By Mark David Blum, Esq.
I was at a wedding recently in Las Vegas. During the post nuptial celebratory feast, my new “big sister” told people at the table to keep quiet because she said I would write about it on my website. (I should note there was a lengthy debate whether she was my new big sister or my new older sister; neither of which she liked). I, of course denied that I would share my wedding experience with my reader. Alas, but I cannot resist.
Before I get to the wedding, I want to share the travails of my journey westbound. Overall, I spent 24 hours in airports and airplanes out of the 36 hours I was away from home. Most of the reason was due to United Airlines and the chaos of TSA.
I should have known my trip was going to be jinxed when I could not print out a seat assignment on the flight out of Syracuse. The airlines now make you buy your ticket and get your seat assignment and boarding pass online. There is an additional fee if you have to use the services of an actual human being. When I was unable to get a seat assignment, I called United and was told that seating was to be assigned at the airport on the morning of the flight. This of course meant I had to get to the airport earlier than I would have liked because of the line I would have to stand in to get that seat assignment. When I arrived at the airport, I was told that the seat would be assigned at the gate so I had to have that last cigarette sooner than I wanted and headed off through security and to the gate.
About a half hour away from Chicago, the pilot comes on the public address system and says he is going to be slowing down because Chicago airport is closing due to visibility problems. I thought planes flew on instruments and being able to see an eighth of a mile would be enough to put the plane on the ground.
Unfortunately I was wrong. After travelling slowly to Chicago and then circling the airport for a while, the plane needed refueling and was diverted to South Bend, Indiana. Upon arrival there, we sat on the tarmac for what seemed like hours before we were finally cleared into Chicago and were airborne. By the time I arrived in Chicago, I had missed my connection but was told not to worry as there would be airline personnel there to greet the plane and help all of us who missed our connections. The guy next to me missed his flight to Honolulu.
By the time I got off the plane in Chicago, I had about two hours to get on a plane for Vegas or I would miss the wedding. There were no United personnel there at the gate to help us lost and weary travelers. The airport was absolutely jammed wall to wall with people lined up everywhere. Apparently my flight was but one of many to be similarly messed up and there were distraught and displaced travelers everywhere. I saw the line at the customer service desk was hundreds of people long and I knew I would not get helped in time to make my deadline.
Thinking my only salvation would be on the next flight out of Chicago for Vegas, I checked the monitors. There was only one more flight that was time worthy and it was leaving in 20 minutes. The gate was terminal B and I was at the end of terminal F. What this translated to was a good wind sprint as I hustled my bones and carry on luggage to the Vegas gate.
When I finally arrived at the Vegas gate I explained my daughter was getting married and I had to get on that last flight out. OK, so I lied – it wasn’t my daughter. My mother is the one who was getting married and I was expected to be giving her away. I thought ‘daughter’ would have more impact and tug at more heartstrings and so I played that card. I made it to number 16 on the standby list. On what was otherwise billed as being a full flight, I gave up hope and donned my biggest puppydog eyes while I asked the gate employee to help put me back on a plane to Syracuse if I did not make it.
Long story short, my flight from Syracuse was not the only one delayed and there were apparently many folks who missed their connection to this last flight. Fortunately, they made it to #17 on the standby list and so yes, I made it to Vegas. My journey was only interrupted by the nonstop 4 hours of crying and kicking of the terrible 2 yr old seated behind me and his desperate parents comforting him in a blazingly fast Spanish. When I finally arrived in Vegas, I got on the shuttle which drove around for about an hour, checked into my hotel and sat in a long and hot Jacuzzi bathtub while I boiled away the stress and dirt of the day. I put in a wakeup call for an hour while I dropped dead in my bed and tried to snooze.
Of all the hotels I was booked into in Vegas, my mother arranged for me to be at the Trump International. Its not a bad hotel but it lacks a fundamental requirement of a hotel in Vegas. It had no casino. Of what value is being in Vegas if there is no place where you can lose your money and get free drinks?
Eventually I walked over to the Wynn Hotel where the wedding was held. They had a casino and was packed with people. Down a hallway were a series of wedding rooms where the hotel had one wedding scheduled after another. They were on a strict schedule of being an hour apart and the marriages were being churned out like broke gamblers. Drunken wedding guests and disgruntled fathers in law were everywhere.
As I was walking my mother down the aisle, I kept whispering her that she still had time to make a run for it. It wasn’t too late. She had only known the guy 25 years and I suggested they should get to know each other better before getting hitched. I even suggested they live together for a while (something they had been doing for the past 20 years). Being a good lawyer, I thoroughly checked the marriage license for a loophole.
At the feast that followed the ceremony, suddenly came time for the toast. Now you have to understand that both the bride and groom already had several grown children and a zoo of grandchildren. They are both “senior citizens” so you can see the humor as I wished that their marriage last a hundred years and that they be fruitful and multiply. I also welcomed ‘them’ to my family and called the groom “Daddy”. That last comment did not go down very well with some of his children.
We drank. We ate. A thousand pictures were taken. One grandchild replicated the mountain from Close Encounters of the Third Kind by molding his piece of wedding cake with his hands. (One more reason abortion should be legal to age 18). Everybody was in love and had a great time. The once formal niceties between families evaporated and I knew I was welcome when one of my new siblings in law referred to me as a prick and an asshole. Ahh, family; the only ones who will tell you the truth to your face.
By the time it was over it was way late and I was exhausted. It was past midnight Vegas time which meant it was past 3 a.m. on my body’s own east coast clock. Coupled with the disaster with United Airlines and the number of hours I had been in transit that day, and I was about to collapse. Slowly I made my way from the party back to my hotel room and passed out cold – until the 5 a.m. wake up call.
When I got to the airport I became aware that I was in the gambling Mecca of the world at had not risked a dime to win a million. There just had not been time. At the airport there was an island of nickel slot machines and since I couldn’t smoke a cigarette anywhere, I went and risked a dollar on a one armed bandit. As I slowly gave my nickels to the airport commission, the lady seated next to me hit the top winner on her machine and won 1,000 nickels. In English, one thousand nickels is $50.00 but it sure looked like she hit it big. Me, I could just watch in envy as the counter keep adding credits to her machine and the whistles and bells reminded me to be sure not to put any more money in my machine. So, I travelled all the way to Vegas and gambled only $1.00. I won 25 cents but gave it back.
The flight back was fortunately not through Chicago but instead went to Washington D.C. Upon arrival, I went to the connecting gate for the flight back to Syracuse. When I got there, there was a sign that said the flight was delayed. “Why is the flight delayed?” asked I. “Because there is no plane” said the gatekeeper. “Where is the plane?” queried I. “I don’t know” said she. “Is it in the air?” asked I. “Yes” said she. “Where?” said I. “Somewhere between Austin and here” said she. “Don’t you know when it will arrive?” questioned I. “No” said she. “Why not?” asked I. “Because of bad weather” said she. Looking at the blue skies out the window, “are you sure?” asked I. “Yes” said she. The plane to Syracuse landed about an hour late and left an hour after that. The flight was quick painless and actually found Syracuse without a problem.
When I got home, I had no idea what day it was, what time it was, or even where I was. My body clock was misfiring and I was exhausted beyond words. I know my mother appreciates what I went through to be at her wedding. It was important for her that I be there to give her away. It was even more important for me since I had been trying to give her away for 50 years. Payback is a bitch. Now I can rest easy.