Vacation days are over. Sorry about the delay.
Meanwhile, there’s this…
I don’t have any idea what you may or may not think of the adult playground called Las Vegas. My conclusion is that if you’re not hooked on the craps table or any of the other vices that Vegas sponsors that are calculated to separate you from your house payment, or you consider $100 an outrageous amount of money to pay for a show — plus tip for a decent seat — the city is among the most boring places ever to spend time. It really is. “Been there, done that” most have been invented there.
Then again, if you pretty much foreswear those pretenders for excitement and perhaps entertainment, it can be a worthwhile venue for just kicking back. From time to time we do exactly that, oh, say once a year. Last week it was that time.
Kris was to fly a charter to Germany, and nice guy me decided to book us at the Mirage where we could rendezvous after her return flight that would bring her to Las Vegas. My thought was that she would have spent days flapping around Europe and would really enjoy relaxing for two or three days closer to home.
She liked the idea.
So I drove over on Wednesday morning, checked into the hotel and met her in the lobby at about ten that evening, she ending more than 14 hours in the air.
Now here’s the thing: If you’re contemplating just hanging out in Las Vegas and don’t place a premium on seeing pricey shows, nor proving once more that the city was built on the contributions of losers at the tables, check out the fees for hotel upgrades, and I do mean serious upgrades. Some years ago I discovered that you can get a rather plushy suite for one-third to one-fourth of the going weekend rates if you book for the middle of the week! Seriously. So we picked up snazzy digs — that normally cost in the neighborhood of $900 a night on Friday and Saturday — for just 200 bucks on Wednesday and Thursday.
Credit lean times in Sin City for most of that, with lots of empty tables in the casinos. In a way, that’s a bit perplexing. The golden years for the movies were in the Depression, made so by people who escaped their hard times in the dark, cool of a theater. You might expect such a reaction in the playgrounds, but it’s still not in evidence. There’s mostly people like us who can enjoy a bargain on our own terms.
For us, one thing we like to do is ramble over to the New York, New York Hotel and plop down at “The Times Square Bar,” there to sing along with two guys who bang out songs on pianos for a crowd of perhaps a hundred fans. Fun stuff. You order up and let ‘er rip, flat or sharp.
And this time, we got a bonus.
We took a cab from the Mirage to New York, New York, and less than 50 yards from our hotel the driver asked what we’d be doing at New York, New York.
“We’re going to sing,” Kris offered.
“Really?” the cabby said, and he immediately cranked up a genuinely awesome stereo in the cab and cued up Neil Diamond. “Let’s do it!!”
And we did. The three of us. Windows down, and us belting our hearts out, with much of “The Strip” as our audience, and with our driver leading the way, waving his arms and punching the brakes in time to the music.
“Sweet Caroline,” BRAKE-BRAKE-BRAKE!
“(coming to) America,” BRAKE-BRAKE-BRAKE!
On and on, with as many of Neil Diamond’s songs as we could cover in the 15-minute drive.
Mercy. It was, without question, the best cab ride anybody ever had in that city while still keeping his fly up.
We loved it, and ironically, we only stayed for a single session at the bar with dueling piano players. We’d already been to — and been — the best show in Las Vegas.