As I type this, my 80 year old dad, my 78 year old mother and my 84 year old aunt are enjoying their annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas where they will gamble, see a show, complain about the girth of the sandwiches at Carnegie Deli, refuse to see the Grand Canyon because it might be chilly, play the slot machines until they faint and drive my twin brother insane spend time with my twin brother.
And right about now, my twin brother is swabbing the inside of his mouth and sending off DNA samples to various labs around the greater Las Vegas area, to be followed by drinking copious amounts of alcohol.
Because a trip to Vegas for our elderly gene pool is never without drama or incident or dramatic incidents, whichever the case may be.
Like last year, when they arrived at their hotel, only to discover that my father had misplaced the weird, brown leather satchel thing which (1) resembles a strapless man purse on steroids; (2) doesn’t lock; (3) hasn’t been manufactured since the Truman administration; (4) has been used by my father as a briefcase since I was an embryo; and (5) contained my parents’ identification and important papers, together with everything they needed to lose their collective shirt in Vegas, specifically $900 in cash.
And thankfully, because it must have been Be Nice to Scatterbrained Geriatrics that particular day in Heaven, it also contained my mother’s address book.
It was this address book that a Southwest employee rifled through to find a lone entry for a Las Vegas resident with the same last name as the owners of the weird, brown leather satchel thing. She called this resident who was busy sleeping off the hangover that comes with an eight hour bartending shift and three hour after-hour party and told him that she had discovered our father’s weird, brown leather satchel thing on a seat at the Las Vegas McCarren International Airport, Concourse A, Gate A15 and what would he like her to do with it?
And so my brother dragged his hungover self out of bed and went to retrieve the weird, brown leather satchel thing which, thanks to the honest and trustworthy Southwest employee, still contained $900. Then he set off to our parents’ hotel as quickly as possible, knowing full well that Dad was in immediate peril if Mom became aware that the weird, brown leather satchel thing was missing. His only thought was to arrive before our father succumbed to either a stress-induced heart attack or the verbal disembowelment at the hands of our mother’s royally pissed off larynx. While stuck in traffic, he pinned his hopes on the heart attack as it would be much quicker and far less painless.
If our parents had had a cellphone at the time, this entire scenario would have been over within an hour. But they didn’t have a cellphone because our father didn’t believe in them. Our father is stubborn with a capital GODDAMMIT, WERE YOU A MULE IN YOUR PRIOR LIFE? This is the same man who obstinately insisted that my brother mail him their Bette Midler tickets, the tickets my brother had purchased two months ago and had been holding onto, in anticipation of their visit, in a desk in a condo located less than one mile from Caesars Palace where Bette was performing. Our parents, on the other hand, live approximately 3,000 miles away from Caesars Palace.
This all comes into play later, just in case you’re wondering why in the world I’m even bringing it up.
Getting back to the weird, brown leather satchel thing … with no cell phone available, my brother’s only option was to leave them a message at their hotel, telling them not to worry and that he would arrive shortly with the weird brown leather satchel thing and thus, save our father’s life and then maybe, if they behaved, take them all out to dinner.
This would be the message that our mom, dad and aunt never received because while they noticed the big, red light on the telephone in their hotel room, it never occurred to them to question why it was flashing … that a big, red, flashing light on a hotel phone sometimes means PICK ME THE HELL UP SO I CAN TELL YOU THAT YOUR SON’S HEAD IS ABOUT TO EXPLODE. So instead of waiting patiently for my brother to arrive, they left the hotel to retrace their steps in hopes of finding the weird, brown leather satchel thing so that they could take that $900 and shove it into a variety of slot machines and lose it properly.
But retracing your steps is a lot harder than it sounds when you have to do it in really old bodies comprised of titanium, pig valves, high cholesterol, arthritis and sciatica. And gout, if it’s Tuesday. And raining.
So when my brother arrived at the hotel and learned that our aging relatives had not, in fact, retrieved his message and instead, had been last seen exiting onto the street while loudly debating issues of personal responsibility and assessing blame, he did what any sleep deprived, hungover, frustrated son of technologically challenged, short term memory lapsed octogenarians would do.
He sat in the hotel bar and called his twin sister and yelled TELL ME WE’RE ADOPTED.
And I hollered back BEEN THERE, DONE THAT.
I have gotten that same phone call from my brother, in some form or another, almost every year they’ve visited him in Vegas.
I got one the other day, as a matter of fact. I knew immediately it was my brother because the ring had that insistent OH MY GOD, PICK UP THE &*%! PHONE, YOU ARE NOT GOING TO BELIEVE THIS tone about it.
Remember the Bette Midler tickets? My father didn’t. Oh, he remembered to pack them and bring them along. He just couldn’t remember where he put them in the hotel room. And so while Dad was busy mentally retracing all of his steps, Mom was busy wigging out and sharpening her tongue in preparation of verbally eviscerating Dad, and Aunt VeVe was busy shouting to anyone who would listen to check the safe again because they may have missed something the ten times prior.
Fortunately, my brother hightailed it out of there before he did something foolish like scream I TOLD YOU SO and thereby saved not only his life and collective limb but also all of his internal organs that would have been placed at immediate risk of being yanked out of his body by Mom and flung out the window, into the nearest pool.
And thus the mid-afternoon call he made to me the other day, right before he presumably mailed out eighteen more DNA samples.
They found the tickets. I don’t even care where. I’m just glad they found them, because now I only have to hear the story of how they almost missed Bette Midler instead of the one where they actually missed Bette Midler and seeing as how the former would not involve re-enactments of my father’s grisly death, it was bound to be at least twenty minutes shorter.
Shorter is better, considering I will hear this story at least seventeen times, over the course of several years. And each time Mom tells it and Dad denies it, there will be frenetic hand gestures, dramatic pauses and freakishly high eyebrow arches that you can hear from 800 miles away, over the phone.
Sometimes what happens in Vegas doesn’t actually stay in Vegas.