We were on the road the day after school ended. For months we had talked about this. I had been reading about the great shows we could see, while my husband was calculating the expense. By the time the day arrived, he had turned in months of soda cans and bottles for recycling, coming home with $100. Vegas, baby.
Excalibur Hotel was brand new, and we were in awe, like the true tourists we were. I went to the nickel slots; soon lights were flashing and ringing. I made $40. My husband took to the quarter slots, and broke even.
Exhausted after a four hour drive and hitting jackpots, we went up to the room to change and go see a show. I had three great ones circled with the ticket cost. It was going to take all my nickel winnings, and cut into the recycling money, but hey…Vegas! I showed the paper to my beloved, hoping to make a great choice.
I searched his face, and realized that he wasn’t interested in seeing a live show. He turned the paper to another page where “Terminator” was showing in a movie theater off the Strip.
We came to Vegas, and he wanted to see “Terminator”.
I caved and went on the drive off the bright flashy streets to some dimly lit, grungy theater. It was easy to find. It was between cruddy bars, with a pawn store across the street, and liquor store next to that. The streets were lined with big motorcycles and prostitutes. We, a modest grade school teacher and geeky high school algebra teacher, were like two fireflies in a sky filled with bug-eating bats.
The show started in a theater filled with bikers and biker chicks, pimps and prostitutes, drug dealers and users, and two school teachers. As the plot developed, the theater roared its approval with colorful metaphors and heartfelt profanity. Swearing wasn’t unexpected, but never with such sincerity and verve. As the movie came to a rip roaring conclusion, the guttural howls nearly ripped the grime off the floor.
We walked out toward our car very aware of our vulnerability. A few steps ahead were a pimp with two of his girls. Oh, it was very clear who and what, because the car was a white decked out Cadillac, and he was wearing a white suit, with white fur cape, and gold jewelry on every digit. The girls were also dressed for their profession. We kept close to them, figuring no one would mug two stupid school teachers within close proximity of the Cadillac. The pimp wouldn’t want blood on his car, right?
We were parked behind him in our little Toyota Tercel. We took off with all the speed it could give us. I didn’t talk to my husband for the entire trip back to the hotel. When we were in our room, we looked at each other, waiting. First there was one giggle, and then a chuckle. Then we burst into relief-filled laughter, amazed that we had done such a thing, and nothing happened to us.
To this day, when we consider Las Vegas and its lights, all we think about is that one night, that one movie, and that white Cadillac. Vegas can never beat any of that.