First and foremost, thank you to all who have read my past blogs and my book, “Homey’s Adventures”.
At the end of May. I am planning to take my brother to Las Vegas for his birthday. His wife died last February and I thought this may be a good birthday present for him. He likes to play Texas Hold’em poker.
The last time I was in Las Vegas was last fall when I went to a writer’s convention to pitch my book to Hollywood producers. I thought I would share with you my experience last fall which will be included in my up-and-coming book, “Homey’s Adventures Too”:
On the plane to Las Vegas, I finished reading a book by Bob Goff entitled “Everybody Always”. Bob shares Jim’s goal of sharing the love of Christ with anyone we come across. So, I found this book inspiring. I am not sure if Bob would approve of the Homey side of me, but he has a Homey too. He may have more control over his than I do mine. Given the people Bob Goff embraces, I am almost sure he would embrace me.
In his book, Bob talks about a blind long-distance track jumper who jumps using the sound of a friend’s voice at the end the track. He mentions one event where the blind man missed the sand box at the end of the track completely and lands on the concrete instead. The blind man then gets up and hobbles back to the start for his third and final long-distance jump. On the third jump, the blind man breaks the world record. Bob uses this metaphor to illustrate how Christ leads us blindly through life listening to the holy spirit at the end of our long jump track of life. Sometimes we end up on the concrete and sometimes we break the world record. On my way to MoviePitch, I was praying for breaking the world record and not ending up half broken on the concrete.
I checked the Covid 19 case count in Las Vegas and it was about the same as St Louis. So, I really was not worried about getting Covid 19 just because I went to Las Vegas. Even if it was not about the same, I believe if God wants me, I will go when it is my time. As far as I can tell, the so-called scientists did not know how to prevent the disease any more than I did, so I put my trust in the holy spirit.
When I go to Las Vegas, I like to stay at the Mirage for two reasons. The Mirage liked me because they gave me a free room and the Mirage is in the center of the Las Vegas strip. The MoviePitch was going to be held at Caesar’s Palace which is next to the Mirage. The thing I like to do most when I go to Las Vegas is walk around and mingle with all the people. The Mirage is one of the best locations to do that.
I flew into Las Vegas a day early because I needed to get there before the MoviePitch reception which starts at 6 PM. If I tried to do this the day of the reception, I would have missed the reception because I would not get to the hotel until 7 PM.
On the way from the airport to the Mirage, my cabby offered: “The Mirage is a good place to stay.”
I smiled on the inside of my surgical mask: “Yes I agree. I like its center strip location.”
“You have been to Vegas before. Good. When was it the last time you visited?”
“The last time I was here was…. November…no October 2018.”
“Oh? Covid 19 has changed things. You will not see any conventions. Everybody comes for pleasure these days.”
I smiled again: “I am here for a writers convention.”
“Oh? One thing I do recommend is that you make reservation to eat anywhere. All the restaurants require it.”
“Thanks for the advice.”
In general, I like to talk to cab drivers. Some people like to talk to bar tenders for information, but cabbies have a broader perspective about what is going on in town.
So, I had a free night to do what I love to do the most in Las Vegas. I could walk and mingle. Since I had been traveling all day, I decided to get a cab to go to downtown Las Vegas and walk around. The walk around downtown was shorter, and I could still make myself happy by mingling.
Since it was a Thursday night and Covid 19 was still around, I expected downtown to be empty. To my surprise, it was just as busy as it was when I went downtown 2 years ago. The crowd was different. It was younger and about half black. I do not think of myself as a racist. In fact, I remembered a book that I read in college entitled “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison about a black man’s complaint about not being noticed by society. The difference is that Jim and Homey were not being noticed by the younger crowd. I was the invisible man because of my age. It did not bother me because I was there to mingle and observe and not stand out. In general, age discrimination in the USA does bother me, but there is nothing I can do about it. It is also one of the main reasons I seek romantic love outside the USA.
In the middle of downtown, I came across this street performer who was naked from the waist up and her almost flat limp breasts were painted over with body paint. She was older than I was. I noticed that some people did stop to talk to her. She found a way to become visible. I thought I should stop and talk to her. I just could not do it. I would be too obvious by staring at her unattractive breasts. So, I walked on.
In downtown Las Vegas, the gambling is cheaper, and the odds of winning are better. So, I did a little gambling and then got a cab back to my hotel.
The next day, I decided to wait until just before the reception in the evening to clean and dress up. The first thing I needed to do was find something to eat for breakfast. I remember the cabby’s warning about reservations, but I was not going to make reservations for breakfast. So, I decided to do what I liked to do. I headed for the Tropicana on the south end of the Las Vegas strip. A casino in St. Louis owned the Tropicana and I had a player’s card. Maybe, I could find a place to eat breakfast in addition to checking out the south end of the Las Vegas strip along the way.
