A non-gambler goes to Las Vegas, covets a Popeye statue.

This morning I went grocery shopping at my usual old-people Co-Op, and they were having one of those big “Warehouse Sales.” There were quite a few of my usual purchases on for great prices, so I stocked up a bit. When I went through the checkout, the girl handed me my receipt, saying in the robotic, automated voices of those who have worked in customer service for a while, “Today you saved $71.13. Have a nice day.”

$71.13! I repeated this, loudly, looking around me. I half expected confetti and balloons to drop from the ceiling, along with music and a loudspeaker announcement. I felt like I just won the Housewife Olympics or something. I repeated it again, $71.13, wow! The elderly man with the carton of ice cream, loaf of bread, and single cucumber standing behind me didn’t seem to care about my Amazing Savings. I wheeled my cart out of the store, immediately texting my husband AND calling my mother, just to have some sort of outside validation. They were both suitably impressed.

I just got back from an extended weekend away in Las Vegas. The last time my husband and I went away together was in 2010. We had such a blast – and the kids had so much fun at Camp Grandma – that I’m optimistic that we will go away again before Mark’s sixteenth birthday. Las Vegas is such a weird and wonderful place, although I frequently wondered why Greenpeace or similar hasn’t targeted it for its extreme environmental footprint. Maybe because it’s Vegas, baby! Anything goes. Open liquor while wandering around on the street? Check. People smoking INSIDE BUILDINGS? Check. People shoving cards for Hot Ass Escorts in your hand as you walk by? Check, check, triple check.

I’m not at all a gambler, and didn’t even put a dollar in a slot machine, although my husband enjoyed a bit of it. Gotta make some money for your little honey, as the sweaty cab driver said to my husband on the way to the hotel from the airport. Buddy! For all he knew I could have been the primary breadwinner in the family. I would have been outraged but I was too busy looking out the window, trying to spot Elvis.

As it turned out, the only Elvis (or, Elvii) I saw were two glittery-jumpsuited men outside of Caesar’s Palace, looking for tourists with whom to get their photos taken. I did not partake, because there is “fun and campy” and then there is “sad and depressing” and those two were definitely in the latter group. And yet, there is so much to do, besides gambling and looking for Elvis (or Elvii).

We met up with three other couples to celebrate a friend’s fiftieth birthday, and by far the most fun we had was going to a duelling piano bar. Duelling pianos is probably the most fun concept ever imagined, besides karaoke, and our duelling pianists were twin sisters from Syracuse, New York. This is also one of the best parts of Las Vegas: the name tags that detail where an employee is from. I had a great time imagining what brought Deena from St. Paul, or Hector from El Paso, to Las Vegas. Before you think that their stories must be depressing and gloomy, the cocktail waitress who brought my husband drinks while he gambled told him – upon his questioning – that the casinos were great to work for and provided health and dental benefits, as well as paid vacation. So, I’m going to keep imagining happy stories that don’t involve addiction or the downfall of society.

People watching in Las Vegas is very entertaining; there seem to be always tons of bachelor parties and stagettes, with girls wearing t-shirts and hats that say “Team Bride” surrounding a girl wearing a veil and a balloon hat, there are little old couples and actual newly-married couples wearing wedding clothes while at the blackjack table, there are families with small children and there are incongruous-looking couples, men with bright white running shoes and pale blue pleated jeans entwined with diamond-studded girls thirty years their junior. I was enjoying myself, imagining everyone’s day-to-day life in fun detail, all the while hoping that no one was doing the same with me.

This is because I, who have enjoyed robust and hearty good health with nary an issue for eight months, came down with a cold the day before we were slated to leave. It wasn’t a debilitating, trip-ruining plague or anything, but it was a sniffly nuisance nonetheless. I hoped that my intermittent nose-blowing wouldn’t lead anyone to think I was a cocaine addict or anything. My husband and I were idly poking around in the chi-chi stores in the Wynn, and exactly when he was conversing with the saleslady in a very expensive watch store, my nose started to bleed torrentially. I ran to the nearest marbled bathroom with my bleeding nose, while people around me averted their gaze. I have a cold! I swear I’m not a coke head!

Much more to come, I’m sure, but for now I’ll leave you with this giant statue of Popeye, that could be yours! It’s for sale – price available upon request so I’m guessing that price is a boatload of money. Does anyone have room for one of these? It’s full of whimsy.



  1. Despite the swaths of green that make up the golf courses, Vegas is actually relatively water-friendly. When the Colorado River basin water rights were divided up (an agreement that is still in effect today), Las Vegas effectively didn’t exist, so it got next to nothing in terms of water allocation. They have no way to renegotiate now (and with the Colorado basin being so extremely depleted it would be horrific PR to make an attempt), so they make do.

  2. I’ve only been to Vegas once about a decade ago. I made the mistake of going with some women who love to shop. I mean LOVE it. I innocently agreed to check out some stores with them and ended up on a seven hour shopping trip from which I mainly gathered that if one had no concerns about money at all, like, Richard Branson or something, one would be able to buy literally anything there. $500 cotton T shirt? Got them. $15,000 strappy sandals? Got those too. It was nuts. I haven’t been back since though probably due to shopping PTSD.

  3. All of this just made me want to go to Vegas even more, you know.

  4. I think you should buy the Popeye statue to keep Manny company if he ever returns.

    Glad you had a fun trip.

  5. I have never been to Las Vegas. Or maybe I have. You know, ’cause what happens in Vegas … oh, well. Never mind. I haven’t. I have it on good authority that it is ridiculously fabulous, though, and your Popeye statue supports that nicely, so, I assume it’s true.

    I truly enjoy the image of a compulsively sniffling you. My enjoyment is only enhanced by the idea that you were *paranoid* about others thinking you were a coke head, which of course would also support that, so, Bwa ha ha ha ha!

    Yogi gone bad. 😉

    You are so funny!

  6. Be assured, Nicole, we know that you would only snort vegan, ethically-sourced, gluten-free coke. Possibly from a Tetra Pak. 🙂 I’ve never been to Vegas – I would say i can’t believe people take small children there, but that would be silly, there is literally NOTHING that I can’t believe SOMEONE wouldn’t do at this point in my life. You and Rob should come to Ottawa next! I’ll find a Popeye statue somewhere to entice you!

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