A Tale Of Two Garths. Chapter Nine. Neil Diamond and Teardrop Tattoos.
After my dad and Violet dropped off their stuff in their room it was party time. The four of us had a congratulatory drink and toasted to the weekend ahead. And now it was time for dinner. I always love eating with my dad because he not only ALWAYS picks up the tab but he knows how to do things right. There is no Denny’s for my dad. That may be nice for other people, but my dad has worked hard for his money. He knows how to save it, and he knows how to spend it.
“Don’t you girls eat anything?” my dad asked as Hung and I picked at our salads in the nicest steak house in Laughlin.
“What do you mean? We ARE eating,” I said back to him while rolling my eyes.
“We are in a steak house and you two are eating salads. Small salads.” And it begins.
“I’m a vegetarian,” I informed him for the 70th time.
“Hung, are you a vegetarian?”
“Um, no,” Hung said clearly not wanting to get into the conversation.
“Do you want a steak? Look at these steaks,” he said while pointing at his and Violets plates with giant steaks, loaded baked potatoes, and veggies.
“No thank you,” Hung told him.
“You both are so skinny,” he continued.
“Dad, we’re fine.” I said while giving him the “Enough” look.
“Ooookaaay, but you don’t know what you’re missing,” he said like his taunting was all of a sudden going to make us forget we lived in LA and break the first rule of living in LA. “Don’t eat anything. Ever!” It was hard to do, but Hung and I managed to drag out eating our appetizer-sized salads until my dad and Violet were done with their meals.
“Do you girls want some dessert?” he asked.
“No,” we said in unison.
“You girls are so skinny,” was the last thing we heard out of his mouth as we ditched them and took off for a parentless casino.
“See you tomorrow,” I said over my shoulder while we ran out of the steak house. “We won’t be late.”
As soon and Hung and I were outside we just stood along the river way staring down the river at all the blinking lights.
“Which one?” Hung asked.
“I don’t know. How about eenie meenie minie moe?” But before we could catch a tiger by the toe Hung had pointed out The Colorado Belle Hotel and Casino.
“I like it. It looks like a boat,” she said. And well if Hung liked it, well then damn it, so did I. The Belle it was.
My dad was kind enough to give Hung and I some money to play with. So we spent a little time at the slots because neither one of us were brave enough to try the tables. After we had drunk our fair share of watered down casino cocktails she and I decided to go hang out in the darkest seediest lounge I had ever been in.
“Why are we here?” Hung asked me.
“I have no idea,” I responded in a whisper. As I looked around all I could see were people three times our age anxiously waiting for the entertainment to take the stage.
“Stacy, is there anyone in this town under the age of 70?” Hung asked me.
“HAHAHA, that’s funny. Uuuuhhh, my dad and Violet are.”
“They don’t count,” she said dryly.
“Shhhhhh,” I said as I put my finger to my lips. “Hung can you be quiet please? Old people scare easily.”
“Please remind me why I came here with you again?”
“Because you love me and you didn’t want me to spend the entire weekend with the cast of Cocoon all by myself.”
“You owe me big time.”
After we got our giant long Island Ice Teas from the cocktail waitress I was giddy with excitement in anticipation of what was about to come on stage. The house was packed. “Every blue hair in Laughlin is here, this must be the place to be,” I told Hung with eyes wide with young eagerness. That’s when possibly the most talented musician took the stage and began singing a song I had known so well.
But it don’t sing and dance and it don’t walk.
And long as I can have you here with me
I’d much rather be
Forever in blue jeans.
But it ain’t nothing next to baby’s treat.
And if you pardon me
I’d like to say we’ll do okay
Forever in blue jeans. “
I was so excited I took the lighter out of my pocket that I used to smoke my pot with and lit a flame for my new favorite man in Laughlin.
“This. Is so. AWESOME!!!!!” I told Hung while shaking my head around and playing air guitar.
“Who is this?” And that’s when I stopped cold.
“You don’t know who Neil Diamond is?” I asked her in utter shock.
“Who are you?” I said while shaking me head in shame. And that’s when I decided to join the Neil impersonator and sing for my friend in a dark lounge.
By the fire all alone you and I;
Nothing around but the sound of my heart and your sighs.”
I sang to her looking her deep in the eyes, giving her my best come hither stare.
“Stacy, you are starting to spook the old people.” And Hung was right. As I started to emerge from my Neil induced coma I noticed that we were being watched and not in a good way. I could only imagine what they were saying to each other.
“Hal, would you just look at those two lesbians over there?”
“Well, I have never seen such a vulgar display in all my life. And one of those girls is a Chinese. What would their parents say? Hal… Hal are you listening to me?”
“Yes, Gladys, I am. I’m watching them to make sure there isn’t any funny business going on. I wouldn’t want to miss any funny business.”
“Oh, Hal. Why I never.”
“I know Gladys. I know.”
But Hung and I stayed and Hung suffered through me jumping up and down every time a new Neil song was sung.
“Hey Hung, look!” I said as I pointed out into the sea of flabby loose skin and false teeth. There he was. The all-elusive young male.