Most of the casinos on the strip are either owned by Caesar’s or MGM. The oldest casino on the strip is the Flamingo, which is owned by Caesar’s, and it was just two blocks south from the Mirage.
The Flamingo was originally built by a mobster named Bugsy’s Segal. Bugsy was the mob’s assassin in Los Angeles, and he thought of building a casino in a one-horse town called Las Vegas. The Flamingo was not a success in the beginning and Bugsy paid for that by being murdered by the mob in LA a year after the Flamingo was built. Despite being an assassin and mobster, Bugsy was also a visionary. We may owe him credit for the creation of Las Vegas.
I did not stop at the Flamingo because of my love of history. I stopped there because of Margaritaville. Margaritaville is a chain of restaurants started by singer song writer Jimmy Buffet.
I walked in with my mask on, and I asked the receptionist: “Do you serve steak and eggs?”
“Yes, we do.”
“Please sign me up.”
“Okay, it is a 15-minute wait.”
“I’ll wait. My name is Jim Wish.”
I was smiling underneath my mask but all that she could see was the twinkle in my eyes.
While I was waiting, I walked into the adjoining gift shop and looked at all the Jimmy Buffet stuff based on his music. Jimmy wrote a lot of songs about food, and I was hungry. “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise” was not exactly breakfast food. Steak and eggs were my breakfast of champions in Las Vegas.
After I was seated, my waiter came over and smiled under her mask. I could tell because her eyes twinkled.
“My name is Catherine. What can I get you?”
“I need to make up references to remember people’s names. May I call you Catherine the Great?
She chuckled behind her mask: “Why not, I have been called worse.”
“Every time I come into a Margaritaville; I must have a Margarita.”
I was smiling because I was in my happy place, and I did not need to get reservations to have breakfast. She had red hair and was closing in on middle age and a very pleasant manner about her. My guess was she was of English or Irish decent.
“What kind of Margarita do you want?”
“The one and only original.”
“Do you want it with or without triple sec? Some people think the triple sec makes it too bitter.”
I smiled again and she could see me smile because the rules were that you didn’t have to wear a mask seated in a restaurant: “I like the original house version. I have been to Margaritavilles all over the world. I have been to the original one in Key West and the largest one in Grand Turk.”
I could tell she was smiling again by the twinkle in her eyes.
“I already know what I want to eat too. I want steak and eggs. It is a tradition for me in Las Vegas.”
“How would you like your eggs?”
“Sunny side up please.”
She nodded and went to order my newfound treasure. Who would order a margarita for breakfast? I would.
My wonder meal came, and I was happier than a pig in shit. I drank my Margarita and chomp on my steak and eggs. My gracious waiter came over about halfway through my meal.
“Do you need anything else?”
“You know if one margarita is good, then two Margaritas is….”
She finished my sentence for me: “is better.”
I chuckled and smiled as she went to get me what Jimmy Buffet referred to as “that frozen concoction that helps me hang on.”
After I finished my meal, I read a verse of the Margaritaville lyrics on the restaurant wall:
Nibblin’ on sponge cake
Watchin’ the sun bake
All of those tourists covered with oil
Strummin’ my six-string
On my front porch swing
Smell those shrimp they’re beginnin’ to boil
I thought: I wonder if they have sponge cake. I was in a groove with two Margaritas in me.
I signaled Catherine the Great and pointed to the wall: “Do you have sponge cake?”
She smiled: “No but we do have Key Lime pie.”
“Wow that sounds perfect! I know it is breakfast time, but do you think I could have some Key Lime pie now?”
She smiled: “I think it’s in the refrigerator and I can get you some.”
I am thinking: This just keeps getting better!
I ate my Key Lime pie with water because I did not really want to get wasted. I paid for my wondrous meal with my Caesar’s Rewards card. I could not leave a tip using the rewards card, so I walk up to where Catherine was standing, and I handed her a twenty.
I gushed: “I want you to know that service means a lot to the customers of this industry. The last time I was in here no one paid attention to me, and no one was impressed by my Margaritaville travels or knowledge. You made all the difference in the world to me. Thank you very much!”
She looked me in the eyes: “Thank you! That means a lot to me.”
I went back to Margaritaville and had my steak and eggs two more times during my stay in Las Vegas. When I find something, I like to eat, I tend to order it again and again. Looking back on it, I am always pleasantly surprised by the little things that make me happy. Catherine The Great’s service and Margaritaville was one of those things for me.
I know this is a little long for a blog, but I have 3 more installments about my experience in Vegas last fall. So, please come back next week for more.
If you want to learn more about Jim and Homey, then please visit my website https://www.homeysadventures.com. You can read the first two chapters of my book for free. If you like what you read, you can buy my book from my website or on Amazon and many other book retailers. You can search for my book online using the words: “Homey’s Adventures” by Jim Wish.