One in 2000

Ashley Martinez ’09 is from Las Vegas Nev., a city I have grown to dislike intensely after having been obliged to visit my great-grandmother there for most of the birthdays of the 10th decade of her life. There was the time my aunt tried to steal the catered brunch; and the time my cousin brought a gun; and the time we went to services and the rabbi hit on me. I hated all those times. She died at the age of 100, and they buried her in a Jewish cemetery in the desert, except they actually put her in the wrong grave, so then they had to dig her up and bury her again, a resurrection of one. I did my best to conceal my fear and loathing from Ashley, and I don’t think she caught on: needless to say I specialize in tact and discretion.

Is it true what Hunter Thompson said: that Circus Circus is what we’d all be doing on a Friday night had the Nazis won the war?

Circus Circus is going downhill. Now it’s just the scene of gang violence.

How far away from the strip do you live?

I actually went to high school downtown, so I was there every day. It was about a 20-minute drive from my house.

What is the hottest spot in Vegas right now?

Probably the Wynn. My brother went to the pre-opening, and they gave everyone who went – must have been thousands of people – 500 dollars to gamble with, except my brother was 19 so he couldn’t partake.

Do you gamble?

I lost the last time I played so not for the moment.
What’s your game?

Blackjack.

And now you’re cutting back?

No, I’m gonna win it back!

What’s your major?

Biology and Psychology, and Neuroscience. It’s my passion, second to blackjack.

Well you’ve obviously got your priorities straight. What else do you do?

I do puzzles. I work on my thesis; it’s due in a week.

What are you working on?

Rats.

How do you feel about rats?

I’m allergic to them, actually.

Does it affect you in lab?

Yeah, I have asthma, so I have to carry my inhaler around.

I’ve been telling people for years that I’m allergic to work! You’re living the dream!

Yeah I have a legitimate excuse. Actually I have a question for you – how do you pick people for One in Two Thousand?

Well it’s actually a very simple process, you just—[After this all I remember is three burly men entering the room and injecting me with a syringe. When I woke up three days later I was back in the room with Ashley. Everything was the same as before except my new favorite musician is Jimmy Buffet, and I lost the ability to taste garlic.]

If you could only listen to one band for the rest of your life, who would it be?

Lynyrd Skynyrd.

You should meet my dad. One of them died right?

Three of them died in a plane crash in the ’70s, apparently it was on a plane that people knew had troubles. Apparently Aerosmith was supposed to be on that plane, but they were skeptical of it.

And to think humanity could have been spared “Walk This Way.”

It would have been a tragedy.

So puzzles?

You’re adding to my cool image yet again.

Please, this is the Features section, we can just make stuff up. So I hear you auditioned for Baywatch?

Wouldn’t I have been like 12?

I also heard you gunned down those pirates.

Yeah they made them into a jigsaw puzzle, which I put together with ease.

Did going to school in downtown Vegas tempt people off the straight and narrow?

In high school a lot of girls drop out to strip; that’s the biggest thing. Actually the best writer for our school paper dropped out to become a stripper, and it was really sad. Hers was the only column I would read.

Do you notice the effects of the downturn back home?

Definitely. They have stopped mid-building – there are hotels half built or half torn down – which you’d never see. They were like, “Don’t panic! In 20 or 30 years it will be great to live in Las Vegas.” Our biggest problem except for the economic crisis is the water crisis. There was a time when it used to be illegal to wash your car in your driveway – I’m not sure how much they enforce that any more but you definitely still feel the shortage of water.

Do you think Las Vegas will be around long term?

Oh I hope so.

I dunno; I see all of those golf courses in the desert and I think – those cannot possibly be sustainable.

I feel that people will always need a place like Las Vegas.