Let's go back a year ago - so I can make sense - yes I know that is rare - but I will try to make sense of why on earth anyone would go to Vegas to heal. Twice.
As I have mentioned before I had a horrific fall, all puns intended. Clearly this fall is right up there with Rome and the apple that hit Newton. Both crappy but enlightening. My first last fall was essentially the death of my existence as I knew it - Rome - and this one looks like just plain ole death - thus the enlightenment. But Don't ask which one is better or worse - I never have been one for sarcasm. But I have been one for Vegas.
So last fall as I lay fetal in the corner of the dinning room - weeping inconsolably at my fate, I could hear Liza on the lap top - then on the phone - then back on line - muttering about Celine Dion and dolphins. Then I heard the words suite, first class, casino host and Monte Carlo slippers. That got me on my feet.
As did that first class, world class door to door week long spa style soul saving smile making trip. Yes I said spa. Vegas can be hell - but it can also be heaven. It can nearly kill you or it can save you.
What saved me from myself on round two was the people - and a magical creature named Cosmo. This Cosmo was not shaken or stirred, but his playfulness with me shook the shame away and stirred in me a peaceful acceptance that does nothing but continue to grow. Cosmo is one of 8 dolphins that did yoga with me - and just five other people. Not in the tank - ew yoga with dolphin poo? No thanks. - But yoga under a giant glass tank with an instructor - Willow- who over the curse/course/coarse of 2 hours took each one of us out of our body then gently put us back in right side up and out. Yes please.
But here is where these chance happenings- and the whole trip gets odd - even by my standards. Of the five other people who showed up for yoga three of them had been beside for lunch us the day before. One of them was no better off than I was and her gals pals were trying to cheer her up. We had a great time chatting with them about all the things to do in Vegas, the great food and wine but none of them mentioned going to yoga. So you can imagine the look on our faces when we met the next morning at 7 am in yet another hotel to share in again in a healing experience.
In fact most of the people we crossed paths with that week all had a sad story, and warm smiles and faces that seemed all to familiar. So familiar. Some in that magical feline kind of way. So if you jump back some 60 days to the last trip to vegas, those cats were all still there. Of the millions and millions of people the thousands of folks who work in Vegas see - somehow - a handful remembered me - us by name. But "You look different.." they said.
"Indeed.." I said." I have cancer. But I am so glad I ran into to you. Oddly I was looking for you. I just wanted to say hello and thank you for making my last stay here so great!"
Suddenly I am hugging. Servers, casino floor staff. Peggy, Lily, Tara, People are wrapping their arms around me and filling me full of love, wine and food - Fernando, Anne, The gals from Brand Steak House, Ashley - who stuck a flower up my nose, Whitney the piano player, Allison from Banana Republic, all posed for pictures with me - And all in one day. Thus I am wearing the same yellow shirt in each picture. If the last stay was great this one was spectacular.
However, the most lingering picture is the one that shows up on my phone each day. Each day Lily from the Monte Carlo sends me a message of hope. And each day I am grateful and thankful for that love.
And each day I am also grateful and thankful that my friend Liana is not correcting my grammar. Or my syntax. Cause that sucks too.
Rule number one - as I have mentioned. Listen to Liza.
1st Vegas visit highlights. As I can share.
Wear sun block. Drink lots of water. Put chap stick up your nose. Do not wear soft rubber soles on the escalator. Walk outside and you will melt. So will your shoes.
But try telling a Dear what to do - mind you some times telling a Dear anything can be pointless....
So I got sun burnt. My shoes melted on the pavement on the death walk to Circus Circus. ... Are you sure you can make it ... she says. - no but I have to try ....gasp.stagger .... Feebleness ...
So we make it - after I buy a dozen bottles of water and dump it down my neck. I was steaming like a bar harbour muscle. Finally Liza opens the door to the casino.
WHOOOSSEE - ice cold air. My hair freezes.
A gal in front of us said. " OMG it be so cold in here I am gonna get " pee no monoa ! "
Then a wall of smoke - 1990 bar style glues itself to my shoulders. Mmm. This is going to be exactly a Circus.
Circus. Circus. What an inventive name. Like calling a cat cat. Now before I go on-
In my defence - I have never gambled.
