When Buck mentioned "The Bridges of Toko-ri", it made me think of a funny story. This is rather long. I told the long version just to get to a silly punchline. Keep in mind that this took place almost twenty years ago - a different time and era of my life.
In September of 1987 I was 29 years old (you do the math) and we were living in NM. My friend, Janetta was asked by the RR Ski Area to attend a ski show in Las Vegas which meant setting up a booth and passing out brochures pushing the Red River Ski Area. Janetta asked me and two other girls to go with her. It had been a long summer of working in our cafe; of course, I wanted to go. None of us had ever been to LV. Excitement was high.
Janetta, Joy, and Jodie were the other girls on the trip and my close friends. Jodie was the only single lady in the group. Joy and Janetta were like me – young, married with kids. Before we left, several people told me to "watch Janetta on her gambling". This did not give me an easy feeling. It also made me feel like I was the only one with any common sense in the group. It turns out that Janetta did not have a gambling problem. In fact, she was about the luckiest person I know. She mostly played the slots, and won! The problem, that no one warned me about, was her shopping habits. We probably went into every mall/shopping area in every casino in LV. Janetta shopped like a wild woman just grabbing things off the shelf and buying them. We each carried two bags home for Janetta on the return flight full of stuff she had bought. Her other funny habit was in tipping people. She tipped everyone from the maid who cleaned our room to the man who made our show reservations. It was wild, but we did get extra attention and a lot of good laughs at her.
My friend Joy was one of those girls who was always "cute", but with each child she birthed, she got more beautiful – and she had three kids. She was a little tiny thing with big boobs. She looked like the actress on "First Knight". Being from Ft. Worth, she had this slow Southern twang in a little tiny voice. She looked so young, that she got carded in every casino making the rest of us feel like oafs.
Jodie – well how do you describe Jodie? Jodie came to RR years earlier with Tom Brown. For those of you who know Tom, well, you know Jodie. She lived with several men during the years I knew her, but never married. She was a sexy redhead who just liked to have fun. I really liked her, but have lost track of her in recent years.
We stayed at the Tropicana and had a blast. By day we worked the ski show, and at night we hit the town. We managed to find time to sunbathe around the beautiful pool area. None of us were big gamblers. Mostly we went in and out of casino’s checking out the sights. We would eat some wonderful meal and then see a show. We would not get back to the hotelroom until the wee hours of the morning. Being a morning person, I could not break my habit of getting up early. Usually, I was the first up, and I would go down to find coffee and play the poker machines and watch the interesting people of LV while waiting on the girls. We did this for five days, which was three days too long – very hard on a body.
One of our first nights there, we went to Bali’s and saw George Carlin. The opening act was Paul Revere and the Raiders. Janetta tipped the maitre d’ so well, that we sat front and center – great seats. Afterwards, we went to some dance club. It was here that we discovered the Navy Tailhook convention was in Vegas too. It seemed that every guy we danced with was either in the Navy or a Marine. At one point some civilian guy was bothering Jodie. She hollered, "Where is the Navy when you need them." We were never alone or lacking for company after that. And the truth is we rarely saw Jodie after that.
The next night was similar to the first. Although, this time, we saw Siegfried and Roy. We sat so close to the stage, I could have pulled the tiger’s tail – thanks to Janetta’s tipping. Later at the dance club, we met a group of Navy pilots and their skipper. They were great fun. They took us to the Hilton and the big party for the Tailhook convention. The whole third floor of the Hilton was a party. We gathered in a room without any furniture other than a bar. There were pictures on the walls and movies playing of Navy ships, planes, bombs, etc. It was great. I was impressed. Our Navy buddies pointed out important people – Admiral So-and-so, the head of Top Gun, the Admiral’s wife…and of course, they explained the pictures, movies, and I am sure lied to us about all sorts of things. No one groped or grabbed us – all were gentlemen. There was one funny incident. While walking down the hall on the third floor of the Hilton, a group of young men stopped me and began singing to me (picture Tom Cruise in Top Gun). Then they pulled my fancy cowboy boot off and poured some sort of liquor down my leg and drank. It was really quite funny and harmless. I don’t remember what they sang; I just remember saying, "Not the boot!" fearing they would ruin my cowboy boot. I don’t know why they chose me. Throughout our time in LV, it was Joy that got most of the attention. Those Navy boys just flocked around her. She would just smile and chat with her cute little Southern accent. It made it difficult to get anywhere, because we constantly had to get her out of swarm of guys.
One other thing that was sort of funny/odd – Several times, I had trouble communicating. If I ordered a bake potato, I was brought mashed potatoes. If I ordered a steak medium rare, it came medium well. There were just many little incidents like this. Maybe my twang was difficult for people in Vegas to understand or maybe they just ignored what I said and went by what they thought I said. Who knows, but it got to be a big joke with the girls.
On our last day in LV, we had some time to kill before catching our plane home. Janetta wanted to go to the new LV mall for some more shopping. I spent most of the time in the mall bookstore. We caught our plane home after I had another misunderstanding with the sky-cab man. This misunderstanding was pretty serious, and he yelled at me over nothing. After five days in LV, I was just too tired to whip him, but the thought was there, and he certainly deserved a thrashing. For some reason we had a two-hour layover in Phoenix. We just sat around a table drinking cokes and staring into space. We started talking about funny things that had happen to us while in LV. I said, " You know what? While we were in that bookstore at the mall, I asked the clerk if she had the book 'The Bridges of Toko-Ri'. She said she did. I was really excited because I have been looking for that book for ages. But she took me back and showed me a book on how to win at bridge." Being so tired, the girls really laughed at my story. Then Joy, in her little voice said, " Did you buy it?" I looked at her oddly and said, "Of course I did not buy it!" Joy said, "Janetta would have bought it and tipped her too!" We all laughed with tears running down our cheeks. It was the perfect ending to our trip.