Friday, June 29, 2012

Dear diary - America 4

Amended diary entry:

Here I am up at 5am. I'm pretty wrecked. Last night, we went to a tribute show (the 'The Rat Pack is Back!') at the Rio Casino, just off the Strip. We got the shuttle from a neighbouring hotel and voom.  
It was a long wait for the shuttle bus, mainly because we were still traumatised from our airport experience a few days previous and were anxious to be super early. While we were there, we met two nice but rather bracing ladies from Kansas City. They liked my ladybug backpack, I said thank you in my natural accent, and  it just went from there. They were extraordinarily friendly, which was lovely, but sadly I was not as receptive as I could have been. I tried my best not to let on. 
Sometimes, when my mind is distracted by important functions like sulking or being hungry, it takes me a little longer than usual to adjust my settings when different social situations suddenly arise. In the case of these two exuberant young ladies, full to the brim with joy, the level of cheer I was faced with required a full system restart. The trick is to not stand still, staring like a stunned mullet while your brain searches for viable options. 

A mullet, stunned.

Anyway, it wasn't long before we were imitating each other's accents, which is to say, they were trying to imitate mine and I was laughing at their attempts. As the bus made its way through the streets of Vegas, the driver filled us in on a couple of pieces of trivia and told a few jokes. By the time we arrived, I was back in good spirits. 
The Rat Pack show was great. I really enjoyed it - the jokes were old and dated, just like the songs and the rest of the audience - and there was a really good vibe among the cast. They looked like a bunch of guys who really enjoyed what they did for a living.  
Maybe about midway through the show, the performers started to go for a bit of audience participation. Dean asked if there was anyone in the audience who was celebrating a birthday, anniversary or anything like that. As she's elbowing me ('shutupshutupshutup!'), I gesture wildly in the direction of my mother. 'Margaret!'
'Oh, Margaret!' says Dean, 'Happy birthday!'
Then Joey came out and said there was a message at the front desk for a Mr Richard Hertz -- "Anyone here who's Dick Hertz?" Audience laughs.
'You can blame Margaret for that!' finishes Dean. 
Later in the show, Sammy complains to Dean after a dance number, 'I'm dyin' here, gimme that,' aiming to pull out a hanky from Dean's suit pocket, which turns out instead to be a pair of lacy red knickers.
'Oh, these? These are Margaret's.'  
So it was a lot of fun - brilliant work from some very good performers. The only unfortunate thing for the cast was that the audience was not very receptive, or at least if they were, they weren't very vocal in expressing it. Most of them were army vets on a yearly holiday. I know this because we got to talking before the show. Included in the group were a man, his wife and cousin, all the way from Louisiana. The man, whose name I have sadly forgotten, was very friendly and was so wisened that he looked like a peanut. They introduced us to the other members of their group, who were mostly all from the Vietnam War, although some were from the Korean War. They all, without exception, spoke fondly of their Australian R&R time in Kings Cross. I asked what the best bit was, and one man replied, "Round-eyed women!" which will teach me to ask a silly question. There was even one guy who was a WWII vet. He laughed most at the affectionate, tongue-in-cheek references to Sammy's homosexuality, which made me smile. 

"What a great pianist!" 
"The guy playin' the piano's not bad, either!" 

There were some other silly ones -
"Hey, man, take a look at these great dancing pants!" 
"Dancing pants?" 
"Yeah, dancing pants!" 
"Not much!" 

"So a bunch of Italians, (says Joey), die and end up at the the Pearly Gates. 'Hey, can we come in, or what?' St Peter looks 'em up and down and says he'll go check with the boss. Peter goes to God and says, 'Boss, there's these gangsters out front wantin' to come in. What do I do?' God says, 'Let them in, of course.' So Pete, he goes back over there and he says, 'They're gone!' God says, 'What, the gangsters?''No, the Gates!'" 
Following the show, we went off to the Rio Casino's rooftop bar, Voodoo. My brother had rung us up from Australia specifically to tell us to do this because it has one of the best views of Las Vegas, and he was not at all wrong. The building we were in was huge and standing out on the top, looking down, it's as though you're seeing glittering sequins set against black cloth but in the distance, beyond all the shiny chaos, there's nothing but the darkness of the outside world.  With the full moon suspended above, it was an incredible thing to behold.
But we had to leave. 
The next day would begin at 5am at the latest and by this time it was past 10pm. We shuttled back to the hotel adjacent to ours, got temporarily diverted (lost) and arrived back at the suite exhausted and complaining of stiff joints. My parents might be described by some as old, but what was my excuse? As they went to bed, I ducked off back through the hotel and casino to the mall. It was Mum's birthday and I'd not got her a present yet. 
It was well past midnight now and the mall was bustling. I passed the ludicrous candy store, the bars and restaurants, assorted knick-knackery, art for sale and designer luggage; withstood the disorienting fake blue summertime noonday sky, clean-shaven singing gondoliers and too-clean-for-Venice canals; only pausing in my mission here and there to take photos of the whole spectacle. Eventually, I found what I was looking for. Rose pink Murano glass. Happy birthday, Mum! 
I made it back to the room, prezzie and other assorted goodies in tow, with only a few hours to go before our 5am wake up call. 
And that's what happened yesterday. Now, for today....

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