My father turned 50 the other day – MLKs true birthday, not the observed day – and we went to Vegas to surprise him for dinner. We thought about a big surprise party, but that never really got planned. I was into it after going to my uncle’s wake, and thinking, these comments would be much better shared while the person is alive, but life got in the way of planning it. Turns out, my dad didn’t want any party and just wanted a quiet dinner in Las Vegas. So us kids invited ourselves to their dinner.
Got to the Wynn Encore a bit early, so we hit the bar to play some video poker and get a free drink. Order Johnnie Walker Black and am told that they don’t comp drinks here at the Wynn – I guess cause they’re so high class. So okay – 14.50 down the drain. But won 3 dollars in video poker and the little lady won 50 cents. So I tipped 3.50 on the drink. Not the bartender’s fault that they don’t comp drinks there at the Wynn, eh?
Plan was to get to dinner early, get seated so that we’re there when the old man arrives. We do. My brother and sister are feeling good, having loosened up a bit at the Myst bar an hour earlier. Chit chat and then I can see my dad and Sarah arrive and hit the hostess stand. Cammy had requested that they get seated at a table for two, then get told that they were disturbing the nearby patrons and ask that they get moved to join us at the table, but the hostess said she wouldn’t be rude to my father on his birthday like that.
So instead, she told Sarah that there was some trouble with her reservation. I didn’t know that was the plan. Ad lib maybe. So I watch the two of them at the hostess station, and Sarah gets a stern look on her face and my dad just steps back and away and goes to wait by the stairs. We have menu’s held up and are hiding behind them, but considering their facial expressions, we didn’t really need them. Things then got resolved and they headed on over.
If there was any doubt that this would be a surprise to my father, it was erased watching him walk over. He’s staring at the ground, studying the tiling that they have done on the floor, wondering if he could paint a similar mosaic on the wall in his backyard (he explained that to me afterwards). When he saw the table that he was being seated at was already full, he was a little concerned, till he recognized his children and favorite daughter in law.
His first words to me? “Where’s the kid?”
Yeah – I love you too.
Botero’s was the restaurant. Their steak house. I had the rib eye, with the pepper rub. Catherine had a New York with some sauce rub on it (that I finished) and Sarah had a plain New York, that I also finished. My steak was my favorite. The creamed spinach and broccoli and the mashed potatoes were solid sides. I stayed away from the eggplant and Catherine said the tuna tartare was fantastic.
But what stood out the most were the tater tots. No, not because they’re loaded, like we get in Chicago (with bacon and cheese). But because they were 11 bucks for 6 or 7 tater tots…normal sized tater tots. Maybe they were slightly less greasy than your typical Ore-ida ones, but I still didn’t feel comfortable with the markup. Outrageous. But we ordered another round – partially just out of disbelief – that our next order would be normal sized as they realized their mistake in the kitchen earlier. Nope. Same size. They’re in that fancy little metal cup. Emphasis on little.
For dessert – I think Sal would have loved it – they had a lollipop option. But since he wasn’t there, we got the cupcakes (5 of them) and the donuts (4 of them) and the something else that came on a painter’s palette, which is a nice touch since the place is named after a painter who’s populated some of the walls in my dad’s house. The ice cream was really good, but nothing that special desert wise. Just another 4 donuts down the pipes. Eh – 3, I think someone had one.
There were rounds of tequila and not that we need help being loud and obnoxious, but it never hurts to have an excuse. Conversation was fun to just listen in to: found out my dad knows the new Yahoo! CEO, was reminded that him and Sarah have been hanging out for 20 years now, loves lost (that happened to be roommates of siblings), rehashed my father’s “go to” racial slur on asians – “Oh no, rice again!” and other family stories came up, that were also enjoyed and denied, depending on who you were and your role in the stories. It was a nice dinner and I’m glad we took the time out to have it. Vegas as a location didn’t hurt.
Sign that the economy has an effect – the Wynn had $5 craps tables @ 10pm on a Thursday night. Still didn’t help me win any. Didn’t have a winning session at all this trip actually – except maybe blackjack. Ah – the blackjack table – that’s an interesting story…
A while back, I commented to Catherine about how my “go to” joke at work, to disarm and create awkward situations, is to comment about “how the internet makes my penis larger”. I like it cause it’s not clear if it’s cause it’s porn or because I’m buying various drugs or if I am just that hardcore a nerd. Well, maybe it’s clear, but not always in the context of what people are talking about. If someone’s showing me how to do something in Outlook and they get on my case for never exploring a particular menu item, I just respond with “I was afraid to click on that, cause I thought it’d make my penis larger.”
Then I just enjoy the awkwardness.
So, I happened to be wearing a McAfee shirt on the day after the birthday and we were playing blackjack and the dealer pauses during a shuffle to say “Hey, you work at McAfee, I have a question.” And I immediately point to my brother, who was the on that gave me the shirt and worked at McAfee and that really, really, really enjoys handling these questions. She was asking about updates and yearly subscriptions and blah blah blah. I start talking to the old dude at the other side of the table, talking about how this is all part of Marco’s game and soon, he’ll be inviting himself over for a little “in-home support” nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more…
Then the tech support session ends, without Marco offering to comp her a free lifetime subscription (he said he couldn’t, but she didn’t know that…) and she comments about how crazy all these computer and internet things are. Now, let’s take a moment to describe our dealer, Diane. She’s from Laos. I feel she’s got a bit of Pamela Anderson vibe going on, with a little bit of the underbite and the cute little nose and the squeaky voice. Catherine wasn’t so sure of it. But I’m willing to let my imagination go wild with the idea of every country having a Pamela Anderson representative and they all somehow end up in Vegas somehow. So Diane, in her squeaky voice, is complaining about how complicated the internet is and its associated security and isn’t offered a lifetime McAfee subscription…so what do I say?
“All you have to do is stop clicking on the links to make your penis bigger…”
The crowd takes a moment to let that comment sink in. Does she really have a penis? Does it need to be any bigger? Or is she just stock piling up for visitors? And who really clicks on those links? No one really. The joke doesn’t make any sense. Except I feel it’s my “go to” line now for some reason and I have to share it with everyone I encounter.
And the table loves it. They riff on it. The old dude makes some comment. His daughter in law has a followup line. Tech support chimes in with agreement that I was giving sound advice! And Diane confesses she can’t help but click on those links. Catherine’s just stunned that people think it is funny.
I like drunk people in Vegas. They make me feel comfortable and loved and funny. I think I’ll go back for my 70th too…