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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Jeweled City on the Horizon

I’m not even 21 years old and yet I have been to Las Vegas, Nevada more times than I can count. It has always been my parent’s favorite vacation spot ever since they first honeymooned there in 1974. For my parents, sin city has become a mecca of sorts – the object of the pilgrimage they make nearly ever year (sometimes twice a year). Though Las Vegas nowadays is often advertised as a playground for adults, for much of the early 1990’s, it was also strangely marketed at families. While my parents spent much of their time at the casinos, my older siblings and I would run amok with Merlin and the Knights of the round table at the Excalibur or witness pirates sword fighting at Treasure Island. And besides enduring 100-degree temperatures (even at 9 o’clock at night) or walking down the strip and having pornographic pamphlets shoved in my face for many of these childhood visits, it was all pretty fantastic (despite not being 21 years old).

But I wonder now that I will finally be turning that age where I can give the bars and slot machines a go, will I want to? What’s really so appealing about that 3.8 mile strip of Las Vegas Boulevard, really? In recent news, President Obama has received a great deal of heat for making exactly that claim, well at least according to Nevada leaders. In a speech made last year, he told his audience: “When times are tough, you tighten your belts. You don't go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices. It's time your government did the same." His point about Las Vegas is obvious: it’s an inappropriate place to spend money. And though he offended several Nevada leaders, he does have a point. I know this first hand.

After all, as the years went on, I learned that my parent’s visits to that brightly lit oasis in the desert had less to do with their assessment of a perfect vacation spot and a lot more to do with my father’s gambling addiction. My mom felt that perhaps if she could just get him to gamble in Vegas and only Vegas then maybe they could keep his addiction under control. But it’s not always true what they say – what happens there doesn’t always stay there. He would continue to gamble even when we returned to our home and play the ponies in Hollywood Park every chance he could get, straining his relationship with my mother and always putting his family in danger of financial catastrophe. For many years, gambling was all my Dad could think about and all he wanted to do, no matter what the consequences. And he was always so secretive about it all. Back then, when my mom would come home from work, she would always ask me where my dad was (though she knew the answer) and I would always say I didn’t know (though I did). Sometimes before my Dad would leave for the racetrack, he’d tell me to a pick a number and whatever number I picked he would bet on and that would be the winning horse. I would usually pick “5” because it was my favorite number and when he’d get home, he’d tell me that it won even when it didn’t. And there were more times when it didn’t.

So even though Obama is getting a lot of heat for his comments about Las Vegas, maybe he’s right. You just can’t put all your money into Vegas at a time like this. And you can’t do what my father did, you can’t take money from your children at a time like this. But also, when it comes down do it, I do love Las Vegas despite all that it may have taken from me. I could watch Rain Man or The Hangover any day just to remember what it means to be in Las Vegas. And I’ll always cherish those cheesy pictures of me sitting on a sphinx with a pharaoh at the Luxor or standing next to a cage of white tigers at The Mirage. But when I finally turn 21 and venture to what Norman Mailer calls that “jeweled city on the horizon,” I will keep Obama’s words in mind because I know those little flashing lights are more dangerous than they appear.

-Krystal A. Vazquez


Anonymous said...

As Alex Mead's Aunt and fan of good writing, I have to say I really enjoyed your entry, too. What a story! Keeping the good of the Vegas memories, and applying the wisdom of Obama's words, CAN go hand-in-hand, I believe. Good for you for recognizing the difference. Keep on writing. You'd love the magazine, The Sun, if you don't know about it already. Best to you, Parry Murray

February 7, 2010 at 2:42 PM  

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