VIVA LAS VEGAS---
OR NOT

      One of the great joys of being a parent is getting drunk with your kids. So when my youngest son invited me to Las Vegas for his 21st birthday party last week, I was raring to go.
      "VEGAS, BABY!!!!!" I shouted. "Gambling, alcohol, nightclubs, burlesque shows, oh, yeah!!! Letís go!!!"
      "Do you mind taking care of the cost of our two-bedroom hotel suite as my birthday present?" he innocently asked.
      Oh. I get it. My wallet got the invite, too.
      But it was no big deal. Apparently, 10 kids would be staying in the suite, and they were all chipping in, supposedly. And besides, another father was coming with his son who was also celebrating his 21st. So Iíd have someone to hang with once the kids took all my money and dumped me.
      I arrived on Thursday afternoon, before any of the kids, and checked in. The hotel clerk had me in the room next door to the suite. I immediately had it switched to a room seven floors above.
     After I inspected my measly little single room, I headed for the hotel pool, where I bought a $9.00 beer. No wonder they needed me.
     We all met in the suite a little later--my son, his older brother, their best friend, and seven girls who drove in with them from San Diego. Thatís who was staying in the suite. I quickly realized I wasnít about to be reimbursed.
     "Who wants a shot?" cried someone after about five seconds. Apparently, the party was starting, ready or not. I was looking longingly at the door, hoping the other father would walk in soon. I needed help.
     "Daddy doesnít do shots anymore," I calmly replied as the tequila they had transported across state lines started pouring.
    But Daddy eventually succumbed to peer pressure, even if all the peers were 20-somethings. It was Vegas, and it was my youngest sonís 21st. And I was celebrating the fact that I wasnít buying the drinks.
    That would soon change, however, as everyone prepared to head out for the long night of clubbing, or whatever they call it. They got dressed in their fancy clothes (It was worth the trip just to see my boys with a tie and their pants pulled up) and we headed out to dinner.
    By this time, the other 21 year old, along with his entourage and, thankfully, his father, showed up. Not only would he foot half the bill, weíd both look a little less perverted by not going solo with a bunch of young girls in tow.
    After paying for dinner, it was still too early to head for the clubs, since it was only 10:30 p.m., so it was time for the obligatory gambling. My sonís plan to give me shots and then have me fund his gambling fell flat.
    Instead, I reminded both of my sons what my wise father once told me while we drove down the Las Vegas strip when I was 10 years old.
    "See those spectacular buildings where no expense was spared to entice you to come in," he said as he pointed to the glittering casinos. "Where do you think they got the money to build those things?"
    Good advice, but it didnít stop them from heading to the blackjack tables, where they promptly lost about $100 each, or about half of their bank account. But they did get a free drink.
    Finally, it was time for the clubs. This is why we were here, apparently. Itís what you do in Vegas, besides gambling. I hate Vegas.
    But I went to the first club with them, anyway. There was no one there over 23 except the other father and me. We were completely invisible, which suited me just fine. If no one looked at us, they couldnít think we were perverts.
    After about 20 minutes, I was ready to go home. I certainly didnít want to follow them to the fancy clubs, where you can avoid the long lines by buying a table, complete with a bottle of vodka, for only about $1500. I was happily done for the evening.
    On my solo taxi ride back to the hotel, I reflected on the night. It wasnít that costly, I got to hang out with my boys, and I didnít get arrested. All in all, it was a good night. And by the time they got back to the hotel at 7 a.m. I was on a flight home. Perfect. VEGAS, BABY!!!!
 

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