“There is another young person here!” I was super juiced up at this point. That meant if there was one, there might be more. Hung and I just sat back and observed him. We knew he wasn’t in his natural habitat and didn’t want to frighten him off.
“That lady he’s with is really old,” Hung observed.
“Dude, maybe that’s his mom.”
“Oh, good point.” But then the young buck got up and went to the bathroom. As soon as he left a hyena had snuck down from the mountains to steal his prey. One of the older men in the lounge sat down in the young man’s seat and proceeded talking to the mother and touching and rubbing her hand.
“Now this is getting interesting,” Hung mentioned. And she was right. It was like watching National Geographic: The Seniors Years played out in a dark cocktail lounge. But love was not meant to bloom. Before the old man knew what hit him the young guy came back from the bathroom and words were exchanged. I have to hand it to the old guy, he didn’t back down. The young guy puffed up his chest, the old guy attempted to puff up his chest. But he just didn’t have it in him, the young guy had driven him off with words we couldn’t hear but hand gestures we knew all too well.
Before we knew it security had come up and was trying to escort the young guy away.
“That’s not right,” Hung said. “He was just getting that creepy guy away from his mom. If anyone should be kicked out it should be the old guy.” Hung had a point. Or did she? Eh. Who cares? We were drunk.
“You’re right, lets go help him,” I told Hung. After all, I would have done the same thing if some guy were trying to have sex with my mom. Who am I kidding? No I wouldn’t. I would have been like, “Right on mom!” But this wasn’t me and my spinster mother we are talking about. This was the young stranger and he was in trouble and Hung and I were the only ones who could save him! So Hung and I went to stop put a stop to the oppressors, Better known as casino security.
“He didn’t do anything,” I said as we walked up on the scene.
“Yes he did. He threatened me,” the old guy said.
“Because you’re an asshole!” the young guy countered. “You’re lucky I don’t kick your ass!” The young dude really wasn’t going to make our job easy, was he?
“Look, we were sitting right over there and as soon as he (pointing at the young guy) got up, this guy (pointing at the old dude) swooped in and started hitting on his mom and was all over her. He (young guy) was just trying to stop him (old dude).” At this point I could tell the old guy was getting really pissed because this is not exactly how he had planned this whole thing going down. He never planned on the X-Factor: Two drunk wild cards from LA.
“If anyone should go it should be him (old dude).” Hung said. And that was it, the old dude was kindly escorted out and the young guy got to stay. Mission accomplished. The young guy and his mom thanked us and we returned back to our seats just in time for the Neil impersonator’s rendition of Love On The Rocks.
Before we knew it the young guy was at our table and buying us cocktails after his mother went up to her room. I could get used to this hero stuff. So we hung out with him for a little while and he told us his cousin was up in his room and that we should go get him and cruise the casinos.
“That sounds fun,” Hung said. Considering Hung was single and I had drug her to the blue hair capital of the world, I thought hanging with the cousin making small talk was the least I could do. As the three of us were walking through the casino to get to his hotel room our new friend proceeded to start three separate fights. Oh crap, we picked the wrong pony. He wanted to fight because a guy ran into him. He wanted to fight because a guy was ogling Hung. He wanted to fight because a guy said Bert was butcher than Ernie. You name it, it didn’t matter what was going on, this guy wanted to fight. Hung and I walked a little behind him trying to figure out the best way to ditch him.
“My room is right around this corner,” he said. Oh goody. Well we were pretty much at his room at this point, maybe we were going to get lucky and his cousin would be sane. But then Mr. Psychopath opened the door of his room to reveal a Mexican Gangsta Paradise. The room was packed with shirtless guys, jailhouse tattoos, and 40’s.
Holy fuck me. We are going to die!
“Come on in,” he said motioning for us to enter what I was pretty sure was going to be the scene of the crime. Hung just looked at me with what can only be described at total terror.
“You know what, why don’t we meet you at the bar,” I said trying to keep the fear out of my voice. At this point I really only wanted two things:
1) I wanted Hung and I to walk away from this room unharmed.
2) I really wanted to walk away without a teardrop tattoo below my eye.
“Are you sure?” he said. Hung and I stood in the hallway with our feet glued to the floor while at least 15 hardcore gangsters waited for our answer.
“I’m sure. We’ll be at the bar right around the corner,” I assured him.
“Okay. Once my cousin is ready we’ll meet you there.” Hung and I just nodded. Move feet. Move damn it! I willed my feet to move forward away from the room and Hung and I turned the corner into the casino. Once we hit the blinking lights we broke into a run and never looked back until we hit the lobby of Harrah’s.
Once inside Harrah’s we stopped long enough to plop ourselves down at the bar and try to laugh off the events of the evening.
“I thought he said cousin. As in one cousin,” I said.
“Once he opened that door and I saw all those guys I almost shit my pants,” Hung countered. It had been a long night. A long night that my dad, and Hung’s mom would not have been happy about. But we were alive and well and oh so happy that all those two-hour-a-day workouts had finally paid off. They may not have landed me a part in a movie but they sure as hell made it possible for us to run the length of three football fields without stopping. As far as we were concerned the night was over and it was time to go to bed. After all, we had a wedding to go to in the morning.
To be continued…
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