Welcome back to MR’s Sunday Scaries Diaries, where haunted humans chronicle their end-of-weekend terrors (plus the events that led up to them) to help make all of us feel a little less alone in the fetal position come Monday morning. Up this week, Marissa Ross — writer, Bon Appétit Wine Editor and author of WINE. All the Time (available now for pre-order). You think being a professional drinker would make her Sundays easier, but no. It’s super scary. For starters, she’s in VEGAS.
I really do not want to be awake right now, but I’m one of those people who, no matter how late I stay up or how much I drink, will always be up by eight. Despite my three hours of sleep and the tiki mug on the hotel dresser reminding me of those rum drinks I didn’t need, I’m not hung over. But it’s Sunday. In Vegas. And I’ve been here since Wednesday. And that is its own shitty sick feeling in the pit of your stomach and soul.
For the record, I’ve been in Vegas for work, for Bon Appétit’s Vegas Uncork’d. Uncork’d is BA’s big Vegas food event, and each day I hosted events with different chefs. My duties included giving a small speech, socializing with guests and making sure everyone had a nice time. These are all things I normally am very good at, but this morning, I am not so confident. Four days in Vegas has left my spirit feeling like a can in a compactor: crushed.
I drag myself out of bed, find the kettle and grab the “Soothing” tea bags I stole from the hotel lobby yesterday out of my purse. I have no voice left from yelling over music at the events I hosted the night before, and I’m supposed to give another speech at noon. Which is obviously going to sound beautiful, and by beautiful I mean, “like a very old and tired chain smoker which is a real bummer since I don’t smoke.”
I hop in the shower and try to pump myself up. I’ve got this! If there’s anything I’m better at than drinking and writing, it’s talking! Especially in front of people! I’m going to crush this speech! I’m going to wash the cigarette smell out of my hair and shave my legs and wash my face and feel brand fucking new!
I’m sitting in my robe in bed and my hair still somehow smells like cigarettes, as if my time here in Vegas has become a permanent part of my essence. I do not feel brand new.
YESSS. FORENSIC FILES IS ON. I love Forensic Files, and it is always on HLN. I don’t know what HLN stands for but they should change it to FFN (Forensic Files Network) because it has been on every time I’ve been in my hotel room.
WAIT. IT’S 10:22? I HAVE TO LEAVE FOR MY EVENT IN AN HOUR AND I STILL HAVE TO GET READY AND PACK AND FIND COFFEE!!! DAMN YOU, FORENSIC FILES!!!
Early to the Bellagio. I’m always early, even when I’m running late. But I feel terrible. My eyes are burning and my chest feels heavy from the hours upon hours in this atmosphere. I don’t think there is actual oxygen in Vegas, just some loathsome and addictive mixture of secondhand smoke and recycled air.
Got my speech down, but it has come to my attention that I am underdressed. I didn’t realize this was a formal Grandma’s Birthday/Easter kind of brunch and not a “Brunch! It’s a thing!” brunch. I greet the manager of the Michelin-starred restaurant and thank him for having us, complimenting their extensive wine cellar. He gives me a dinner menu to “keep me busy.”
My hair is completely flat and I’m about to go on and…
I bombed. Okay, I didn’t “bomb,” everyone said I was fine, but for me, I bombed. See, I went to do the speech and confidently was like, “Yo, hand me the mic.” But there was no microphone. Normally I don’t need one, but with my voice sounding more like Juno, Caseworker for the Dead from Beetlejuice with bronchitis than an energetic wine editor. I needed a fucking microphone. Also, microphones give me an instant switch into “Entertainer Marissa,” a human who can work a crowd much better than the flat-haired Dad on Vacation that stood before the wealthy, buttoned-up, Michelin-star brunch crowd. I was banking on that microphone, and not having it threw me. I stumbled through my speech, smiling at the upper echelon of epicureans who looked ready to hang me in the foyer for wearing shorts. I finished and slunk back behind a wall near the host stand and held back puking, something I did almost every time I got off stage as a kid.
Chef personally asks me to come say a few more remarks. My nausea dies down, and I put away my emergency Klonopin.
Back at Caesar’s with the rest of the BA crew that is still in town. We eat Chinese food and drink a lot of sake and laugh too loud. I notice my hands are the driest they’ve ever been, and in a moment of desperation, I cover them in Aesop lip balm then throw back another sake. We head to the airport together, and although I feel like a dried-out paper towel that has been stomped into the sands of life, I am really grateful to work for Bon Appétit. I love my job, my bosses, my co-workers. I love coming to Vegas for five days every year and losing my damn mind. Even when you have the driest hands of your life, it’s important to take time to be thankful for the good stuff.
My hour-long flight back to Los Angeles has been delayed, TWICE. With all of this time at the airport to myself and vodka sodas at Chili’s To-Go, I remember I have an OB-GYN appointment in the morning. I’m going in for the responsible pap smear, but mostly because I thought I had pillow marks on my boob a couple weeks ago, but the grooves are still there. Because they are not pillow marks. I don’t know what they are, and I don’t think they’re stretch marks because I have those on my ass and these are different. I’m trying not to go full-blown WebMD apocalypse mode because today has already been a very scary Sunday, and metal stirrups and clamps are already scary enough, and they’re probably just stretch marks and it won’t be at all scary when the doctor looks me in the eye and says, “You’re 31 and have boob stretch marks, you’re fine.” Not scary at all, getting old! I laugh at the passing of time! HA HAAAA!
After hours of sitting in airports and on runways, I finally walk in my door and collapse on my couch. My dogs run all over me. Ben, my fiancé, has made pasta and I spend the rest of the evening curled up between the corner of the couch and his shoulder, knowing that even if I bomb all my speeches forever or I find out these are not stretch marks on my boobs, I will always have this: home. And that makes everything a little less scary.
Feature illustration by Emily Zirimis; photos by Marissa A. Ross.