Vegas on a shoestring


They say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas: unless you are traveling with me. Every year, my husband and I attend the National Billiards Championship where his “pool” team plays 8-ball with some of the very best players in the country. He’s pretty good. When the team isn’t playing, I find a way to excel in purse shopping, stuffing my face and sipping multiple piña coladas by the swimming pool.

Lots of people share my talents in Vegas. To assist me in my quest, I invite one of my children to tag along on the trip. My daughter celebrated her 21st birthday in Vegas, one of my sons won a major poker tournament there and another — you know who you are — loved the city so much, he informed me on the last day of the trip he was not leaving. Then there’s the son with probably the funniest Vegas experience, arriving with only $6 in his pocket and leaving three days later with $90.

Dan arrived with the “movie version” of Vegas playing in his head. He brought a beautiful, new designer suit I had bought him at the outlet mall, a clean shirt, flip flops, shorts and a bathing suit. He also packed a great attitude, which places him ahead of the millions of people each year who always seem to leave half-drunk and disappointed.

He wore his fancy suit everywhere, even on the hottest of days. He willingly joined us at the comedy show, laughing in all the right places. He sang and danced to the tune of Motown songs unfamiliar to him.

He even gambled conservatively. I was sure an alien was inhabiting my son’s body.

By the third day, he was up; he had turned his $6 into $90, tired and ready to go home like most people would. On the way to the airport, with his head still in the clouds, he suddenly noticed the homeless people still waking up on the back streets of Vegas. Reality set in.

“This is a happy place, and a really sad place, too, mom,” Dan reflected.

I cried later thinking about what he said and how much I loved him for it. Years from now, when memories of the bright lights and the casinos all run together in my mind, I will always remember my sweet son — the poor college boy who came to Vegas with nothing and left with everything that mattered.

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