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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Born and Bred in Binions

Day 5 - Friday - part 4

It was good to have a little downtime in the room, but I was a little nervous about dinner with a number of people I have never met.

When you are the author of a (soon to be) award winning blog (probably, someday) that has tens upon tens of followers like me, you get quite a few offers to meet for drinks, meals, or perhaps abandoned room service cart races in the hallways of the MGM Grand.

All of these are appreciated, but I rarely am able to take advantage of these opportunities, for one reason or another. For one thing, I am actually kinda shy, which you would not know perhaps. For example, I was chatting up a really hot-looking female bartender one night and she asked me what I did.

"What do you do?" she asked, stopping in front of my bartop machine with a toss of her long auburn hair, which was tied back in a pony tail.

"I'm a writer. I write about stuff I know about."

"I bet you know a lot about words."

"Sure I do," I said, with a wink. "For example, did you know that labium is the singular of labia, and labia is plural meaning more than one..."

When I regained consciousness, I made a mental note not to share those bon mots with just anyone. Events like these only compound my shy side.

Anyway, Brensan is a member in good standing (unlike me) of a number of Vegas oriented message boards that I frequent and I knew people that knew her that also knew me. I wasn't worried at all, other than wondering if I would say something incredibly stupid at dinner, or screw up and talk about Canadian politics or something.

I headed over to Binions about 20 minutes early, to just kind of get the feel of the place, Jay Bondrock style. I found the elevator to take up to Binions and piled on with a number of other folks. To my delight one of them was deathly afraid of heights, and I knew something she didn't know.

This was the glass walled elevator that goes up the side of the building.

Well, this woman freaked! She started grabbing at people and making animal sounds that got higher in pitch the higher we went. She actually had to keep her eyes closed and turn her back to the wall.

I didn't feel as smug after this, the poor thing was really suffering. I considered distracting her with some of my 'writing word facts' but as mentioned, this has rarely gone over well.

We made it to the top and everyone Dead Sea'd and let her out first.

I didn't see anyone that could be Brensan and family so I took the opportunity to stroll confidently through the restaurant like I owned the place, with the idea of taking some pictures, and also seeing if you could just stroll confidently through a restaurant saying things like, "Lookin' good... Nice ta see ya... How ya doin'?... Happy Birthday!... Lookin' Lucky there, sharkskin...." Well, you can.

SNOINIB means steakhouse!!!! Or maybe ESUOHKAETS.
It was that perfect time in the evening when there is still some light in the sky and the neon is on and your heart just sings because you are in Vegas and are getting treated to steak by people you don't know.

I really hoped I would have a better experience than the last time I was here, which was a disaster, chronicled in some of my earlier blog posts as the Binion's Ranch Butterknife Steakhouse. They actually ran out of steak knives. But that was years ago, and I had high hopes for a great experience.

So views. Yeah, pretty darn good.

To make it easy to find me, I sat down in one of the little chairs near the podium at the entrance, took out one of my limited edition degenerate/savvy business cards, held it where people could see it, and waited.

Well it only took a minute, and Brensan was there, coming from behind me.

"It's a great pleasure to meet you," I said, "Did you see the card?"

"Card? No... " She went on to make the introductions to her husband Mr. Brensan, and her son Brendon and his wife, Mrs Brendon.

"I held my card out so you would know it was me," I explained.

"But we've met before, at one of Blue Skadoo's infamous birthday party at Bellagio..." she said.

My face turned into a glowing red receptacle for my foot.

"Oh, yes, well - of COURSE we met - but not that recently and... I've lost 6 or 7 pounds since then, so I didn't think you'd recognize me."

Ugh. What a great start I was off to. We'd met, and I'd forgetten, but to my defense, I'd met 30 people that day.

But you know what?

These people made me feel completely at ease in about 3 minutes.

We got seated at a table, and yes it was difficult at first being literally the fifth wheel, and being someone who didn't know anyone, while all the other someones knew everyone intimately, except for me. But we got jawin' and the drinks flowed, and I felt, yeah, this is good, I'm among friends.

Our waiter, T-Bone Kelly, made his presence known by deftly sidling up to our table and bellowing, "Good evening, I'm T-Bone... I'll be your waiter. I'm a local, born and bred here in Las Vegas, and I've been here a while, so I know you're in for a great meal."

We ordered some drinks and wine and such and got menus and got to know one another some. Of course, the Vegas stories flowed and we shared some great ones. I relaxed into my Maker's Mark.

Brandon, seated to my left, was very forthcoming and asked me lots of questions. And he was a pretty interesting guy, too, and easy to talk to. Before long we found we had quite a bit of common ground in our background and interests. Who would have thought that you could throw some people together to find that there was an incredible commonality between strangers - one, on the one hand, had both a professional music career and a high-powered financial career, while the other, on the other hand, and the other made size 7 grommets?!

"Excuse me folks, you ready to order? If you have any questions, just ask, I was born and bred here and I've worked right here in Binions for over 38 years. So fire away."

Braydon wanted the surf and turf and Mrs. Braydon also wanted the surf and turf. They wanted it together and looked at each other and twinkled lovingly back and forth for a bit.

