light finally turned green and me moving on while he remained mired in whatever hell he’d created himself hopefully angered him the most.