Tom Jones, my Las Vegas savior

Vegas, baby. The place I’ll never return to unless I’m subdued, given knock-out drops, stuffed in a trunk. The place where behavior and morals exist in a perpetual state of unspeakable decay.
We took a family trip to Las Vegas in 2003. That was part of the problem. Vegas touted itself as a family destination for about a year. Some influential big wigs must have seen how successful Disney was at robbing people with cartoon characters and decided to get in on the action. They built amusement parks, added kids shows, made hotels “family friendly”, basically put a big scary smile on the creepy clown at the airport while flipping mom and dad upsidedown for their spare change.
It worked. Hotel prices were way cheaper in Vegas and it had the bonus of gambling while the kids had fun in the pool. Win-win, right?
Wrong! People who bring kids to sin city don’t blow as much money on gambling! The family attactions did nothing to offset the lack of money at the craps table so it took Las Vegas about a minute to shut down the fun attractions and turn them back into convention rooms (business men and women loooveto gamble after a day of team-building meetings).
We didn’t get that memo, unfortunately, and arrived in Las Vegas like rubes from Hayseed, No Where. It was an ominous sign that the first thing that greeted me off the plane, actually I think it was on the ramp they roll up to the place to get in the terminal was a slot machine.
All right, I’ll be fair, there was nothing like driving into the strip at night, the lights! the facades of famous hotels! the towering buildings! it was spectacular.
The scary clown hotel was not. Circus! Circus! was on the edge of the strip and fading fast into the seedy end. It lacked the elegance I wanted and was filled, packed! with zombie-like people dragging sleepy or crying children around. We didn’t have any capped bell hop capering about with our luggage. We got lost in the casino for about forty minutes trying to find the elevator to get to our rooms. As we circled and circled, I quickly decided I didn’t like Las Vegas–on the first night, before we even got to our room!
There wasn’t much to change my mind the following days. We walked around the strip, walked through the famous hotels, watched the gondoliers and gawked at the Eiffel Tower but I kept thinking how much money we had wasted on looking at reproductions of the real thing. It was so hollow. Plus we got lost in the casino of every single flipping hotel we walked through!
By the third night, our older son was bored and took a midnight stroll on his own while the Mr. and Mrs Hayseed snored away in the grim, gray hotel room. He got hustled and robbed of all his spending money. He came back shaken and scared but not dead or beaten. He confessed he wanted to see if he could get a fake ID and do some gambling. I appreciated the honesty but launched into a nearly hysterical tirade of the worst case scenarios that could have happened. That segued into how much I hated this place, the whole place. Everyone had dead eyes, we passed fat zombie ladies sitting at a “Price Is Right” slot machine at night and saw the same woman in the same spot when we went out in search of breakfast the next morning. We were in was a bad place.
My husband, always the more rational half of this lovely marriage, was able to see that the boy learned a good lesson We still had 3 days to go wth plans to see things out of Las Vegas so the trip was salvageable. He knows me well and somehow managed to get one ticket to the sold out Tom Jones show at the MGM which he presented to me on my tenth sighing of “I hate this place”.
Tom Jones! I love this place! I dressed up, was taxied to the MGM and a fully dressed door man escorted me from cab to the entrance of the swankiest lobby I ever saw. I was escorted to my cocktail table, which I shared with a radio DJ from New York city who asked me if I was a screamer. I assured him I wasn’t but as we looked around the room at the sparkly-gowned white haired ladies, we were sure we were the only ones who would contain ourselved when Tom sashayed onto the stage. We were right. They hooted and cackled like overwrought hens.
The show was fantastic, I loved every minute and the experience of seeing him let me see Las Vegas in a slightly different light. It’s a playground for adults who want to blow a lot of money and have a lot of fun. Thanks Tom.

Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh! Tom Jones!!!


About EF Sweetman

writing, reading, pretty much everything noir
This entry was posted in 1, Blogroll, cautionary tales, essay, Music, Observations, winter and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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