Sunday, June 26, 2016

What Happens In Vegas

I have to give the Queen Mother and Royal Father props for taking your wee servant and his wee brother to Las Vegas in 1977. They could have justifiably left us to stay with The Queen Grandmother, but I gather one of two things precluded this:

1) A realization that the Queen Grandmother would have spoiled the heck out of both of us

2) Queen Motherly instincts, including her tendency to worry -- which she got from the Queen Grandmother

The MGM Grand was posh enough to have both room service and babysitting service. As I told you three years ago, we got two different sitters on two different nights, and we still got ourselves into trouble for marking up the bathroom mirror with white crayon. Mom threw a minor fit about it, as much as she could throw while on vacation. I remember her telling me she had to clean it off. I think the maid did, instead.

This was the Vegas of the bad old days, the days when the mob was skimming casinos and you could get clipped if you got caught counting cards in the wrong place. The Royal Father had to be there for some pharmacists' convention. Between meetings, he and Mom played some slots and came back up to the room with what looked like cups full of pennies. I found it hard to believe they would put such effort into winning cups of dirty pennies.

I don't think they tried the table games. In later years, Dad became a semi-expert in playing Caribbean Stud Poker when he wound up at one of the tribal casinos as part of a business outing. He got on a hot streak and passed on a chance to see Wayne Newton. You can discuss among yourselves whether that was a winning bet.

Beyond the casino, the MGM had a movie theater and jai alai, a sport I still can't believe people bet money on. And in a roped-off section, they had the MGM lion -- a living, breathing, and in my case, sleeping lion. I gather it had to be tame. Around the lion exhibit they had several pictures of Vegas showgirls posing with it. Years later, after the devastating fire and a move to a new location, they created a new, enclosed habitat.

The MGM had a gigantic pool, and as was the rule at just about any hotel we stayed it, your wee servant had to go for a swim. I could see the huge sign for the now-defunct Dunes casino next door. At night we took a drive down the strip so I could marvel over all the flashing lights before a hot-dog dinner at Sambo's (which I remind you comes from the names of the two founders, not the racial epithet).

"That hot dog was a little spicy," the Queen Mother said when we got back to the hotel room. She insisted I take a Tums tablet, whether I needed it or not.

I came home with a little slot-machine bank as a souvenir, along with the stationery I was accustomed to taking from hotel rooms, the paper and carbon remains of the airline ticket and several magazines. The back of one showed a photo montage of the various dancers from various Vegas shows.

In a foreshadowing image, a couple was dancing a stately minuet.

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