My friend, Gene, doesn’t get out so much. This is because he can’t breathe very well. Why am I always keeping company with people who can’t get enough air? It must be kismet or something. Whatever. These short-of-breath folks seem worth their weight in portable oxygen tanks (which are not so light) so I’m glad they land in my space bubble.
I, on the other hand, get out a lot. Sometimes by choice: I’ve done some great wilderness and adventure travel, a lot of it with my darling daughter. Sometimes by opportunity: My husband travels with his work and once in a while the destination draws me along. These past months it’s been out of necessity as I flit around in little Saab prop planes to the hinterlands on family matters.
And so, a little jaunt to Las Vegas is not the sort of trip that would be on my radar right now, or ever. I don’t gamble. I don’t like crowds of people. I don’t like noise and commotion and bright city lights. I hate cigarette smoke. I get a headache if I drink much. Between you and me? Looking forward to this trip? Not so much.
Flying out of Detroit’s abandoned and dejected Smith Terminal on a dingy American West plane late at night wasn’t lifting my spirits. (Northwest Air, bankruptcy aside, owns the Detroit Airport. Every other airline gets the condemned part of the airport.) And when the world’s BIGGEST person lowered himself into the seat next to me I really started feeling sorry for myself. I was trying to politely ignore the fact that he needed two seat belt extensions but he insisted on telling me his own personal weight loss saga that took exactly 3 hours and 18 minutes to recount and that, coincidentally, was the length of the flight.
(Just FYI, he used to weigh 827 pounds but now, thanks to gastric bypass and a low carb diet, he’s down to 485 pounds and he sells vinyl replacement windows for a living and is this your first time to Vegas? Because you are just going to love it you can really let your hair down there and do whatever you want because that’s what everyone else does there and if you like to eat there’s no place on earth like Vegas you can get a 38 ounce cut of prime rib and potatoes and creamed corn and baked Alaska for under twenty-five dollars and then if you’re hungry again at 3 AM you can go and get fried chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy…)
He must not have noticed that I was
gagging, had the blanket over my head, moaning with a migraine, trying to sleep. When we landed at midnight there were a mere 2000 people waiting in line for taxis outside the airport. And this is another big number that is also not an exaggeration. People were cued up like they were waiting to get on Space Mountain, zigzagging back and forth seven times down these long, long lines.
Finally I got to the hotel, which is amazing, even late at night with a headache. Gene and I are going all out and staying at the Bellagio. Rich suggested this because he has some Las Vegas experience and he pointed out that a suite here, at this gorgeous hotel, costs less than two rooms anyplace else and it’s the only non-smoking establishment in Vegas. We have two rooms and two and a half bathrooms so we don’t even have to look at each other in pajamas. And Gene and I have had a year, each in our own lives and we are worth it. And I wasn’t coming unless I could see plants and art and Chihuly glass and Cirque de Soleil. (Rich is at home feeding the cats and dressing up in his cap and gown again for Michigan’s Commencement festivities.)
This works out well because I can push Gene around, both figuratively and literally, order up some air from the concierge (did that this morning) and go for ice. Gene can tell me that it’s not a good idea to keep asking for cards if I have a queen and a nine. We’re simpatico.
Gene is a wonderful person. He is not only very smart and very funny; he is determined and optimistic and good spirited. And he is not a potty mouth in person. He is not really fascinated with dung beetles- he just writes about them for your entertainment. He is a perfect gentleman. We have gotten tangled up at the door more than once fighting over who goes first if I’m going to push.
That being said, would you like to know the best thing about this trip? The hotel soap. I am not kidding. I am a connoisseur of hotel soap and this place is cracking. Look at this. And when I walked into the bathroom and saw all this soap and yelled, “Quick! Hide it! Then they’ll bring us some more!” Gene did not object. So I gathered up all the soap and shampoo and lotion and hairspray and toothbrushes and razors and sewing kits and mouthwash and put them in my drawer and the next time we came back to the room, 40.00 poorer, well, there was all new. This is good stuff. If I stayed here any longer than Sunday, I could open my own bed and breakfast