By: Monica Hall

I have no beef with Las Vegas.

In fact, it’s a swell place to marry on a lark.

I have done so.

More than once.

One lazy summer day in 1978,

My sweetheart sold his VW Squareback.

I cannot recall why he did so, but 700 bucks is nice padding,

In the front pocket of a pair of Levis.

The next day we stood holding hands at a counter:

Office of the County Clerk for Clark County Nevada.

I presented my California Driver’s License

to the irritable woman behind the counter.

My boyfriend absentmindedly left his at home.

The lady frowned at him, saying “good luck getting a drink”.

“And forget about spending any time in the casinos”.

“He’s 21 like me” I pleaded.

The lady shrugged, and our marriage began with a lie.

My new groom was 20.

We had no trouble drinking and gambling at Caesars.

“Let’s play slots” I said to Jay.

“Slots are for suckers” he said as he marched ahead swiftly.

“Haven’t you heard the term One-Armed Bandit?”

Jay plopped down at a Blackjack table.

Beside him sat a tan, bald man in a glorious white linen suit.

The man puffed a fragrant cigar.

I thought to myself that his suit cost several times more than Jay’s Volkswagen.

A fetching woman in a delectable tangerine dress approached the table.

She kissed the bald man on the cheek.

I naively thought she was the man’s daughter,

Until he pulled her close by her firm derriere.

He handed her a stack of chips from his winnings,

And she sauntered away like a graceful lioness.

Jay amassed a respectable stack of chips swiftly,

And I was impressed by his self-confidence and grit.

I departed for the ladies room,

And became lost in the casino for 15 minutes.

When I made my way back to Jay,

The chips had disappeared,

And Jay sat humiliated at emptying his wallet,

in the time it took me to empty my bladder.

We drank fifty cent Heinekens and argued about nothing.

The trip was not a complete bust however;

I savored the best Eggs Benedict of my life at 2:00 am.

Jay and I parted company without much fuss,

And years later I returned to Sin City with my sons in tow.

They delighted in the arcade games,

While I played craps nearby, barely knowing the rules.

I gained bravado from several exceptional Bloody Marys,

and threw dice in succession while strangers cheered me on.

Somewhere along the way I have lost my zeal for Vegas,

My last trip having been perhaps eight years ago.

Everything smelled of carpet cleaner and inexpensive cologne.

The strip was teeming with young unattractive drunken hordes,

who bore no resemblance to the sleek media ads.

I pitied too the sullen faces of those who waited in the buffet lines.

They wore the desperate look of the unlucky,

having squandered the last of borrowed money.

I envisioned muffins and croissants being tucked into purses

and pockets, as tasty precious crumbs for the long ride home.

Nevertheless, Vegas thrives without my wampum.

The five hour drive from L.A. is quite tolerable my workmates insist.

Friday afternoon workplace conversations never vary.

“Whatcha doin this weekend?” I am asked.

My reply is predictable: “Buy groceries, go to the beach, wash my car”.

“We’re going to Vegas”, my work buddy will squeal. “Leaving after work!”

“Dontcha just love Vegas?” my friend persists.

“Only when I’m drunk” I sigh.

“Or engaged”.


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