I hated Las Vegas.  My parents were constantly fighting, yelling, screaming, throwing.  She threw.  He ducked.  The swamp air conditioner banged and clanged.  And it was hot. A hundred and ten in the shade, according to my mother.  But though I hated the heat, and the fights, and just about
everything else, I loved the shows.  Every Saturday night, my father took us to the El Rancho or the Last Frontier. I saw Sophie Tucker, Joe E. Lewis, Eddie Cantor.  I memorized the jokes. Performed them in my bedroom closet when my parents were going at it.

When I was five, or six, we went to see Joey Adams at the El Rancho.  It must have been my birthday or something, because my mom had pinned a big pink taffeta bow in my hair, and flowers in hers.  About three jokes in, Adams noticed me. "Hello, sweetheart." 

My parents beamed.  When he asked me to join him on stage, the whole audience went "Aw!"  My father, who was usually devoid of personality, grinned so hard you could see the top of his false teeth. I skipped over to the steps, but the minute I was on stage, with the spotlight on me, I felt like running back to my parents and hiding under the table.  Joey Adams took the mike off the stand and knelt down.  

"Where are you from, sweetheart?"

"Las Vegas."  My voice sounded like it belonged to someone else.

He got up and looked at the audience. 

"Las Vegas?  I didn't know they allowed children in Las Vegas!"  Everybody laughed, including my parents, and I laughed. I didn't want anybody to think I was stupid.  We chatted.  He told a few jokes I'd heard before.  Then he asked what my father did.  My legs turned to butter. I didn't know what my father did. Nobody had ever told me. 

"It"s alright, sweetheart.."  I was sure every other kid in America knew what their father did.  I was afraid to look at my parents.  Joey Adams put the microphone back on the stand.  I was a failure.
He didn't want to talk to me any more.  Then I remembered something I'd heard my uncle Manny say on the phone.  I tugged at Joey Adams' arm. 

"He works on the book," I said, and there was a big pause.  

"Oh, you mean he's a bookie?"  

And I said, "Yes! That's it! He's a bookie."  

The audience roared. I roared. I looked at my parents. They weren't laughing.

When we got home, my mother made me write a-c-c-o-u-n-t-a-n-t twenty-five times.
6/23/2011 07:07:02 am

What a great story!!! I devoured Neon Dreams in no less than three days any chance I had to read between my 12 hour work shifts. I can't wait until you come out with a new book. In the meantime, I am so glad you are sharing your writing through this blog.

10/26/2011 08:22:22 am

Having just finished a blog on my own growing up in Las Vegas, I was thrilled to find yours. A much different experience than my own, but so Vegas. Thank you so mucg

8/23/2012 02:25:42 am

This is very effective way of writing a blog, I am really impressed from such type of comments, keep it continue in the future.


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