Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Our Epic Night in Vegas

You’ve probably seen that survey going around Facebook recently where you list ten things you don’t like that other people seem crazy about.  Here are a few that would be on my list.

  1. Beer. Gross.
  2. Chickens.  I just do not understand the whole keeping chickens thing at all.  Their creepy, scaly feet and wobbly combs give me the heebie jeebies.  When I was growing up in Bangladesh, I was around chickens frequently (though we never had any), and I was permanently scarred by how disgusting and stupid they are.  I mean, one chicken poops, and another comes along and pecks at its poop looking for, I don’t know, food?  No thank you!  As an adult, I’ve had many friends who keep them, and even the biggest fans have told me chicken dramas that assure me that I don’t need them in my life.  My favorite story is of a chick that was supposed to be a hen turning out to be a rooster.  The best part is, they’d named him “Princess,” and Princess had a murderous nature, chasing the family out of their own beautiful yard, and raining terror on the UPS guy.  Other friends have told me about broody hens who ate their own eggs, and then they had to do intervention and some sort of chicken therapy.  Who has time for this?!?!  NO.  Just no.
  3. Las Vegas.

Oooh, I know at least half of you reading are already mad at me, yelling at your screens, “HOW DARE YOU?!”  Some are probably rolling your eyes, maybe calling me Debbie Downer or the fun police. But I’m begging you to just hear (er, read?) me out for a second.

I’ve disliked Vegas since my first memory of it.  We stopped for lunch at some big casino there on a cross-country road trip when I was ten, and it was so gaudy and depressing, it seemed to color the actual air.  I kept trying to give it another chance at intervals through the years, but I’ve never been able shake the initial impression that everything is a cheap copy of a much better original.  All is for sale but worth nothing.

Despite my severe dislike for the place, we ended up there for one, unforgettable night.  It was the summer we moved to Korea, when I put 6,000 miles on our rental car.  We had promised our kids a day at a water park as part of the trip, and to be fair, Vegas had a pretty cool one.  It was sort of our final hurrah before I dropped off Matt in Los Angeles, so that he could fly to the East Coast for his training while the kids and I continued our adventures.  

If I recall correctly, it was 112 degrees Fahrenheit that day.  I opted out of the water park with Annalee because I wasn’t sure what they had for little ones, and I sure didn’t want to spend the day baking in the sun.  Instead, she and I shopped a little and had lunch, then picked the others up in the afternoon.  I wanted to keep driving, but Matt and the others were tired, so I gave in and we got a hotel for the night.  I don’t remember if it was Hotwire or Priceline, but we used one of the websites where you don’t know quite what you’re getting until you have it and booked two rooms.  

It was a hotel we hadn’t heard of, so we followed the GPS directions into the city.  We could see the famous hotels and off sort of away from them was this hotel standing tall into the sky, adorned with an enormous — and I mean, truly, several stories high and several rooms wide — picture of a woman’s bare legs lifted skyward, playfully kicking off a pair of red high heels.  

“Classy,” I remarked, and Matt half-joked, “Watch, I bet that’s our hotel.”  He was right.

Oh, but it kept getting better.  

The parking garage was one of the most stressful we had parked in prior to Korea.  We finally got inside the hotel and checked in by a row slot machines, thereupon discovering that our rooms were several floors apart.  Slightly annoyed already, we piled all seven of us into an elevator with a few other people, and punched in the numbers for the floors.  What followed was an elevator ride so terrifying it could have been an amusement park attraction.  It slowly shimmied its way up the building, shaking so violently at intervals and — I’m not exaggerating — bouncing till we gasped and clutched the hand rails, and one woman in the elevator even screamed a little.  We decided to all get out at the floor with the first room, and somehow we lost the gumption to split up and go further on the Elevator of Doom to the second room.  Exhausted, everyone fell asleep early watching some stupid show on one of the two channels we had, either on the floor (I know, gross) or piled into one of the two full-size beds.  That’s right, seven of us.

Around midnight, our room began to literally throb with the music of some Bon Jovi cover band that was apparently doing a concert right outside the hotel.  The overpriced bottles of water we hadn’t touched that stood on the dresser with a couple of glasses were actually shaking, and the frames of the pictures on the walls bounced merrily to the beat.  I heard Matt sigh in annoyance, and I knew I didn’t have to tell him how thoroughly unhappy I was.

After a few minutes of this, one of our kids sat up with a gasp.

“Guys! Do you hear that?”

“No, what?” Matt asked dryly.

“That music!”

“What music?” He deadpanned.  

“You seriously don’t hear it?” She sounded panicked.

I snorted and burst out laughing.  “Honey,” I said when I could finally breathe again.  “How could we not hear it?  It’s shaking our beds.”  

“Oh,” she lay back down.  “I thought maybe Jesus was coming, and you were going to be left behind.”  

Okay.  Sometimes people in our family have been known to say or do crazy things while waking up from an especially deep sleep.  But this one kind of took the cake.  Left behind?!  Why???  Maybe because we were with our five kids in a hotel in Vegas with a giant pair of bare legs on the outside??!!

Also worth mentioning, I’m still trying to decide if I should be concerned that she thought Jesus would return rocking to a Bon Jovi soundtrack instead of the trumpets they talk about in the Bible.  Let’s just be honest here, Bon Jovi is pretty good music.

Anyway, the concert lasted till about 2 am, and we finally got back to sleep for a while.  Before leaving, we warned the kids to make sure they had everything in their suitcases because there was no way we were braving the elevators to come back to the room.  They obeyed, and we made it out alive — and grateful.

Last summer, I was clearing out an old suitcase we’d used on that trip but not since then and found the “Do Not Disturb” door hanger above tucked away in it, as pictured above.  Yep, that’s the actual hanger.  Of the hotel that we took our kids to.  The party sure was epic.  Oh yes, it was.  

Anyway, I can’t claim this story has an important point to it, except for maybe this.  Maybe today you’re feeling drained as a parent, like you’re screwing up left and right.  But take heart: if you didn’t take your kids to a hotel with some lady’s legs emblazoned all over them, how bad can you be? 

And also, maybe being at home isn’t so bad.  At least if you’re not in Vegas. ;-)


Further reading, if you’re interested:

— More armchair travel, from my childhood, when my dad took us to an almost-warzone: Shangri-La

— More about my fear and dislike of birds in general (it’s not just chickens): For the Birds.