Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I keep picturing his socks.

In February 2007, I went to Las Vegas with my mother-in-law. I realize that, for some people, that may sound like the exact opposite of a vacation, but it really was a fantastic trip - so good that I brought Steve there a few months later. My mother-in-law, Jean, is a good friend and, as it turned out, was a perfect travel companion. (She even supplied Immodium when my IBS acted up.)

We traipsed up and down the Strip, taking pictures of the fabulous over-the-top architecture, visiting all the side shows. We walked so much that I bought my first pair of Crocs for my sore feet! (The most comfortable footwear I've ever owned!) Those hotels/casinos look close together on a map, but each one takes up at least a city block. You walk a LOT in Vegas. Bring your most comfortable shoes. The picture above is one I took of the Dale Chihuly installation in the lobby at the Bellagio.

We saw Mamma Mia and Cirque du soleil's Mystique. We saw brides in full regalia being escorted by their grooms through grand casinos. And we even ventured off the strip to visit the Las Vegas Natural History Museum. That last stop is probably the most unusual thing we did in Vegas, since Sin City is not known for its preservation of natural history. But it was a fun side trip, taking us away from the hustle and bustle (and cigarette smoke) of the Strip.

Being brave travellers, we took the city bus. Getting there wasn't hard: the special Strip bus took us right to the depot, driving by all the infamous, tacky wedding chapels, including drive-through ones. From the depot we caught a direct bus to the museum a couple of miles away. Getting back was a little trickier. The bus only came once an hour. We had planned to call a taxi, but the museum staffer told us that taxis wouldn't come to this end of the strip. That was a bad sign. But with no other options, we crossed the street and waited for a bus. I don't know about Jean, but I was glad it was still daylight.

Eventually, the bus showed up; we climbed on along with two gangsta-looking dudes who had joined us at the stop. It took us back to the depot, where we got off and waited for the Strip bus.

And waited. And waited.

At one point, a middle-aged man in a suit walked hurriedly to the depot and approached a waiting passenger. They chatted for a bit, then the suited man turned around and walked back to where he'd come from. Some time later, we saw him walking toward the depot again, this time holding the arm of a woman who looked like she was walking on broken glass. Clearly, her feet were killing her. She held a small cluster of roses by their stems, flowers hanging down dejectedly. She was not smiling. They arrived at the depot, where they stood and waited. If I'd had a seat to offer her, I would have.

Finally, the bus came, and everyone climbed aboard. The couple went to the upper deck and scored plum seats right at the front of the bus. Jean and I sat kitty-corner behind them. He placed his foot up on the window sill. He was wearing black dress loafers with white designer socks, with the designer's name stitched in black across the top. She was wearing pointed-toe shoes that looked a size too small. We could hear them talking in some European language - not French or German, perhaps Dutch? They weren't laughing. By the time we saw the photo folder in his hands, with the words "Our Wedding" embossed on the front, we'd figured out that they were newlywed patrons of one of those chapels on the Strip.

And all Jean and I could think was, "You'd think he could've sprung for a taxi!" Heck, he could've given her a piggyback, and they could have laughed their way to the bus depot.

They got off at the Bellagio and commenced the city-block-long walk up to the lobby. I hoped her feet were feeling better, but I doubted it.

Even now, I can't quite get my head around it. Why spring for an expensive hotel but skimp on the transportation to and from the actual wedding? I can understand the spontaneous excitement of an ironic Vegas wedding at one of the kitschy kiosques, thumbing your nose at all the overwrought trappings of today's exorbitant $200,000 weddings.

But these two were doing it in all seriousness: they'd dressed up in their "best" - comfort be damned. She didn't even take her shoes off on the bus.

And now, 3 1/2 years after seeing this couple, it occurs to me that I've been blaming him all this time when, for all I know, it was she who decided not to hire a taxi. Maybe she calculated that they could either take a taxi or eat dinner that night. And perhaps she rejected the offer of being carried.

No matter how you slice it, it just made me sad. It's just such a depressing and inauspicious beginning to their marriage. I do wish they'd laughed, just once. Then I could imagine one of them asking, "Are we having fun yet?" And that would give me hope that they recognized that this "special day" was not turning out as they'd envisioned it, but that all would be okay, because they would find some fun in it and be able to laugh about it later.
In any case, despite that couple's misery, Jean and I had a great time and would love to go back to Vegas some day with both our husbands. And Crocs.

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