I forget what Brensan ordered and Mr. Brensan ordered a steak. I went for the bone in rib-eye.

"Bone in rib-eye... that sound good..."

"It is Braydon, believe me, it is," I said.

"It's a fine steak, one of the best Vegas steaks I like to say, since I'm a local," said T-Bone.

"But we're having surf and turf together...." said Mrs. Braydon.

"Well, can I have surf and turf with the rib-eye instead?" asked Brennan.

"You sure can sir."

"But I don't want a rib-eye," said Mrs. Brennan.

"Well, I'd like to try one... and we'll still be having surf and turf together."

"But it's not the same. Just have the rib-eye."

"Okay, I'll change to the rib-eye. Can I do that, T-Bone?"

"You sure can sir."

"But I want the surf too. Can I switch back to surf and turf, T-Bone?"

"You sure can sir."

"Okay, I'll have surf and turf. Whew!"

"Sure thing."

"Aw fuck it, give me the surf and rib-eye."

I was a tiny bit baffled and but mostly sweetly amused by these two, who were clearly deeply in love. But love is difficult when you have different steak choices involved!
Absolutely delicious, and I got my own steak knife.
We talked some more and some bottles of great wine arrived. Brandon had some questions about the Canadian health care system, so I talked everyone through that while eating dinner.

My bone-in rib-eye was the right thickness (which, for a rib-eye, is just a little thicker than you think it ought to be), and was done medium rare to perfection. And it was excellent. Everyone else seemed very happy with their dinners as well.

"What about Canadian separatism?" someone asked.

Oh boy.

"Well, let me tell ya," I said, "when times are good, as they are now, the Quebec independence movement loses a lot of steam. If you look back to the referendum..."

" wasn't that something!" said T-Bone, as he lifted my plate from the table, interrupting me,"Those Quebec separatists, why they'd want to leave Canada??? It's a problem, all those Quebec people up there..."

I looked at him, steely-eyed.

"My mother's from Quebec," I lied.

"Really?.... I'm from Vegas, born and bred and I could tell you some stories....why this one time... Steven Seagal used to work here as a bar back and lift kegs in his spare time to build his muscles. He came back and was shooting one of his movies here on Fremont, and of course, he recognized just two people, me of course, hey T-Bone, he said, I'll never forget you, you're from Vegas, and this other guy some bar guy, and Steven Seagal said, hey bar guy, I used to work for you, now I'm famous, and you're not, but I still remember when I worked for you. Can you believe it? Stephen Seagal, still remembered me and some other guy..."

It was a great meal and the Brensans took care of everything. I offered to leave the tip and they practically tackled me. I was their guest, and that was that.

After dinner we headed back downstairs. The Brensans wanted to see one of the light shows, and wouldn't you know it, it was exactly the top of the hour. We went outside and took in The Who. They'd got a room at the Nugget for the night, so we retired there. The ladies went off to play some slots and the three guys headed for the bar. We found three spots together, fired up the video poker, and got the bourbon going.

We spent a couple of hours talking, laughing, drinking, and sharing war stories. It was just great. I really felt a connection with Brently and just enjoyed getting to know him. Great guy.

Somewhere along the line I realized I'd been calling him by the wrong names all night long. The two bottles of wine and all the bourbons hadn't helped much. Oh well, I did my best.

It was time to head back to my cell at the Four Queens so I said so long to the guys.

You know, Vegas is pretty great, but this was one of the most enjoyable evening I have ever spent there. And it wasn't because of gambling, or winning, or paytables, or comps.

It's because of people, great people, who took me in for a little while when I was on my own (and feeling a bit lonely, frankly) and treated me like one of their own. They were friendly, gracious, generous, interesting, easy going, down to earth, and a shit-load of fun.

I texted Brensan afterwards and told her that this would probably be the best night of my trip, and looking back on it now, it was head and shoulders above everything else.

Thanks guys.

Back in my room, I realized I'd called Branson by about 8 different names. I sent him a text to apologize:  "Brandan, sorry I kept calling you Brandan!"

Brendan was kind enough not to correct me.

One of these days, I'll get it all right.

Day: +$165
Trip: -$2485


    1. I am a compulsive gambler and almost threw it all away getting caught up in what I thought made me happy. Spending all of your free time in a casino makes you feel a part of something when you have slight social anxiety: all the noise, the nearby party's, the lights. When you start using your paycheque as fuel to back to the familiar smell of a casino it's a problem! That being said I'm heading back to Vegas in December but in the meantime I haven't gambled in years because I started figuring out how to truly be happy. Eating right, keeping to a budget, calling at least one person a day just to talk, hiking outdoors, and finding a hobby seem to be the keys to happiness. I've been reading this extremely well written, humorous, and sometimes even suspenseful blog that you've really put a lot of effort into. Of all the entries I've read this is by far my favorite: Flusher reacquaints himself with what really makes people happy by nature! Keep up the great work and I'm sure this will lead you to many other fantastic social connections.

      -Another fellow (non-separatist lol) Canadian

    2. Thanks for your insightful comment. Hope things go well for you in December!


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