Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
The lovely and feisty Carolann Williams and I just celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary.
Thank you very much. Yes, we've very happy. Twenty years is a significant milestone but now that we're home I'm wondering why I chose for us to celebrate by doing the most mundane thing imaginable:
We went to Las Vegas in our motorhome.
The very notion just reeks of middle-class, middle-aged convention. Hawaiian shirt, shorts and flip-flops, that's me wandering through the gilded monuments to luxury and excess: Caesar's Palace, the Luxor, Mandalay Bay et al.
We had a lovely time, we really did. Finally at an age where we can spare personal pretense Carolann and I strolled through the casinos, hotel lobbies and cavernous convention centers as the middle-class American tourists we are with zero sense of displacement. We even managed to while away a giddy half-hour of guffaws seated before the awe-inspiring circular escalator at Caesar's making fun of the people who passed by. (I'm sorry but it's not rude if they can't hear you!)
I learned a few things during our trip:
Everybody who goes to Las Vegas for the first time looks around and asks, "Who the hell decided this would be a great place to build a major city?" This is an especially insistent question if you didn't fly in but, rather, drove from Southern California across the Mojave Desert as we did only to be rewarded with Southern Nevada as your achievement.
But think about it. What is there to do outdoors there? Only one thing: get indoors as quickly as possible! And what can you do indoors? Only one thing: spend money. Lots of it.
No. The location is perfect and brilliantly conceived.
I also learned from our ignominious people-watching session that nobody belongs in a place like Caesar's Palace. George Clooney isn't there. Most people are like us, more in our element at Target or Chili's. Those who attempt to dress properly for the place tend to go too far and look like they were playing in Mom's closet or are fifteen pounds and twenty years beyond their imagined, sexy selves.
But the single most important lesson I learned in Vegas had nothing to do with casinos or hotels and yet, it has to do with money.
Never buy a beer from a guy in a tuxedo!
Ignorantly nonchalant, I approached a mini-bar in Caesar's Forum Shops mall and asked for a Heineken. Seven bucks. Plus tax. And, the free Las Vegas visitor guides all insist you tip a bartender one dollar per drink!
That was the worst and last $8.54 beer I will ever have.