March 4, 2015

It’s been a couple of days wrestling with car trouble and trips between the house and Firestone and Enterprise Rent a Car (transmission line leaking fluid) that added another $370 in costs to our overall debt, but at least that’s finally fixed. Tomorrow the landscaping guys come to estimate the repairs needed to our watering systems in both front and back, and, well, you get the point – while a Vegas weekend makes for a much-needed escape from reality, reality is always waiting to bite you in the a$$ upon your return.

But our Vegas weekend provided a much-needed break from sans reality. The “Friday Night in Vegas Presented by The Great White Shank” was a rousing success: a champagne reception at The Palazzo’s Laguna Champagne Bar got the proceedings off to a bubbly start, the meal we had Buddy V’s Ristorante was quite good, and Bob Anderson’s “FRANK The Man. The Music.” show at the Palazzo was excellent. Hearing a 32-piece orchestra live was positively thrilling. Anderson had Frank’s persona, mannerisms and vocal stylings down flat, but I thought he sounded more like Tony Bennett than The Chairman of the Board at times – hey, you be the judge. Following that, a walk over to Wynn and an outside-under-the-stars nitecap at the Parasol Down bar provided a perfect end to a “Ring a-Ding Ding” evening: when the night’s not too cool and a soft breeze is blowing it’s the stuff happy memories are made of.

Saturday was a day for golfing at Primm Valley. The day started off cool with more clouds than sun, but it soon turned sunny and breezy – something both of my Goodboys friends from snow-bound Massachusetts certainly appreciated. The golf was great (my swing change showing good progress but not quite there yet – more on that in a future post). Afterwards it was back to The Venetian and The Canyon Ranch Spa for a relaxing post-round whirlpool and sauna. We gathered at Delmonico’s for pre-dinner cocktails (if you love classic cocktails perfectly made there’s no place like it!) before heading off to one of our favorite haunts, The Peppermill, for steak and eggs in the restaurant and cocktails in the Fireside Lounge where we enjoyed renewing acquaintances with Bill the bartender before ending the night at Wynn’s cozy Parasol Up bar to enjoy watching the pretty people and size zero chicks coming and going over cocktails.

Sunday was a strange day. “Killer” Kowalski and I were up and running ahead of our pal “Doggy Duval” so we decided to grab an eye-opener at the bar in the center of The Venetian’s main casino – a huge octagonal marble bar with huge candelabras set at various stations along the way. We’d ordered our Bloody Marys when all of a sudden we heard a loud crash just to our left. My initial thought was that a waitress had tripped and fallen and broke a tray of drinks and glasses. Before either of us could see what happened there was a second loud crash, and glass came flying in front of us. We looked to our left and saw a group of Middle Eastern guys arguing and one of them was just wailing on one of those candelabras. The bartenders in front of us didn’t know what to do – they were as wide-eyed and glassy as the bar in front of Killer and me. I uttered a “what the (bleep) are you doing?” One of them comes over and says it’s OK. I reply, “No it’s not, you’re busting up the whole casino!” Killer grabs me and we skedaddle outta there just as the security gorillas showed up to put the kibosh on that nonsense.

I’ll admit, the two of us were shaken, and it cast a pall over the whole day. We found some peace and quiet back at the Palazzo’s champagne bar and calmed our shaking nerves – literally! – over Bloody Marys doubles and pondered what we had seen and what could have happened. I mean, what if those guys were carrying? What if they were terrorists instead of just assholes? I pegged them as Iranians but they could have easily been Jordanians or Saudis or Yemenis, but it sure got us thinking just the same. Later, after breakfast at The Mirage we stopped back at the crime scene to find everything business as usual; the only indicator of anything being amiss was a maintenance crew removing the shattered candelabra; they said each one of them were Italian-made and cost a cool $5 Gs. Hope that jackass thought his tirade was worth it.

The day turned cloudy and cool for golf at Jack Nicklaus’s Bear’s Best was a challenge for Killer and a struggle for yours truly. Jack might be a great ambassador for the game and a legend, but it’s obvious he doesn’t welcome or appreciate the games of high-handicap hackers like myself. Killer was challenged and I struggled off the tee – obviously more work to do in that regard – but we soldiered on before the day turned wet and socked in, causing us to call the proceedings after nine holes. The night turned rainy but dinner at Maggiano’s was both good and giving our wallets a much-needed break. After-dinner cocktails back at Parasol Up lasted well into the wee-small hours, finishing off at The Venetian’s now-legendary casino bar. It seemed only fitting: the place had stayed in Killer’s and my minds the whole day.

The boys had a heckuva time getting out of Vegas on Monday due to Jet Blue equipment problems, not arriving back in Massachusetts until near daybreak on Tuesday morning, but my drive back was uneventful, giving me time to ponder what my front lawn would look like after the plumbers came to hopefully transform the large piles of dirt into something manageable for Carmelo to put a new lawn over. Fortunately, they did come and did a great job. It’s certainly not a HOA showcase, but give it a few months (and more than a few dead presidents yet to be spent) and it will seem like just another front yard.

The awesome thing about Vegas is that you so look forward to getting there, you’re glad to get outta there after three days of action with the shirt still on your back, and after 2-3 days back home you can’t wait to get back there and do it all over again.

I’ll admit, I’m not there yet. But give me another couple of days and I think I’ll be ready.

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