During a Father’s Day text conversation with Max, aka Mesomorph aka my younger son, he mentioned that he was traveling to Las Vegas later this month. Paternal curiosity (and the fact that I am occasionally called upon to subsidize his rent) prompted me to ask about the motivation for the trip. The response? “It’s on my ‘Before-30 Bucket List.'”
Now, one could argue that the classic TV father, recognizing that “Bucket List” derives from a “list of things to do before you kick the bucket [i.e., die],” might have said to himself something on the lines of
Bad News: My son has a terminal illness that will result in his death with a year
Good News: Maybe the Make A Wish folks will pay for his trip to Las Vegas
I admit, however, that my first reaction was actually
“Before-30 Bucket List?” Is that a thing now?
I did at least have the wherewithal to refrain from such inquiries. Instead, I reminded him that he had already accomplished this task, “Don’t you remember – I took you and your brother to Las Vegas when you were kids.”
Indeed, in 1994, an era when Sin City was marketing itself as family-friendly, I took Max and Sam (five and seven years old, respectively) to Las Vegas. Julie was trying to revise her novel – a process that was notably hampered when she shared the house with two small whirling dervishes – so when the elementary school’s Spring Break coincided with the NCAA Final Four (in 1994, casino sport books were one of the few locations to watch the big game on an appropriately big screen), I recognized this as a case of cosmic serendipity and arranged to hit Vegas with the offspring. As a bonus, Russ, my medical school buddy, was silly enough to agree to join us there.
It was only on presenting our travel voucher at the hotel that things went weird.
On our side of the reception desk were me, a mid-forties, middle class male Caucasian, Sam & Max, two tiny but incredibly handsome Black dudes, and Carrie (aka Sam & Max’s nanny), a tall, twenty-something, show-girl gorgeous redhead. On the other side of the reception desk was a flummoxed clerk who, given her role in Las Vegas, one would have thought had seen it all. Apparently, we were the exception.
Receptionist: I see you’ve reserved two rooms. So, you and, erm, Carrie will be in one room and the youngsters in the other?
Me: No, Carrie and the children will be in one room and I’ll be in the other.
Receptionist: [Winking – literally] Oh, of course.
Me: [Desperately trying not to reflexively wink back] Yes, that’s how things will be tonight – but tomorrow …
Me: Dr Hall will be joining us tomorrow. He’ll be staying in my room.
Receptionist: [Winking] Oh, of course.
The trip itself was a delight. We visited Hoover Dam, Ethel M Chocolates, attended a couple of innocuous shows (I seem to recall trained canines), watched the NCAA basketball finals on a sportsbook’s giant screen, and were enchanted by the luxury of an ATM on each floor and the ability to play Keno in every room of the hotel – including the men’s toilets. None of us gambled a dollar (although Sam was tempted after observing a batch of grandmotherly sorts smoking, drinking, and pulling slot machine handles at 7 AM while we were en route to the pool).
Anyhow, when I asked “Do you remember that I took you and your brother to Las Vegas when you were kids?” Max’s response was
I should have clarified that my ‘Before-30 Bucket List’ item was was ‘Achieving The Full Las Vegas Experience.’
Update: Max Makes It To Las Vegas
Note: The photo atop this post was taken just before Max’s high school prom. It’s the most Las Vegasy image of him I found.