So after a whirlwind afternoon and evening in Las Vegas, full of entertainment, good food and a big self-esteem lift for the Supermodel, what’s next? According to the Supermodel her bad self … hash browns.
No joke. After two days of exotic meals interspersed with snack foods, what she wanted most was a hearty breakfast before we headed off to a church service, and from thence back home. Okay, works for me … and thankfully there was a Coco’s restaurant just up the block from the Motel 6. I enjoyed an orange juice while she plowed through a big plate of scrambled eggs, sausages, fried potatoes and sourdough toast with jelly. (Okay, I helped her a little with the potatoes and toast. What are husbands for?)
Little did we know that breakfast was going to be the highlight of the trip back.
We headed straight from Coco’s to a congregation we’d found in the Yellow Pages — Spring Valley Assembly of God. Spring Valley, we discovered, is an upper-middle-class section of Las Vegas, with lots of big walls around the houses. We were three blocks into the development before we saw our first front door. Very closed, very self-protective.
And unfortunately, so was the congregation. We arrived at 7:45 for the 8:30 service, so we stayed in our car until about 8:20. We were parked in a “handicapped” space, right near the entrance to the sanctuary, so people were walking right by us the entire time we sat and waited — but no one stopped to ask who we were or why we were there, or even to say hi. Even when we went inside — near the end of a deafening practice by the worship team — no one spoke to us except the senior pastor. (And he didn’t speak much. He first talked to me, but when I signaled that I couldn’t hear him over the music, instead of raising his voice he just ignored me and turned to the Supermodel. He asked her who we were, she gave him about a two-paragraph response, and he absented himself as quickly as he could.) There was no other acknowledgment by the people there that we existed, not even the most basic handshake-at-the-door.
The 8:30 service started at 8:35, and the music was, if anything, even louder. There were 18 people on stage or in the sound booth, and (counting us) 14 in the congregation at that point. Five minutes later, that number dropped by two as we left. At that point, there were two “greeters” in the foyer of the sanctuary (two more than there had been when we came in), but neither of them interrupted their conversation to recognize us as we headed out.
But I did happen to notice a copy of the church bulletin as we departed. In what I can only describe as ironic, the cover of the bulletin that day read, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And yet, when two fish fell into their boat, they ignored them until the fish flopped back into the ocean again. How can they expect to reach the gamblers and debauchers of Las Vegas when they refuse to interact with well-dressed strangers who show up on their doorstep. No surprise, then, that their early Sunday service had more people on stage than in the audience. It was especially rough for the Supermodel, who isn’t used to that kind of treatment by fellow believers. For me, alas, it’s old news. (See Congregational Journey Visit #1 for a similar experience.)
The depressing experience sort of set the tone for the rest of the day, as we headed straight from Spring Valley A/G to I-15. Lowlights of the trip included:
- Running into the rain we’d escaped on Friday the second we hit the Tehachapi Mountains heading back into the San Joaquin Valley.
- A pay phone with sticky buttons in Boron (where we stopped for gas), keeping us from calling home.
- A seriously lunatic driver trying to run us off the road in Fresno — apparently we offended him by going 65 in a 65 zone while he was steaming up behind us doing 80. (We got his license number, though.)
- A massive shower/hailstorm as we passed through Modesto, reducing visibility to about 50 feet and leading to some serious white-knuckled driving by yours truly.
But on the bright side, we had no car trouble, were able to pass by Baker with only a wave, and after dealing with being shunned by our brothers and sisters in Christ in the morning, Mr. Road Rage didn’t bother us so much. So the glass was half-full.
After 1000 miles of driving over three days, we arrived home at 5 p.m. Sunday to vague interest from our kids (in their defense, they were watching a movie at the time) and a dinner of pork roast and potatoes from my mom (who remarked on how well-behaved the kids had been). They enjoyed the souvenirs we brought back — Route 66 T-shirts for the kids, a mini personalized Nevada license plate for our son, a pair of fuzzy Las Vegas dice for our daughter, and a CSI Las Vegas badge with “#1 GRANDMA” on the nameplate for Mom (she’s a big fan of the “CSI” shows). And then Mom headed home, we settled the kids down for the night, then collapsed ourselves and slept the sleep of the comatose.
All in all, it was a good tenth anniversary. But it was also good to be back home in our own bed, with hot water, phone service, reasonable driving distances … and the only showgirl I’m interested in. Happy Anniversary, Supermodel — let’s do it again in another ten years!
(But yes, we’re definitely buying plane tickets for that one!)