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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The time has come to tell you all of an ending and a beginning....

On March 7th, Leslie and I flew out to Las Vegas to make a good, solid week of it. I know there are people out there who like Las Vegas, but I find the whole city exhausting. The traffic on Las Vegas Boulevard ("The Strip") is horrible currently, especially in front of Steve Wynn's new 2.7 billion-dollar (yes, BILLION) hotel which isn't finished yet. The hotels are monuments to themselves, as vain and plastic as the many Californians who make a quick weekend of Las Vegas on a regular basis. Because Las Vegas is a boomtown, you can spit and hit a crane. Something is being built virtually every moment of every day. Going hand in hand with that, because this is the gambling capital of the United States, if you look hard enough, you can find something - or more to the point, someone - that is simultaneously being destroyed. It is a city of extremes like no other I've ever visited in this country.

Leslie and I journeyed there with happiness in mind. We caught a flight out of Milwaukee on Frontier Airlines, an overly cute carrier featuring adorable rabbits, bears and wild cats on their tail wings and pilots and flight attendants who go out of their way to crack jokes right before takeoff. I don't mind this approach. If an enormous jumbo jet is going to plummet into the side of any given Rocky Mountain causing widespread destruction and a fireball rivaled only by Nagasaki, go down laughing. This almost made up for the fact that the snacks they offered being subpar. I'll stop now before I pontificate on the subject of their pay TV service.

After catching a connecting flight in Denver, we landed in Las Vegas on Monday afternoon. We had decided to rent a car to get around town for the week. As my inaugural rental in the Hertz #1 Club, they "upgraded" me to a Ford Escape, a smallish SUV that boasted abysmal gas mileage and a rather irritating repeating reminder that my seat belt wasn't fastened. For the balance of the week, I fastened the seat belt to itself and twisted it behind my seat. I don't wear seat belts. When I was younger, I hit a stone wall, spun around, hit a utility pole and flew out the back windshield head first. Luckily, I was thrown from the car, because it was crushed. I haven't worn a seat belt since that night, and I won't. And THAT is how I stick it to the man!

We stayed at the Las Vegas Hilton, former home of Elvis and current home -much to our mutual horror - of Barry Manilow. The absolute worst part of our stay in the Hilton was their insistence on playing Barry Manilow's songs in every square inch of the hotel as often as humanly possible. After three days of being pummeled by Manilow's syrupy odes, I felt like a fat, gassy Yenta. Leslie and I are still recovering from the sonic onslaught. On our trips to the Hilton pool adjacent to the 3rd floor of the hotel, we sunbathed and swam in the shadow of a banner on the side of the hotel featuring an 80-foot visage of Barry Manilow, as if we could stand the 6-foot version. The hotel also featured a Barry Manilow store, where you could purchase handbags and t-shirts that proudly displayed the bearer's love of all things Barry. As I passed this store daily on the way to the parking garage, I longed for a flame thrower.

Our room was on the 26th floor, and looked out on the mountains surrounding the city. I was amazed at how these enormous land masses just disappeared every day after the sunset. It was refreshing to have something natural as a view from the window. The king size bed in the hotel room had upon it a mattress pad which did not quite fit the bed or the mattress and made a nightly sojourn up my butt crack as a result. ..

(to be continued 3/16/05 11:25 PM CST)

Friday, March 04, 2005

Usually, I like to reserve this space for short stories, opinion and some of my songs, but I was inspired to write about something very special that happened to me this evening. Think of this is need be as a "male mea culpa", as I really don't know what else to call it.
As an American heterosexual male, I've always been physically attracted to women. It's hard to talk about this in anything but sexual terms, because, as any woman knows, testosterone often intercedes on behalf of true emotional connection. Having said that, I've always made the typical male mistake of mistaking physical attraction with emotional attachment. This has led me down a lot of incorrect trails in my life.
I came home from work today and fell asleep at about 5 PM. I slept for about four hours. In the interim, Leslie came home and accomplished some tasks while I was sleeping. Because of the type of work she does, she often tires early in the day, and at 9:15 tonight, she came to bed. I snuggled with her for just short of an hour as she fell asleep. Usually, when we snuggle together, the blood rushes to my waist, with obvious physical consequences. Tonight, something happened to me that has never happened before. As I held Leslie, I felt what could only be described as the purest form of love I've ever felt for another human being. As I held her in my arms, I felt my arms, hands, legs and chest melting into this beautiful human being, and I could only feel happiness. The best thing about it all, and this is the strange part, is that Leslie fell asleep, and didn't even realize how I felt.
Two Sundays from now, Leslie and I are getting married. Our journey to this point hasn't been easy by any stretch of the imagination, and we both realize that many hurdles still present themselves to us. Holding Leslie tonight gave me such an intense feeling of piece of mind and heart that I know that I'm doing the right thing. It's always been tough for me to picture my life after 40. When I think of Leslie, or hold her, or see her smile, I know that this is the person I'll grow old with, and THAT is the basis of my life going forward. I hope everyone else in the world finds that kind of happiness.