Last week, I returned – only two members short* – from my family/Vegas vacation. While “family” and “Las Vegas” put together may sound like an oxymoron, the trip actually made for a great (and appropriate) time. It turns out, when you don’t go to the whorehouses, you don’t have to actually look at their main attractions. Sure there are half-naked floozies on every piece of trash along the strip, but stepping on sequined boobs is just inevitable when there’s that much foot traffic.
The fam and I went to shows, gambled (losing $40 feels far les depressing when you had 15 free drinks in the process), walked 20ish miles, and avoided becoming absolutely sick of one another. Probably.
And if you ask me what was the best part, I might say everything. (With the least favorite part being cigarette smoke; my lungs are still barfing.) There was ability to creep through fancy hotels, an abundance of people watching, the availability of top-notch entertainment – like a puppeteer/singing impressionist or an illusionist who stashes snowmobiles.
If they’d been smart about it, they’d have called each other by their given names, not Pinky, Benny Eggs, or Jimmy the Weasel. No good-standing taxpayer is nicknaming themselves after a breakfast food. They might as well called one another “In-a-gang Charlie” or “Money Laundering Paul”.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the mob – something about wearing suits while screwing people over is fascinating. Sure, in practice the job sounds like a real crap pile, but that didn’t mean I was any less interested in going through Vegas’s Mob Attraction. It’s a museum/interactive experience where visitors get to fake join the mafia – or in my case fake try to join the mafia. Despite being a quarter-ish Italian, I failed miserably – which proves I’m just not meant to be a gangster. Even if you lie to cops and make friends with big Tony, he’ll still have you capped in a warehouse alley.
The Ride There/Meet Mechanic Bernie
Before every good trip comes the effort of getting there. For most people, traveling 1,200 miles means flying or boarding the Titanic. But for my family, it means purchasing a 1993 Ford Econoline the day before the trip and driving 37 hours. And if you think that sounds like a questionable idea, you’re right. Yes, my Dad had it checked out, insured, and tagged – which can easily be done in 24 hours when you live in a small town. But as it turns out, even a preemptive lookover can’t diagnose an exploding fuel pump.
In a “lucky” twist, the van started sputtering 100 yards before an exit. We pulled off, got the name of the world’s most effort-givingest mechanic, Bernie, and had him tow us to his shop. Within only minutes, the auto parts man showed up to unlock his doors for an unrelated instance. We got a fuel filter, Bernie made the switch, and nothing happened.
With every other reachable parts salesman at the lake, we sat. Wonk, Manny, and Bernie were on the phone for hours. They talked to out-of-towners, city managers, and anyone else who would actually answer their phone on a Sunday afternoon.
Fifteen or so calls in, Bernie and his brother, being the only two mechanics not high on lake, agreed to make a two-hour drive – one way – to retrieve the part.
(Meanwhile the women sat in a café that served boxed mac and cheese and 44 ounce waters.)
It was a wait, but Bernie got us fixed up real nice. Had it not been for him, all seven of us would have been forced to spend the night in Stratton, CO. – a town I never want to visit again. If Bernie wants to be friends, it’s his turn to come to Kansas. I know where he can get a traveling van real cheap.
*On the way back we dropped off Manny in Colorado, like a homeless man, so he could mountain climb with friends. And my sister’s boyfriend, who I’m debated whether or not to mention further, purely out of spite, took a detour to his hometown.