It’s not every day that you hear a reading from Exodus about Moses leading his people out of Egypt then walk out of church and see the Sphinx and a pyramid. Just another Sunday morning in Las Vegas. And that’s about the mildest juxtaposition of sacred and profane you will find on the Strip.
I don’t have to spell out the perils awaiting one’s soul in Sin City, it’s a veritable cornucopia of disordered affections (hereafter known as DA), but I’m not going to focus on that. I’m choosing to be positive and think of the plus side to a visit to Las Vegas. Obviously, if you struggle with DA, 3 foot frozen margaritas at noon and billboard trucks advertising “girls who really want to meet you” will be a problem. (And if you believe those girls really want to meet you, your affections must really be out of order.) But for those with a decent moral compass, a couple of days in Sin City doesn’t have to be sinful–a little fun in the sun with those you love or even those you work with can be a relationship boon.
Sunday afternoon I was on an outdoor stool at the Shake Shack, nursing a Shackmeister Ale and enjoying my burger, watching people go by. (Vegas is to people-watching what Florence is to art.) Every few minutes another white-veiled bride-to-be came by –every color, every size, almost every age, trailed by any number of girlfriends in identical t-shirts. (Best shirt on a bride? “This is such a stone cold pack of weirdos. I’m so proud.” Where was that when you were in my pack of weirdos?) At first I kind of rolled my eyes but then, no. I chose to eschew the cynical (no judgement on the above-mentioned 3 foot margaritas as bridal accoutrements, or on the appropriateness of the white veils) and I saw giddy girls, bonding with friends and celebrating marriage. A good thing.
Hubby was in town for a convention, one of many going on this week and every week. Las Vegas history is certainly a celebration of the American rags to riches ideal, played out on the frontier–literally, in the inhospitable desert, and figuratively, on the edges of polite society. Today, Las Vegas still celebrates commerce, catering to millions of convention goers. In our hotel lobby I saw plenty of lanyard-wearing guys, warmly greeting each other, enjoying a respite from the office. Might some might take the freedom too far? Maybe. But the relaxed environment to network and grow businesses? I call that a good thing.
Finally, I couldn’t help notice all the middle age couples in town, my demographic. Yes, some might be there for some kinky networking of their own, but again, I’m choosing a cynicism-free zone. I see Joe and Mary Beth Anycouple, from Anysuburb, USA finally free from the yoke of diaper changes, child-wrangling, seething teen hostility and generally having to be good role models for at least the past 18 years. It’s their time to reconnect with each other, to uncover the carefree pair they used to be. (Ugh, that sounds like that ad with the two bathtubs in it. I never got that one. How is it classy to have two bathtubs in the yard for sunset dips? That has HOA citation written all over it.) So they stroll The Strip, drink a little too much and feel a little naughty. That’s a good thing.
So yes, I’ll give you the decadence, the debauchery, the sad beings who live marginal lives on the street–Las Vegas is a sad place in a lot of ways. I mean, even this guy isn’t immune.
But I’m going to live in my happy zone now while I process some of the more difficult parts of the trip. People making connections, strengthening relationships, and a vibrant Catholic community just steps off The Strip. Yep, that’s a good thing.