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April 3, 2005

Leaving Las Vegas

April 3, 2005 | By |

It wasn’t just the horrible hotel (see below) — we were glad to be leaving Las Vegas altogether.

I’d been to Vegas before; so had Jack. But as adults it’s easier to mentally edit what we see. Viewing the town through the Penta-Posse’s eyes was a whole new revelation.

The first night we arrived, we went to eat at one of the few places still open: a pizzeria in the hotel, right in the center of the casino. The Dancer had to go to the bathroom, and we set off through the cacophony of the slot machines, me holding her hand tightly.

She loved the casino — skipping and chattering away in excitement. “Mommy,” she said, “I want to play the games. . .” Then, to my lack of response, insistently: “I want to play the Barbie game!”

My head snapped up and I looked where she was pointing: an I Dream of Jeannie slot machine. Suddenly I got it. The Dancer is four years old. The more I observed the gambling, the more infantilism I saw.

It’s definitely geared on a childish level: the lights and music all held a strong appeal particularly for the Dancer and the Diva. The Dreamer observed that it was purposefully hypnotic.

“What’s wrong with gambling?” I answered the question again and again, which forced me to keep re-examining my answer.

First, there’s the unjust enrichment involved. But, hey, it’s just a game, right? It can be fun. And you can put yourself on a budget and just plan to lose. Lighten up a little?

But, second there’s the addiction. So many people just sitting there in a catatonic stupor punching a button over, and over, and over. Some of them had a credit card inserted in the machine, attached to their shirts by a clip and a cord, almost like an I.V. drip.

And if it’s all in fun, what’s up with all the pawn shops??

I kept coming back to guilt by association. And if it’s all just in fun, what’s up with all the female exploitation?

Dirty girls . . . in the mud. . . on the bucking bronco!

“Ooh, yuck, naked girls mud wrestling?” asked the Diva. (Darn it, when did she learn to read so well?)

“Nah,” says the Dude (who was getting way too much of an education on this trip. . . !) “they’ll be in bikinis, right Mom?”

“Yeah, well, it’ll be thongs and push-up bras,” muttered the Dreamer.

Hmmm, thought I, glancing her way, she’s picking this up quickly.

“And why,” added the Dreamer, in full 11-year-old femme-power mode, “is it always girls, anyway?”

Me, I was thinking: Enough real life education, how soon can we get out of this city?

Not soon enough, but finally we were headed out towards I-15 North, slowly making our way one last time down the bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Strip.

Suddenly, from the back of the truck, we hear the sweet, clear, innocent voice of the Diva:

‘Bye, ‘bye, Bally’s booty!

My head jerked around, and there she was, towering above the Strip, the larger-than-life billboard Bally girl, in all her g-string glory.

(Note to self: Where did Diva get that term?)

Finally, a right turn, another right turn and we headed north towards the snow-capped mountains and fresh air. . . the lights of Vegas receding in the rear-view mirror. Shaking the dust off our feet. ‘Bye, ‘bye indeed.

I was almost afraid to look back.

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