Our road trip to Vegas takes five hours and change. Once we got past San Bernardino and well into the desert I announced it was safe to drink and drive and ride. Therefore, we pulled over and had some cocktails. And smokes. Then we hit the road again. We stayed on Interstate 15. It’s a straight shot into Vegas. Lots of desert. Not much traffic as well, even though it was a Friday. For once, I had planned ahead and made a reservation at the Plaza Hotel and Casino, downtown: Glitter Gulch. I never much cared for ‘The Strip’ during my visits to Vegas, but as this was Shonnie’s first trip there, I promised me I would set aside some time to show her the Glitter-That-Was-Not-Glitter-Gulch.
“Are we there yet?” she asked, rather mockingly about an hour out of San Bernardino.
“You need to pee again?” I shot back over strains of Jimmy Buffett and wind coming from my half-open window.
“Yeah. Matter of fact, I do.”
“Wimmen!” I said, as I pulled off onto the breakdown lane.
“I ain’t gonna pee here!” She protested.
“Look Darlin’, See those big ol’ rocks over there? You can go pee behind one of those. Nobody will see you.”
“Snakes,” she said.
“Snakes. I don’t like snakes.”
“Okay, I will come with you. Just let me git my M60 outta the trunk.”
Ignoring my piercing wit, she said, “I won’t be able to piss if you’re watching me.”
“You’d prefer the rattlers watch instead?”
“Okay, but you turn your head at the last minute.”
“I never figured you for a prude Honey.”
“Fuck you. Les go. I gotta go.”
And off we went. There were no snakes that day, so mission accomplished; no apparent casualties, except for maybe some ants who could not scurry away fast enough.
Back on the road. The rest of the trip was pretty much uneventful. We arrived to Vegas about six in the evening. As we drove along The Strip I pointed out all the hotels / casinos which had been graced by my patronage (and my money) during past trips. She was impressed and I could see her eyes lighting up. Shame it was still daylight and she could not see the glory of the Neon City that is Las Vegas. Well, time enough for that later, I mused.
We finally arrived at the very end of Fremont Street and checked in to my old Nemesis: The Union Plaza. I have always had a love/hate relationship with The Plaza, but like a bad marriage, I just could never seem to break it off.
We found the way to our room, which for me was mediocre (I have been around the world, remember? And spent time in some fine, really fine hotels), but to Shonnie, who was not so much a world traveler—more of a life traveler—the room was amazing. She immediately did a thorough inventory of all the ‘accoutrements’ in the room.
“Hey Lance!” she exclaimed. “Come look at this shit! There are little tiny soap bars in the bathroom. And little tiny shampoo bottles. And some paper thingy on the toilet. How I’m supposed to pee with that paper there? And look at this!” she said, walking out of the head and back into the room, “There’s a coffee pot and Coffee! And Look at this here! A remote control for the TV!”
*heavy sigh* from me. “Shonnie, welcome to the First World.”
“Smart ass! Hey! Just look at that bed! Is that one of them water-beds?”
“I seriously do not think so. This ain’t Caesar’s Palace, Hun. We are in the part of Vegas known as the home of ‘The Sawdust Joints’.”
“Oh… Well, I like it.”
She walked over to the little desk beside the TV and picked up the room service menu. “This is my idea of Heaven”, she said.
“We can have room service! I’ve never had room service. What should I order? I’m hungry.”
“Honey, order anything you want.”
“No. I’ll tell you what I want and you order it. I don’t wanna talk to some stranger on the phone about food.”
“Very well,” I said. “Go ahead. Take your time. Then I will order us up some supper. Wanna drink while you ‘peruse’ the menu?”
“While I what?”
“Decide what you want to eat.”
“Yeah… reach me a beer and my cigs while I study this. So many choices!”
She was enjoying her stay so far. And I was loving her enjoying.
“Have you decided what you want for supper?” I asked after a bit.
“Yeah, but I caint make out what some of this stuff is, so I am shopping ‘price’”
“Baby, you don’t havta shop price. I have money. Order what you want.”
“No, I mean I am shopping price. Gonna order the most expensive thing on this menu and see what I get.”
Good Gawd! I am loving this woman! “You go right ahead Darlin’.”
She had picked out, what she called, a baby steak, based upon the photo in the menu (Filet mignon) and then said, “I love the picture of that steak but it looks kinda small. Can you add some taters or something with it?”
“Don’t worry Honey, I will take care of it. I am gonna go for ice first, then I will order.”
“The Seven Eleven is way far from here,” she protested. “Don’t you leave me alone.”
“You really are country, ain’t ya? And you called me ‘City Boy’. Baby, the ice is just down the hall. Be right back.”
Over her protestations, I went and fetched a bucket of ice. When I returned, she announced she wanted a shower:
“I’m gonna freshen up. You make sure that room service guy don’t come into my bathroom while I’m in there.”
“Shonnie, I will gallantly stand my post just outside your door. No worry.”
“Okay then. See ya in a bit.” And she disappeared into the bathroom.
The food arrived while she was still in the head, showering. I tipped the dude and laid out our supper table. Opened a bottle of red wine I had tacked onto the order along with my ‘steak’, a semi rare cheeseburger (I am a simple man: simple tastes). Anyhow, presentation is everything. I had also requested a single red rose for ornament and I placed that ‘just so’ too on the table.
She yelled at me from behind the bathroom door: “Is he gone?”
“Yes Babe. He is. Come on out.”
She opened the door, enveloped in a cloud of steam, like something out of film noir, wearing a hotel white cotton bath robe, and waltzed into the bedroom. I was impressed. She looked stunning and I felt one more brick in my emotional wall crumble.
“Let’s eat! I’m starving!” she announced gruffly in that coarse gravelly voice I had grown to love so well.
We had our meal to the strains of ‘Joni Mitchell’ singing from Hejira on my brought boom box. Neither one of us had any desire to watch TV, as we were too much into music. The TV with the remote was just a novelty for her; she had no desire to actually watch it. Nor did I.
After our meal, she asked me, “So, you gonna show me about this Fool’s Paradise Town of yours or what?”
“In due time. In due time. Now take off that robe and lie back and relax. I have something I want to do to you first. Then I am gonna teach you how to ‘count’ down the deck in Blackjack.”