●Don’t drive yourself crazy. Okay, we did, but it could have been worse.
Before we got on the plane, we’d already done much of the heavy lifting. We’d procured and packed the mandatory T-shirts and tchotchkes for goodie bags (e.g., personalized mint tins, chocolate gambling chips, over-the-hill rubber duckies and all manner of useless dust collectors that folks probably regretted lugging home). We mailed out itineraries, Vegas maps and info sheets to all the guests. We made so many lists — booze, food, budget, pub crawl route, etc. — that we had a list to list them all.
On the ground in Vegas, we made grocery and liquor store runs, picked up the cake we’d ordered from a Henderson bakery, hit the party store for paper goods, double-checked that Maggiano’s had our catering order for the Sunday party and unpacked the cascading drink fountain we’d lugged from Jersey to make sure that it hadn’t cracked in transport. It hadn’t.
Somewhere in between, we found time to append “VS ’13: Stay Hydrated!” labels to three dozen bottles of water. (You really can buy anything on the Internet.)
If it sounds like a lot of work, it was. But when else will we ever get to spend an hour inside a Vegas Party City? Bottom line: We wouldn’t have done a thing any differently.
●Get plenty of sleep. We’ll do that in May 2063 during the Vegas Tricentennial.
Fortunately, Elvis didn’t take the party with him. There was 1963 trivia (if you didn’t know it already, the L.A. Dodgers won the World Series that year), a slew of sloe gin fizzes (another blast from ’63) and a film produced by Jenni, a friend from Arlington who somehow turned dozens of embarrassing baby, bathing-suit and bad-mustache photos into a tear-inducing pastiche of our lives together.
After four days of commingling, chatter had turned from “What do you do for a living?” and “Where are you staying?” to “How did we get home last night?” and “When can I come visit you?” Stargazers regaled the crowd with their exploits at the red carpet for the Billboard Music Awards, being held across the street at the MGM Grand. My nephew, Chris, and his friend Jared discovered how potent whiskey sours are, particularly when chased with gin-and-tonics. And everyone tried to come up with a quip that Michael Jackson, a friend of Dan’s with a most recognizable name, hadn’t heard before.
We failed miserably.
The last guests left only when we left with them. Ten of us bounded out of the Vdara for 3 a.m. cocktails at the Cosmopolitan, the posher-than-you resort next door. Janet was wearing a flashing cowboy hat (thanks, Kathy!), and Dan’s head was covered in a felt birthday cake (that Kathy . . . ). Andrea, a former co-worker whom I still e-mail too many times every day, stuck close to the Gloved One, who’d spent part of the afternoon with her at the red carpet. Chris zombied his way along the sidewalk, while Jared kept a lazy pace with my niece, Jessica, and her boyfriend, Tim.
Fifty years goes by in a flash — you know that if you’ve hit the milestone. But if you’re lucky enough to assemble the remnants of your past, magic can happen. As we wrapped our arms around one another and crept toward a Las Vegas dawn, time suddenly stopped and reminded us how wonderful life can be when you’re surrounded by the ones you love.
Deiner, a former deputy editor of the Travel section, is already plotting his next trip to Sin City.