Act your wageWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
Time in Las Vegas is elastic, like Silly Putty or a long rubber band or the City of Toledo’s definition of “exigent circumstances.” As rapper LL Cool J says, “Put your hand on a hot stove, and a minute can feel like an hour. Put your hand on a hot woman, and an hour can feel like a minute.” That is a perfect summation of Vegas Time.
Toledo Time is inflexible, a rolling river with no mercy. As rapper Too Short says, “Life is … too short.” That is a perfect summation of Toledo Time.
A few months ago, I asked my wife what she wanted for her birthday, and she flippantly responded, “Take me to Las Vegas,” where neither of us had ever been. She tossed out this playful challenge, knowing full well I would be genetically incapable of; 1. Arranging the hotel and flight details; 2. Finding a place to leave our nearly 2- and 4-year-old boys for three days; 3. Leaving Toledo for three days without being attached to my work BlackBerry in ways normally left to descriptions in Penthouse Forum; and 4. Keeping the plan within our financial means.
I am not totally hapless; I could pull off maybe one or two of these missions, but all four of them? Not likely. There would certainly be no secrecy in the name of surprise; all of our financial accounts are shared, so there is no way to commit funds without each other knowing.
So, she was very surprised when I came home one day and announced I had, just an hour before, booked a room at the Las Vegas MGM Grand, arranged a flight and found weekend shelter for our sons. Plus, the entire deal would fall within our budget and I would leave my BlackBerry behind.
She said it all seemed too good to be true, but she was impressed; I felt all grown up and we started to count the days until our trip.
I imagine it was like Thomas Andrews must have felt as he looked over his design plans for the RMS Titanic: “Boy, look how neatly all this stuff fits together! I’m great!”
Oh, but the icebergs …
Less than 10 days before our trip, I realized, 1. I had booked our flights while not only confusing a.m. and p.m. times, but confusing Detroit Metro (DTW) and our layover in Dallas (DFW), which resulted in our entire time in Las Vegas being only 19 hours instead of 3 days; 2. Our child care plans collapsed; three. Trying to rectify these two problems would destroy our budget before we stepped onto the plane; and 4. Hives exploded on my hands when I thought about leaving my BlackBerry 1,761 miles behind.
I cleaned up the flight mess by explaining my blunder to travel writer Roger Holliday, who sent me to Bowling Green travel agent Janet McClary of Millstream Travel. Not only did McClary rescue the flight schedule, she brought the solution in at $2,000 less than the airline quoted me when I tried to fix the issues directly.
The child care issue was a tougher fix. Although my wife’s parents are wonderful folks who often watch our boys for a workday at a time, leaving them with our toddlers for three days seemed like a huge imposition on a retired couple that has earned some golden years of peace and quiet. They put their game faces on and volunteered, but we luckily made arrangements with the family that watches the boys during their two weekly day care days.
The budget would be tested, but not broken, everything was lined up and I began to regain some confidence in my ability to plan a major excursion.
Our last real trip as man and wife was four years ago, when my wife planned a Niagara Falls weekend three months before Evan was born. Niagara is one of my favorite places; the Falls are hypnotic from every conceivable viewpoint and I find great peace listening to the unceasing thunder of 150,000 gallons of water per second pounding on the rocks below.
That trip was romantic and filled with the anticipation of parenthood and impending, radical, unquantifiable change.
Our trips since then, to see family in Miami, are fun and frantic, but more about the kids (as they should be) than about us.
This Las Vegas trip was a thrilling concept because it represented romance and the anticipation of escaping parenthood, just for a few days, although we would soon discover it would not be that emotionally simple. We always promised each other we would strive to maintain our adult relationship and individual identities, but the idea of being Michael and Shannon rather than Mommy and Daddy for a few days felt like a much greater taboo than anything Sin City had to offer.
But of course, that was before we encountered passed-out brides, $12 bottles of beer, baseball card call girls, Freddie Mercury bicycle bikini races, Fatburger, 4-story high cowboy Elvises and knuckle tattoos spelling “LOVE” and “HATE.”
To be continued …
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.