What happens in Vegas

March 22, 2021

hopefully doesn’t happen anywhere else

   A .50 caliber machine gun can fire between 450 and 1300 rounds per minute to a maximum range of more than 8000 yards. When the bullet impacts bone, the bone explodes in shards that themselves travel at the speed of a low-velocity bullet. In other words, when you’re hit by one of these .50 caliber shells, your own soon-to-be skeletal remains become a multi-firing weapon of its own. And there’s a place in Las Vegas where you can fire off one of these boy toys for the modest sum of $29.60. I saw the ad on a billboard along the Strip.

   I have to interrupt here to share a more recent anecdote. It relates to my last blog, so even though it doesn’t fit this narrative, I want to get it down while the theme is still fresh.

Photo Credit: Carol Madigan

   Earlier today Carol was on the phone trying to get an Amazon authorization to return an item she never got around to using. A no brainer for Carol, right? The wrinkle though was that the return period had ended last August. In 2020.

   Most people would say, game over, and find some lesser liked friend or relative to regift to. Instead, she worked the chat room associate up the chain until a career-savvy supervisor closed the case number down, remaining in the chat room long enough to swat away Carol’s backup position of an exchange. (The objective of the day’s initiative was to get an Apple watch out of the negotiation.) She settled for the consolation price of a $5 credit. You’ve been a wonderful contestant. Thanks for playing. If she was upset at all, it was only because she couldn’t display her usual return magic for my benefit.

As far as my gambling skills go, the house is more like a bank, where after making a number of deposits, I quietly leave, secure in my belief my money is safely out of my hands and I no longer have to worry about losing it. Again, that is.

    It was my idea to cruise the famous Las Vegas landmark. Carol had been many times as the moll for Mike’s pursuit of his “system” for earning casino points. I just wanted to quickly drive the Strip, and then keep driving. I don’t have any moral position on casinos, especially the Indian ones, which I consider just retribution for the white man’s depredations. (The famous Land for Wallet treaty.) In my case, it’s just personal. Most casino gamblers believe they can beat the house. As far as my gambling skills go, the house is more like a bank, where after making a number of deposits, I quietly leave, secure in my belief my money is safely out of my hands and I no longer have to worry about losing it. Again, that is.

   My reaction to the Strip was not what I expected. I knew going in it was all illusion and fakery. But what I saw was how much time, effort and expense had gone into creating the illusion and fakery.

   “Look,” Carol said, “there’s the Eiffel Tower.”

   “No, it isn’t.”

   “And there’s Venice.”

   “No, it isn’t.”

   “And there’s New York.”

   “Stop it!”

   Carol wanted to turn around at the end of the Strip and go back again. That sounded like going to the Ice Capades twice in the same lifetime. I settled for a compromise, posing in the foreground of a neon Las Vegas sign and arch at the end of the Strip. I posed directly to the right of the Elvis drive-in wedding chapel. What a perfect way to sum up the illusion and fakery that is Vegas: lose all your money, but gain the “till death do us part” of someone you’d met that morning.

   And don’t forget there’s that .50 caliber shooting range, where you can effect that “till death do us part” vow before the day is done.

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