Egads, yesterday’s post sounded like I’m tripping through the tulips at Disneyland. Whatever happened to Sin City? Well, it’s here, all right, but because of my traveling companion, I don’t participate much. Dh works quite a bit here, he’s had prostate cancer, he’s a teetotaler (drinking only Pepsi), chooses not to gamble, and has never, even once in his life, had even one puff of a cigarette. But he often stands between me and disaster, and I probably wouldn’t have gotten to come here without him!
Meanwhile, beneath all the glitter, Las Vegas definitely has its seedy, degraded, tragic side. There’s evidence of it everywhere you look. If you’ve seen the movies, Casino or The Cooler, you know what I mean. Perhaps the saddest movie is Leaving Las Vegas, which always makes me cry.
Las Vegas has even touched members of our immediate family back in Nebraska. When the couple (who shall remain nameless) first came to Vegas, the husband won $5,000 in a slot machine. They threw dollars on their hotel bed and jumped up and down on it, just like a scene from a movie. That hooked him, he began gambling heavier, and Harrah’s was always sending him letters to “comp” him for rooms and drinks. He began to see himself as something of a high roller. When the wife’s parents died, she received a nice sum of money as an inheritance and put it into Smith-Barney. I’m sure you can see where this is heading. . . One day, she phoned and casually asked what the balance was, and Smith Barney told her it was down to Zero. He had secretly gambled away all of her inheritance in Las Vegas. Divorce followed shortly after. What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.
The marble pillars at Caesar’s Palace aren’t real marble — they’re wood or plastic, covered with decorative paper. Not all the women look like showgirls, even if they mistakenly try to dress that way. The high roller businessmen who seem so cool actually have families back home. The romantic young couples often don’t have two pennies to rub together. Hardly anybody can afford the Armani and Chanel clothes in the shops.
What kills me is the feeling that many people here give off. It’s as if they’re plunging around, saying, “C’mon! It’s a short vacation! We’ve got to have FUN, damn it!” Forced, desperate fun that costs too much turns out not to be so fun, after all.
But hey! I shouldn’t sound so glum. If a person keeps perspective and a sense of reality — there is fun to be had here. Like everywhere else — a place is what you make of it, right?