Tuesday, June 19, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 15

Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on March 19th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 2 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 2

Lame Vegas: Seeing Sin City is not the same with the woman who has kept me out of trouble since 1974


How do you get a group of cowboys to turn their mosey into a full sprint across Las Vegas Boulevard? Shout “Run!” Easy enough, right? The thing is, I wasn’t yelling at them.

Just days before my birthday, I flew to Las Vegas to escort my mom on an impromptu trip to see a relative in the hospital. Though the trip wasn’t about having fun, I thought: It’s days before my 40th birthday. It’s Vegas. I have to make something epic happen.

And why not? I’ve gotten myself into some pretty awesome adventures. “Why not” turned out to be sitting on the plane seat next to me.

First of all, I was in Vegas with my mom, so that immediately dropped my chances of epic-ness and, second, my mom still thinks I’m 12 years old. My dad told me to take care of her, but I could tell in her mind having me there was like taking care of a child on a trip.

Mom: “You can’t wear that. It’s too cold.”
Me: “Mom your body temperature doesn’t reflect what everyone is feeling. It’s Vegas; it’s warm and 75 degrees.”
Mom: “It’s cold; wear a sweater.”
Me: “I got one.”
Mom: “Well, tie it around your waist.”
Me: (Just to flex my independence) “I prefer to hold it, thank you.”

Then, later, it was about my preferred choice of footwear. I like to wear flip-flops. In Spanish, there is a term for flip-flops—it’s “chanclas.” However, the word isn’t a translation for flip-flops or sandals. When my mom used, it it was a derogatory way of calling my flip-flops “shower shoes.”

Mom: “You can’t wear chanclas to the strip.”
Me: “I wear flip-flops to meetings with clients.”

Mom: (Rolls her eyes and waves her hand dismissively at me while shaking her head.)

Translation: “You’re crazy. You’re going to trip, and I’m going to say I told you so.”

Minutes after we landed in Vegas, we checked in at our hotel, dropped our bags, grabbed a cab, and headed to the hospital to visit her sister. That evening, after our visit, we decided to hit the strip.

“You can’t just hail a cab; this isn’t New York,” the man at the info desk said rudely when I asked him after an hour of waiting for our cab if I’d have better luck hailing one on the street.

So we waited. It was 6 p.m., and my mom had her own epic mission in Vegas: She wanted to buy my dad a particular hat from a particular store on the strip, and she wasn’t going to rest, shower, or head back to the hotel until she got it.

When a couple who had been waiting longer than us for a cab offered to share a cab to the strip, we took them up on their offer. The husband sported a giant bruise on his head from a nasty fall. The wife gave us the gory details of the poor man’s unknown condition that came on suddenly while they were in town. They couldn’t determine the cause, she said.

I slowly rolled down my window and tried to casually breathe in the exhaust-filled air rather than the suspicious germs that might be floating around the cab. I tried to get my mom to do the same, but she simply chatted away with the couple, not catching my subtle cues from the back seat.

I thought, if my mom catches some weird disease, my dad is going to kill me.

With a renewed sense of “take care of mom,” I hurried her to the hat store once we arrived at the strip. Of course, they didn’t have the hat.

I tried to get her to eat, as we hadn’t eaten a thing since breakfast. She said she didn’t like the food on the strip. So I tried to get her to rest for a bit. She didn’t want to do that either. She just wanted to find that hat. After searching a while, she gave up.

I thought we were done. I thought maybe now it’s time for something epic. Something crazy. Even my husband, from home, was asking me why I’d go all that way and not have some fun on the strip. But Mom wanted to go back to the hotel. I looked at the clock; we had three minutes to catch our hotel shuttle.

We started to cross Las Vegas Boulevard with only seven seconds left to cross. My mom, all 5 feet of her, walks slow. She actually saunters. I know that cars aren’t too pedestrian friendly in Vegas, especially at night, and I could hear my dad admonishing me for letting my mom get hit by a car, so I looked back and forcefully yelled at her to run and started to jog myself.

Looking back, I was leading a large group of cowboys in a sprint. It looked like a flock of birds in a “V” formation extending out behind me.

And at the very back was my asthmatic mother, clutching at her purse—or maybe it was her chest. Her face looked like she was trying to move faster, but her body wasn’t showing it.

I reached out to grab her and one of the men said, “Why are we all running?”

“I was yelling at her,” I said and dragged my mom to the curb just before cars zoomed across the crosswalk.

She wasn’t having an asthma attack; she was laughing, hard.

“You got all those guys to run. All I could see was you in your skirt and flip-flops leading these guys like a group of birds. They didn’t even know why they were running,” she said between breaths. “And all I could think was that you were going to fall in those shoes.”

So it wasn’t epic, but celebrating 40 years of life by having a good hard laugh with the woman who started it all isn’t too bad either.


A few days later, Shelly’s mom bought her a fancy pair of flip-flops for her birthday. Send her comments through the managing editor at aasman@santamariasun.com.

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