So, Las Vegas was Las Vegas. Or, as the hipsters and kids say, Vegas
was Vegas. We went to treat Mom to a Bette Midler show — she's been
the fan of fans for decades, and when my brother and I were in
elementary school she yanked us out one day so we could go to a book
signing Midler was doing. Bette came out wearing a hat with a
typewriter on it and I was sold. So my brother and I scratched together
tickets and a flight, while Larry took care of the hotel (hello, time
share presentation!) and we all met up for a lovely several days.
Lovely, that is, if you don't mind 112 degrees of temperature that —
dry heat or no — hits you like an anvil when you walk outside. Lovely,
that is, if you don't mind dressing for 112 degrees of temperature and
then dealing with 50 degrees of air conditioning when you're inside.
Las Vegas is a challenge.
But there were some perks.
I don't gamble. Never did care for the mindlessness of slots, and don't
have enough cash to throw around where I'd be able to really "play"
poker. Maybe if they let me play for 50 cents a game. So I've only been
once and the plan was to eat at the buffets, sit at the pool, see the
show and do some shopping. All of which got done (the buffets are truly
legendary but I never see this much food in one place ever and when you
tell me the bacon is unlimited … shoot, my teeth were squeaking by
the time I'd finished eating). That said and food aside, I can
sometimes be talked into giving gambling a shot.
When we first
arrived at the Flamingo, Mom told me about how my brother Craig — who
goes to Vegas probably once or twice a year and does gamble — had this
thing he did when he got to a new casino. The first roulette table he
went to, he'd put $5 on No. 8. The first time he did that, he won right
off. Then he did it a second time, on another visit. The third time he
was with a friend who said, "Aren't you going to do that again?" and
Craig waved it off as just coincidence, no big deal. So his friend
played No. 8 for $5 at the first roulette table they came to and hit
it. So this was mom's plan once we checked in. But she wanted to rest a bit upstairs, so Larry and I went down to look
You may see where this is going.
Anyway, file this
under "I Shit You Negative": I told Larry what Mom had told me, and
wondered if I should do it. Larry didn't say I should, and didn't say I
shouldn't, but went with me over to the first roulette table. (And by
first, I mean, real roulette. There was one station with a wheel and a
spinner but it was surrounded by computer banks where folks sat —
nobody put chips on the green or nothing. So, not really roulette in my
book.) The first real roulette table was pretty empty and had a minimum
of $10, so I got two chips and put one on 8 and one on 15. Someone else
piled a bunch of chips on mine on 8, and off the ball went around. I
didn't even watch it go, or watch the results, because I was in some
kind of fugue. Then suddenly the croupier was putting a clear plastic
marker on 8 and I looked up. I'd hit 8. I didn't even get it at first,
and had to say something dumb like, "Did I win?" and then "Can I get my
chips?" because I was afraid it would suddenly go to the next round and
he'd think I wanted to let it ride or something.
Walked off with $180; threw the
original $5 I still had left as a tip to the croupier because that's
what they do in the movies. And then kept the chips and glowed at them
the whole rest of the time I was there. Did I bet again? I did not. But
you put down $10 and walk off with $175 and you know exactly why people
do, again and again and again. I immediately called my brother and told him I owed him a dinner or something. Larry kept saying, "I just can't believe you did that." And frankly, neither could I. But I knew if I tried it again it would never work, so I just laid off the gambling. $175 was good enough for me.
The Bette show? Fantastic. Big and loud and bawdy and quite arty in a few ways. She does this one routine which you either get or you don't, but from the time I saw it years ago on a DVD it had me in tears: She plays Delores Delago, the Toast of Chicago — a lounge singer who's not very talented but is very ambitious … and is a mermaid. Who propels herself (and her backup singers/mermaids) around the stage on wheelchairs. It is the essence of Bette Midler and it just kills me. Plus, we had kick-ass seats.
And finally, I even had a Vox connection! Fellow writer and neighbor here on Vox R.G. Ryan and his wife actually schlepped to the strip to pick me up and take me back to their local Starbucks (if you don't read his blog there's a natural connection to it, so go read it now) and they were just delightful. Had a great time discussing writing and the nasty, nasty publishing business, plus just got to see a 3-D version of the person I've been reading for at least a year now. Hey, y'all, thanks for the tea! Most refreshing when it's 112 or what have you out there.
And now I am home and I am exhausted and the next few weeks are going to be so busy I kind of want to run away but these things have to be done. Hope to post in the meanwhile but I'm not counting on it. See you in August….