Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Endless Night

Because my husband, Mark, and his coworkers sold enormous quantities of a product line, the wholesaler paid for all salespeople and their significant others to spend two nights in Las Vegas, at the new MGM Grand Hotel - plus airfare, ground transportation and meal costs. All we needed were suitcases and gambling money.

We arrived at the Grand in stifling heat, its vibrant blue glass forming angular outer walls. Graceful palms rustled and swayed in a slight breeze. We entered the hotel through the belly of a multi-story carved lion with enormous turquoise eyes.

Lights blinked at every turn. Insistent ‘ding-ding-dings’ rang as delighted gamblers eagerly cupped their hands below slot machines that regurgitated hundreds of tokens. Cheers rose and fell when blackjack players showed their lucky hands and craps shooters rolled winning dice. Cigarette smoke and clinking ice permeated every foot of the casino. And female gamblers still wore cocktail dresses from the previous night at 6 a.m.

With only two hours remaining in our whirlwind trip, Mark and I decided to try a slot machine renowned for high payouts. Our last few tokens rattled into the heart of the machine, he slowly pulled down on the golden handle, and we held our breaths. The first round of pictures stopped at a pair of cherries attached by their stems. Seconds later, we had another pair. Finally, the third cycle ended with a third pair of cherries.

As the dinging began I cupped my hands below the machine and Mark scrambled for a token bucket. We’d won back every bit of our cash, just in time for our airport departure.

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