I wonder if the people who go to Las Vegas know that the United States is facing an economical challenge. I also wonder if they know and understand that people are not supposed to have money to burn. I only ask this because I’ve seen a whole lot of people throwing money into machines and on tables and at scantily clad women while I’ve been in Las Vegas the past few days.
If I were not a person who read or watched television and only based my knowledge of the condition of the American economy on what I have seen the past two days; I would honestly assume that we were the richest nation on earth, we have no poor or homeless, everyone had jobs, everyone was secure, and everyone had hundreds and hundreds of dollars to just give away.
I sat with a group of older gentlemen this afternoon who were a-waitin for their “women-folk.” Yes, they actually did call them their “women-folk.” We were all in this amazing Parisian bakery inside the Paris Hotel and Casino. I was eating this chocolate twist that made me want to do a little happy dance, as it was almost as wonderful as the one I had when we were really in Paris, France. I was totally enjoying the decadence of it all without one ounce of guilt, when these gentlemen asked if they could use the extra chairs at my little table.
They were from Alabama, and they wanted to sit and wait for their “women-folk” who were shopping, would I mind if they just “sat a spell?” How could I possibly refuse?
The liberal lesbian from California with three white men from Alabama with their “God Bless America” baseball hats, their fanny packs, and their “Bama” t-shirts. What on earth could possibly go wrong?
Had I won any money they asked? Yes, I had won a little right here in the Paris Casino. What was I playing? The nickel Wheel of Fortune machine. Was I in Las Vegas on vacation? Yes, I suppose I was. Was I with my husband? No, I wasn’t married. “A pretty little thing (which sounds like thang in that southern drawl) like you?” “I just caint believe a man hasn’t laid claim to you.”
Now – at this particular point in time – I wondered if I really needed to make my gay-marriage, gay-rights stump speech. Did I really need to attack these 3 old white southern men who were simply a-waitin for their women-folk? Would it make a difference? Would they even understand what I was a-sayin?
They didn’t give me any time to answer them as they started drinking their Parisian coffee and talking politics amongst themselves. I started to eat my chocolate twist a little faster as I was sure the Republican rhetoric was going to force me from the table. I was thinking of what liberal comment I could make before leaving the table, and what gay image I could leave with them. I was preparing my little speech in my head when I heard one of them say: “I sure hope The President shows that Romney a thang or two in the debates. That poor white boy don’t stand a chance.”
I must have had this look of total shock on my face as these 3 men looked at me and apologized if they had offended me. I told them that I was not offended on any level and I apologized to them for just assuming they were white, southern Baptist, racist, homophobic men from Alabama. They roared with laughter and said that no they indeed were not, but their “women-folk” most certainly would fit that description!
I sat with these three men for another 45 minutes and we talked about more things than I could ever write on paper. These men were sweet and funny and knew the ways of the world. They hated the south of the 1960’s and never agreed with the whole slavery thang. They aren’t fans of the Rebel flag, they don’t like re-hashing the Civil War, they believe in the freedom of and from religion and don’t believe it has any place in government. They think Paul Ryan looks like Eddie Munster and they called Mitt Romney: “Milk-Toast.” I’m not exactly sure, but I don’t think it was a positive thang.
They do not like Chick-Fil-A, they love, love, love college football and confirmed for me that football in the south truly is a religion. These men were WWII veterans, and their voices changed when they spoke of their service to this Country during WWII. War has a way of defining the people who fight in it, and live to tell the tale. Their eyes filled with tears and they spoke softly of buddies who never came home and they told me that some 70 years later they have never really come to terms with the men they were told to kill. Indeed – war changes people.
I wanted to stay and meet the “women-folk” but I somehow knew that I would have absolutely nothing in common with these women, so I hugged each of these men, and went on my way. I stopped at a bench, pulled out my journal, and wrote down everything I could remember from the past 45 minutes. It was like taking notes during a college lecture on history, religion, philosophy, sports, politics and human nature all in one course!
I will smile every time I watch an Alabama football game knowing that these three men are somewhere together cheering on their Crimson-Tide. I will forever be grateful for their honesty, their kindness and the lessons learned in that Parisian Bakery in the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The jackpot I hit with these three men was far better than any I could have hit from a slot machine.