Ok. We all gamble. Everyday we take risks. By crossing the street. Trying to park downtown. Flying on planes where the co- pilot and the flight attendant are the same person. We gamble in love and life. But with money? My very own money
I am a teacher. The difference as Liza says between a teacher and a canoe - a canoe tips. So does a pinball machine.
Which circus circus has. And carnival games and cotton candy and more carnival games - it is like old school Lake Ontario park. - on crack not just cracker jacks. So yes it was the most fun ever. And yes I cheated little children and won stuffed things. And yes there is a circus.
Right in the middle. Starring Mr burns and the Romanian cast of Mel's dinner. And perhaps one or two people from Barney Miller. And it is being watched by 200 people who think Miller time is anytime or all the time. In Vegas it is always beer thirty. Or forty or fifty -
"Liza did you just put 50 dollars in that machine? Are you insane? That was -"
" Sit. Play. Do not move from this spot I will be right back. "
Play what? Play with what ? I just looked at the buttons and stared blankly at her.
" OMG. Here. Play max bet. Hit this. Wait. Put your card in. Not there. Here. Like this. "
Noise. So much noise. Lights. Sounds. Dings bings and flashing things. All for 4 bucks. Ohh. 54 dollars. Now I get it.
So off Liza goes. I sit and spin. Which I also did a lot as a kid which may explain a few of my quirks. But I keep getting the lights and flashy things. People come and go beside me. I see that they are only playing minimum bets with only a buck or two.
The cocktail gal comes and goes as well. As does about an hour and a half. I am up. I am down. But I still have money left.
Liza comes back. "We should go now." She says calmly. Pointing to her pocket and smiling.
" Go where? " I am still playing. I ignore her forgetting rule number one and push the button - " Just one more time.
Now remember - this is Ethyl and Myrtles first trip. They were very excited to be in Vegas. And even more excited when we won. I was born to be on the Price is Right. I nearly killed the guy beside me when I jumped up and spun round. Myrtle took out my eye a beer and all of Liza's patience. I was singing along to the sounds and clapping like a Broadway version of the chicken dance. Jackpot!
Liza daringly thrust her hand thru my chest propellers and pushed a button. All the noises stopped. But the numbers didn't. They kept going and going. As did I
"Shut up. Sit down. Then it came. My name with 3 capital L's. You are going to get us killed. - or worse. She grabbed the ticket and the card. "Come with me now."
Then I clued in. She had hundreds and hundreds of bills in her pocket and I had just announced to the universe that we were ready and available for mugging.
"The ticket aren't we going to cash it out?" I quietly asked as she wrapped her arm around my face and dragged me the only bar in the place where you had to pay for drinks. It was of course empty. Except for the bar tender and a huge security guard.
" The genius here just lost her shirt so she will have a grey goose - make that two. "
"27.50". He says. Liza puts down a fifty and says with a diamond eye smile -
I am too ashamed to say anything. So I just drink. And then look back over my shoulder to the casino floor. There were at least a dozen guys pacing back and forth staring at us. Just waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting as was I - for another idiot to win so they would go away.
Liza was loving it. I was beyond scared.
"Ok - it's 5 o'clock - get ready to make a scene so I can get the ticket cashed. Do not leave this bar until you see me over there by that door. Do not run." She gave me a wad of bills and that grin. Game on.
Make a scene she said. Right? Ok. How.
Flashback to Flashdance. Or Footloose. Or Coyote really really Ugly. Either way it involved buckets - ice- tequila- juggling-shots - the free pouring kind with the bar tender and I on the bar - coasters stuck on noses and a huge crowd - aha!! Exit!
Liza was at the back door. I stuffed the bills in his shirt pocket and slid my way out of the insanity. I smelled like the floor of a Kentucky prom. But I was alive. More than I had been in years. And as Liza slipped my rubber body into the cab all I could say over and over again - was
" Liza - Liza - I see sparkly things. Lots and lotsa of sparkly things."
And all Liza said. " Not bad for your first day. - next time follow rule number one."
