I snapped my cell phone shut and reached for my iced tea. As I brought the bottle towards my lips, small beads of condensation dripped onto my bare stomach. Tickled by the unexpected chill, I wiped away the droplets, simultaneously reclining in my plastic-strapped chair.
I inhaled deeply, allowing my lungs to noticeably inflate beneath my green polka-dot bikini top as the desert sun soothingly warmed my skin. And yet, my mind could not relax.
Mentally spinning, I tried to comprehend the past twelve hours, and how I had come to be at this poolside oasis of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The alarm clock buzzed at five. After ignoring several rings, So-Far-Normal-Jon reluctantly acknowledged its persistence. Untwisting his arm from the sheets, he began desperately swatting for the snooze button.
Although it was an early morning for him, it had been a late night for me, and, having never fallen asleep, I was now comforted in knowing that there were only five more minutes until the night’s expiration—finally, it was V-day.
We met Gary, Jon’s father and the sponsor of our trip, downstairs. Our Vegas vacation was dedicated to the March Madness basketball tournament. To me, this annual event was nothing more than a string of basketball games that ultimately named the college champions. However, to Jon and his father, March Madness was a very serious, high-stake gambling event.
While we waited, the boys babbled about basketball. Gary’s cell phone rang, interrupting their conversation; our town car had arrived to take us to JFK airport.
It was still dark outside, and a palpitating, icy rain fell from the sky as the three of us wheeled our luggage to the curb. Driving to the airport, I sat between father and son, physically blocking the ball talk.
I had never flown first class before, and now it seemed as if a red carpet was being rolled out specifically for us. Upon arrival at the airport, we effortlessly made our way to the gate’s first-class lounge. There, we sipped coffee and enjoyed tiny blueberry muffins until it came time to board the plane. Takeoff anxiety was eased by first-class accommodations, a warm washcloth, and a cold Bloody Mary. When we arrived in Vegas, the red carpet poured from the plane onto the jetway, leading to the limo that would escort us to the MGM Grand.
Walking into the hotel, Jon and his father’s eyes widened; where eyeballs used to be, there were now images of basketballs and dollar signs. Unable to wait another minute before getting in the game, we left our luggage with the bellhop, arranging to return later to check-in.
Gary took the lead, his wallet instinctively knowing the way through to the Sports Book, MGM’s official game-watching, bet-placing station. Jon followed, equally anxious about their time crunch—only ten more minutes to place opening bets. I rubbernecked my way through the casino, loosely following the men.
The Sports Book, too, was lined with red carpet—Gary’s requested sky box had also been prepared—like royalty, we would watch the games from above, overlooking the masses as they scribbled their bets onto makeshift betting brackets.
Once ascended to the superior spectating position, however, I quickly lost interest in the activity—sitting inside, watching TV is no way to spend a vacation. Enthusiastically excusing myself, I followed my red carpet path directly to the pool, my polka-dot bikini stashed in my purse, ready to be worn.
My phone rang just as I was situating on a sun-kissed lounge chair. The word “Father” appeared on the screen.
“Hello. How are you?” I said, trying to keep the focus on him. I had not told him about my vacation—a daughter’s Vegas escapades with a wealthy city boy are no business for parents.
“I know. The weather has been terrible here too!” I said, remembering the New York rain that I had left behind. I spoke in the present tense as if still plagued by the precipitation.
We had a short conversation, and then I said goodbye. Although I felt slightly guilty for my lies, I knew it was for the best.
I snapped my cell phone shut and reached for my iced tea.