Notes from my journal / diary:

In March, 2013, on my way back from the Death Valley National park, I had to spend an evening in Las Vegas – to take the flight back to Houston the next morning.

Walking along the strip, realized I had to charge my cell, and stepped into one of those hotels/casinos and took a spot next to a karaoke stage, to charge my cell – and while it was getting charged, I amused myself watching a group of around 20 punch drunk men and women belting out songs from the 60s through the 90s onstage.

The effect was like that of an unintentionally hilarious slapstick re-enactment of a poor ‘cousin’ of the Divine Comedy, done in bits and pieces.

The singers they were trying to imitate (mercifully not emulate) could be broadly classified into two types: those such as Elvis, Johnny Cash et al who are not around anymore to get to know (by some remote off chance) of such Borat-like performances, and those such as Neil Diamond, Sir Paul McCartney et al who must consider themselves quite fortunate they were not within hearing distance – my patented guess is that upon hearing them, they would have likely become either instant recluses or joined some modern vampire slayers team.

One of these, an older woman, was so tipsy from alcohol, that she began to gesture as if she was about to take off her T-shirt onstage – much to everyone’s horror. I certainly didn’t bargain for this when I ventured into the casino to charge my cellphone.

I mean, we all have limits to our bravado, and I must confess that for all my pride in my bravery/valor, watching a 50 plus old woman weighing somewhere around 200 plus pounds, trying to sing like Donna Summers (bless her soul), and subjecting us to the prospect of getting a glimpse of a panoramic view of her midriff et al – was definitely beyond my limits of valor as well as imagination – I swear I was perspiring and it was not from the temperature outside!

But the alcohol probably short-circuited her memory as well as intention, and she forgot about it – much to everyone’s (at least my) relief! Anyway that’s a side story.

Sitting next to me was this 20s something dude looking a bit like the Merchant of Venice who is trying to recover from the shock of hearing the news that a ship of his, has just sunk in the ocean.

I idly said/asked ‘hi, been a long hard day, huh?’

He (vaguely sounding like one of those extras in the spaghetti westerns, who just got his eggs scrambled by ‘a man with no name’) : ‘‘oh no – I lost $1600 today’

I – ‘did you get mugged or something? Am sorry to hear that’

He ‘No – I went to this Men’s club and they promised me lots and I just kept doling out money and in the end, I was so drunk I didn’t realize how much I was giving out – only after an hour or so, did I realize my wallet and pocket were empty’

Ah! what a tragedy !

As he looked at me with those forlorn eyes, the Merchant of Venice vanished to be replaced by the vivid image of ‘a wag the tail’ dog that has been denied its favorite bone piece.

The guy looked so miserable having lost a significant amount of money – $1600 is one thing – and more than that his self-esteem & pride!

My cell charged by now, I bid adieu to the kid who was slumped down in his seat, half staring at his fingers and half staring at the karaoke singers, talking to himself.

And just about then, the 50 plus old woman, mentioned earlier was back onstage, trying to croon like Shirley Bassey, but actually sounding more like a she-Rush Limbaugh on steroids.

Time to boogie! and I made good my escape.