So for the next year Liza and i cross paths - from never having thee seen the girl before to seeing her everywhere i am. Once a month, then twice, then once a week - then it just got stupid. i felt like a stalker - but at this point in my life i was highly allergic to women. Something about my DNA and my jean pool - which was limited as i was losing weight again - kept me far from them. except this one. Those darn eyes. it got creepy. No matter how hard i tried to not look - not wonder - not to scream - Please just take me to Vegas!!! I want diamonds in my eyes!!! No matter how i tried to sit with my back to her on my - her - our favourite patio i just couldn't control my face. So i gave in.
One fine summer night - under the lights lanterns and umbrellas i finally said it out loud. Too loud.
" Hey Von Tottenham! " I sadly stage whispered to my lovely friend and server of most excellent food and wine - "Ya see that girl over there (pathetic pointy point) she's gonna be my girlfriend." This came out with all the grace of Cam eating pancreas with Sloan and Ferris.
" Umm" VonT replied, with that teenage tone of truth dare double dare promise to repeat - "Oh Really? - cause i am pretty sure she has already has one." oh slam. swig. swallow. slam back.
"Ya well - I am pretty sure that i don't care - Oh - and big ps - she is so taking me to Vegas."
She looked at me like i had just bitten off half the worm in the apple. The drunk poison worm. The one in the bottom of the tequila bottle. And it was hanging out of my smug face squirming for its life. Clearly there was nothing to say. There is awkward - and then there are these moments. moments that change your life forever. moments when what comes out of your face changes the face of your life. There is no explaining it.
Kinda like there is no explaining Vegas. Or Cancer. Each person's experience is different. Both are a gamble. Some win some lose - but the only way to find out who wins - is to play!!
Myrtle here - all alone off to the left way left like left field - I think I just hijacked an I phone - I am kinda old school - eyes are on potatoes either side of yer nose - or fore head if you are from a goldfish bowl or from the Deep South side of this here family....
And phones should be in a booth or on a wall - in the middle of the room. With one long cord. Just long enough for everyone to hear but no one to get what you are saying - dial - like the soap - like for dollars. Like when ya show a kid they look at it and ask I see the letters but how so you text?
Like how I see the place where Erhyl was and the train tracks she left on - but no note. No letter to say see ya - or goodbye. How am I to know? Those on the right side just seem to know and do as they please.... Well it does not please me.
It has been been almost three weeks since she left. At first I was a bit cold. Always got smothered under her little self when Kelly rolled over - but heck now I am all smushed up in this corset thing - which I can assure you one size fits no one - all alone - and where on earth is hot water?
The only sound of water I hear is some weird gurgling from where Erhyl was and the odd drop of a tear from the pointy nosed beaver faced gal I hang out on.
And whew. Am I hanging. Out on a limb. As the limb on the right side does not move. It is all swollen and stiff and creaks like dry wood on a Nova Scotia board walk. But one without crabs.
So I have been watching. And listening and trying to figure - where our figure went. - and wondering why all these people were running in circles all wearing pink for some cure- cure for what? Why raise money for this cancer thing - it seems to be doing just fine on its own!
So how doI figure out what the heck is going on?
Cause I'll tell ya. Kelly - and that nice gal - and all these people who keep poking - proding - pricking - panicking - photographing and pattering on and on - have no idea.
But I heard tonite- . That tomorrow the train tracks and the path they are on will be revealed by those who laid them. Er. That sounds way more fun that it was.
I was kinda there - naked and all - and yes there were drugs - but that is not the kind of laid out a old fashioned gal like me wants.
I want the facts laid out. And the truth. And I want to know if I am on the the same track as Ethyl. I do not want this to be the Whistle Stop Cafe. I like Fried green Tomatoes. I just want them at the Bellagio.
And franlky I want them with a nice hot shower. So if you know anything - more than I will know tomorrow - send a pigeon.
Or an owl. That I get. Here is what I do not get.
Why is Kelly is so sore? And why is that nice gal is so sad? And why does this thing ding and ring all the time? And why there are flowers everywhere? And why I am I all alone - Out in left field.?
And yes Laura. There is no crying in baseball. But there is crying when you are scared.
And when you have no idea how to hang up an I phone. Maybe there is an app for that. And maybe just maybe. Tomorrow there will be an app for cancer.