The following is true. I could not make it up if I tried...
This New Year’s Eve, and Dave and I, along with our friend Michelle, visited our college friend, Ron in Palm Springs for New Year’s weekend.
“Be sure to wear something nice,” Ron told us before we got dressed for the evening. Dave and I had not been out on New Year’s Eve in many, many years, so I was really looking forward to getting dressed up and counting down with people other than Ryan Seacrest and Dick Clark, hours past my actual bedtime to celebrate the new year.
With people my own age.
And no kids in sight.
Dave wore black pants and a nice shirt. I wore a short patterned dress with black boots. I even did my hair. Michelle looked stunning in a one-shouldered black dress. Ron wore a plaid vest and matching jacket. And his murse.
Unable to get tickets to the Rolling Stones cover band at Agua Caliente Casino, we opted for a party at a nearby resort that featured a DJ, followed by a classic rock cover band.
Our first clue should have been that this venue did not charge a cover.
Our second clue should have been the elderly woman exiting the very upscale resort entrance wearing polka-dot Capri pants and an oxygen tank.
Still, Dave, Michelle and I made our way through the exterior entrance while Ron parked the car, excited about ringing in the new year with dear friends and maybe making some new ones on the dance floor.
We could hear loud music coming from the lobby behind the resort’s front doors.
With one last primp of the hair and straightening of the dress, we flung open the heavy doors to find…
A bunch of families on vacation filling the lobby floor, surrounded by elderly couples in velvet, sequins and lame` watching everyone cut loose to "Celebration" on the dance floor.
"It looks like a wedding,” Dave said, as a flock of pre-pubescent boys wearing flannel shirts and sideways baseball caps came tearing through us, sliding on their knees to the dance floor.
Michelle and I couldn’t speak. As dressed up as we were, we looked like 30-something hookers next to the clean-cut all-American families cutting a rug to, at this point, “Hey, Mickey!”
We laughed so hard I not only lost all of my mascara, I nearly lost all of my bladder control too. I made a quick dash to the restroom where I overheard two elderly women in sequins remarking to each other, “This is just the happening place to be!”
Thinking the party for grownups who did not have their kids or their AARP cards with them must be in another part of the resort, we explored the ballrooms (empty) and the back patio (where the 13-17 year olds apparently escaped their parents to go make out while a band covered Beatles songs in Spanish). We looked around for Ashton Kutcher, thinking we surely were being punk’d, but he was nowhere in sight.
Just then, Ron finally showed and rescued us from the Griswold Family Reunion and took us to the casino with an hour to go before midnight, where things were bound to be better...
Fast-forward to 11:55 pm:
Dave sat in the poker room trying to take pension money from old people (apparently they are mass-produced in Palm Springs) and unable to receive any texts, while Michelle, Ron and I sat at the one bar on the property open to the public, wondering where the poker room was.
This bar faced the main entrance. It was dimly lit with light blue tones. Beyond the bar was a restaurant resembling a Denny’s. There were a couple of drunk businessmen to our left and a couple of gigantic hooters trying to escape some poor girl’s push-up bra to our right, with a throng of young men around her, ready to come to their rescue.
Sipping our drinks out of disposable cups – and looking radiant doing so – the three of us counted down the end of 2009 with our bartender who, we discovered, had not only never heard of the Regal Beagle, but, three minutes into the new year, would shout, “Last call!”
We finished our drinks and set out to find Dave…
Dave, meanwhile, sat in the poker room beefing up the pensions of the old people who, at the stroke of midnight, looked out into the rest of the casino and grumbled, “Why are they being so loud?... When are they going to quiet down?... What’s with all the noise out there?”
After checking in with Dave, Michelle and Ron decided to hit the Blackjack table. I tagged along for moral support and to protect Michelle from the Russian man who seemed to be following her.
But as we made our way to the tables, we found ourselves behind a very elderly woman in a wheelchair, scooting along the packed casino by moving her chair a few inches at a time with her foot.
Ron, being the kind-hearted and concerned gentleman that he is, leaned down to her and asked her if she needed any help.
“WHY, YES I DO, YOUNG MAN!” she shouted in a voice that could best be described as a cross between Marge Simpson and Dick Cheney.
“Are you headed back to your room?” Ron asked (because it was after 1:00 in the morning, not because he planned to join her there).
"NO!” she shouted, “PAI GOW! WE'RE GOING TO PAI GOW!” And she nodded to the Pai Gow table 40 feet to her left.
Then, thrusting her arm in that direction she barked at Ron one last time, “AND YOU CAN GO AS FAST AS YOU WANT!”
Without delay, Ron wheeled his new BFF to the Pai Gow table, where she joined a friend.
Needless to say, she stayed at the casino much longer than we did. I just hope she came out better with Pai Gow than Dave did at the poker table.
And so I leave you all with the first lesson I learned in this new year...
PAI GOW! May 2010 bring you everything you need, as fast as you want.