After spending the better part of a week in Las Vegas, I can only say that no one should ever suggest to me again that Alaskan moose nugget jewelry is in any way odd or strange. For odd or strange, you need only walk down the Vegas strip, the place where neon goes to die.
Within no more than six blocks of the hotel at which I was staying, I saw:
…A woman in Levis and a wedding veil with a t-shirt that read, “Buy me a shot. I’m tying the knot.”
…A covered flat bed truck with a sign that read, “Strippers delivered straight to you”. Were they all sitting in the back of the covered flatbed waiting to burst out at their next job?
…An overweight Elvis impersonator – and I mean overweight even if he was supposed to be fat Elvis – with an orange tan that could come from no natural substance known to man and could not possibly have been good for his health. He was arguing with bikers who were trying to take his picture without paying.
As I walked through the hotel lobby one night, a wedding party emerged from the elevator. The bride wore a traditional white wedding dress. The bridesmaids wore matching Levis and t-shirts with lovely bouquets. The woman I assumed to be the mother of the bride brought up the rear wearing a very traditional mother of the bride wedding suit and an extremely bemused look on her face. The groom was distinguishable only because his Levis seemed cleaner than the others.
And I thought to myself, “We’re not in Alaska anymore, Toto”.
Las Vegas is a popular spot for Alaskans to vacation. Next to Hawaii and Mexico, it seems to attract the most attention from our fine citizens. I can only assume that part of the draw of the town is knowing that you are going someplace that is even weirder than where you live. And there are some places in Alaska that set that bar pretty high.
But no matter how high a bar we set here in this state – need I say more than the word Fairbanks? – Vegas finds a way to leap over it.
It has hotels where lions sleep on top of a glass tunnel so that visitors can walk underneath and see…what? From my perspective, I saw what could have been the sides of two stuffed lions since they were so sound asleep they made no movement at all. While I watched, a man entered their little area, laid down next to one of the lions and affectionately rumpled his mane.
I hoped the lion didn’t have a grumpy personality if awakened before his nap was done. If he did, I imagine the show would have gotten much more interesting. But the lion barely stirred at the man’s touch. And so for what seemed like an inordinately long time, a huge crowd of people stood around watching this man lying next to a sleeping lion.
If they were that easily amused, think what we could charge them to watch one of our neighborhood moose slowly demolish my ornamental trees sometime in February. And for all those groups calling for Maggie’s removal from Alaska, exactly what part of a glass tunnel in a Vegas hotel lobby is natural habitat for an African lion?
But the piece de resistance came when, for reasons best left unsaid, I was looking through the Vegas yellow pages under the word “strippers”. And there it was, for all to see – an ad for strippers who were “barley” women. I looked once, then I looked twice. On a page surrounded by ads for every variety of man and woman that you can imagine, the barley women stood out.
What is a barley woman, I wondered. Does she come surrounded by stalks of barley? Is her hair done in barley? Does she do something special with barley if you engage her services?
My cousin interrupted my thoughts to explain that it was merely a misspelling of the word “barely”. Of course, that’s just what you’d expect someone from Vegas to say. Especially someone who’s been to Alaska and actually had the nerve to make comments about the appropriateness of moose nugget jewelry for formal eveningwear.
But I don’t buy her explanation. I think there is something about barley we don’t yet know. And to be honest, I’d just as soon never learn.