Las Vegas Friends

I’m 715-feet in the air, looking over the side of my powerchair, with an unobstructed view from my rear tire, to the teeny-tiny swimming pool and dots of lounge chairs that are 55-stories below me – this is as close as it gets to skydiving in a powerchair.

I’m at the Ghost Bar, atop the Palms casino in Las Vegas, parked in my powerchair on a glass block about the size of a kitchen table. The glass is imbedded in a balcony floor, providing a crystal-clear view from the top of the Palms, to the ground below, a view that one might only briefly retain if they were plummeting toward Earth. Few at this mobility industry gathering thought that I’d have the guts to drive onto the glass, but I had two bits of information that I reckoned would prevent me and my powerchair from meeting our maker on the concrete pool deck below: Firstly, I once saw three drunken pseudo-celebrities jumping up and down on this very glass block on MTV’s “The Real World, Las Vegas”; and, secondly, no business would ever have such an attention-grabber unless it was foolproof, so I was confident that the window over the world could retain my weight.

Despite my confidence, anything is possible, and what if something went horribly wrong during the engineering and installation of the glass block, and the weight of me and my powerchair was the so-called straw to break the camel’s back, sending me into a catastrophic freefall over Lass Vegas? Fortunately, in either case, I couldn’t lose – if I lived, I would be respected for having the guts to roll onto the glass, or if something went wrong, I would have among the coolest death stories in the history of mankind, having fallen 55-stories in a powerchair. With such a win-win situation, I had to take the dare, and roll out onto the glass block.

So, here I am, parked on a glass block, high above the Earth, surrounded by a crowd that’s seemingly impressed by this non-impressive feat. Indeed, I’m not falling to my death, which may be just the sign I need that my luck at the black jack tables is about to change for the better.

“Come on, Dave,” I say to my colleague, “let’s go down to the casino, and play some cards.”

I’ve just won forty bucks in half an hour playing black jack, so now I’m saving my winnings, drinking a casino-courtesy Coke, and watching Dave drop quarters into a slot machine. An attractive, twenty-something woman just sat on a slot machine stool next to me.

“How’re you guys tonight?” she asks.

“Fine, winning here and there. How are you?” I ask, making idle conversation.

“Good,” she says. “So what are you guys doing tonight?”

“Hanging out,” I say, watching Dave fight to get his quarter back from the now-jammed slot machine. “What are you doing tonight?”

“Just looking to make new friends,” she says, winking at me.

Now, I’m not the most naive guy you’ll ever meet, but this has never happened to me. I just realized that I’m being solicited by a prostitute, and now I’m clueless how to handle this situation that I’ve innocently talked my way into.

“We’re both happily-married men,” I say, holding up my left hand, showing my wedding ring like garlic to a vampire.

“So you’re not into this?” she politely says.

“Actually, I’m more inclined than he is,” I quickly say, pointing at Dave, whom just pushed the button to call for an attendant to get his quarter back.

Oh no – did I really just say that? Did I really just say that I’m more inclined than Dave toward prostitution? If there’s ever been a statement that’s come out entirely wrong, it’s the one I just said.

Dave looks at the woman and says, “What did he just say?”

“He said that he’s into it, but you’re not,” she says with a smile, as if in entrapping me with my entangled, misinterpreted words.

Dave looks at me like I’ve lost my mind, and I’m hoping that casino attendant shows up quick, giving Dave his quarter and diffusing this whole situation.

“No, that’s not what I meant,” I say, somewhat panicked that now I’ve inadvertently solicited the woman in return. “What I meant was, Dave’s very religious, and while I’m not personally into your thing, I’m not against it. Well, I am against it, but not against it, if you know what I mean.”

She’s looking at me like I’m speaking Japanese to an Englishman, and I might as well be – this whole solicitation dialog is way out of my range of experience, and I don’t know what I’m saying. Where’s that damn casino attendant?

“Look, we’re not into it,” I say, figuring I have to put an end to this conversation. “We’re both happily married, and not into any of this.”

Finally, the casino attendant arrives, using her key to open the machine to get Dave’s quarter.

“OK,” the soliciting woman she says, standing up. “Good luck, guys.”

With the prostitute gone, and Dave’s quarter returned, Dave and I decide that we should head back to the party, and walk toward the elevator.

“Did I just sound like a complete idiot?” I ask.

“Considering that was your first solicitation by a hooker, I thought you were pretty cool,” Dave says.

“I guess so,” I say. “And, at least we’ve learned that prostitutes don’t discriminate based on disability – the ADA is really starting to pay off for me.”


Author: Mark E. Smith

The literary side of the WheelchairJunkie

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