Today I am going to once again take you back to the old days, and tell a story from one of my earliest Vegas trips, many years longer ago than I care to admit. My previous “blast from the past” can be found here.
Like that story, this one takes place long before I was playing poker in Vegas, and long before I started making regular solo trips. My partner-in-crime then, as usual, was my buddy Norm. We’d usually head up to Vegas three times a year.
The drive took about 4 hours, give or take. We did several things to amuse ourselves on the drive up. Often, the one of us not driving would try to catch a nap (we couldn’t wait to get to Vegas and thus would hit the road at an early hour). Another activity was that the person not driving would read from a joke book. Remember, this was before Al Gore had invented the internet. So they actually published paperback books filled with jokes (maybe they still do?). For reasons unclear to me, the ones we always choose for our trips had titles like, “The World’s Dirtiest Jokes, Vol. VII” or “Totally Gross Jokes, Vol.IV.” I dunno, I guess this type of humor just got is in the right mood for visiting a city dedicated to every bad habit imaginable.
The jokes were mostly lame, and always quite repetitive We’d see the same jokes, with slight variations, from one book to the next. Never-the-less, the book would keep us amused for an hour or so. And often, we’d find one or two jokes that were really good, and might actually give us a punch line that we would use as a catch phrase for the trip (and often, long after).
So I’ve just decided to give you a few samples from my rapidly failing memory.
Little Johnny was very rude in school and when it was time for milk and cookies, he refused to line up for them. The teacher asked what’s wrong, didn’t he want a snack? And Johnny said to his teacher, “F*** you and your milk and cookies.” The teacher didn’t know what to do so she ignored it.
But the next day the same thing happened. Johnny didn’t line up for his snack and when the teacher asked why, he said, “F*** you and your milk and cookies.”
The teacher knew she had to get Johnny’s mother involved so the next day she invited the mother to school and had her hide in the closet. Sure enough, at snack time, Johnny wouldn’t get in line and when the teacher asked him what was wrong, he said, “F*** you and your milk and cookies.”
The teacher then opened the closet door and asked Johnny’s mother what she thought about her little boy’s vulgar language. And the mother replied, “Well, f*** him, don’t give him any.”
This amused Norm and I no end. Although it wasn’t actually the punch line, for the rest of the trip, one of us would be saying “F*** you and your milk and cookies” quite often. It was such a wonderful phrase. So if we were looking for a cheap game to play in a particular casino, and couldn’t find one to our liking, when we decided to give up and leave, one of us would say, “Well, f*** them and their milk and cookies.” The catch-phrase lasted long beyond that trip. After any slight, real or imagined, one of us would say, “F*** you and your milk and cookies.” Or, we might say, if we didn’t like the way were being treated at a particular place and decided to leave, “It’s milk and cookies time.”
A housewife asked her husband for some money to buy a new dress and he refused, saying money was very tight. A few weeks later she bought the dress she had been eying and modeled it for her husband. All he cared about was how she had gotten the money for the dress.
The wife was reluctant to tell him, but finally said nervously, “Well, in order to make some money, I’ve become a prostitute.” The husband was not as upset as she would have expected. He asked her how much money she had made. “Well, I just started and so far, I’ve made $150.25.”
The husband said, “twenty-five cents? Who gave you the quarter?”
She replied, “They all did.”
Yeah, we worked that one into our conversation a lot. To this day, if there’s a quarter lying around, one of us will say, “Who gave you the quarter?” and the other one will say, “They all did.”
Of course, those jokes have nothing to do with today’s story. In addition to snoozing and reading jokes, another activity of ours on the way up was listening to the radio. We discovered a radio station that existed for the sole purpose of providing “entertainment” for people driving the I-15 to and from Vegas. It’s still around and calls itself “The Highway Station.” The best thing about the station is, and was, that they had traffic and weather reports every half hour. They also played commercials from Vegas hotels about food, hotel and show deals that were of interest to us. And even if they weren’t, they helped get us in the mood for Vegas. The problem with the station was that, in between the traffic reports and the commercials, they played the worst music imaginable. And they still do.
As we got closer to Vegas, we could pick up the Vegas stations. The first one we could get was always KDWN, 720 AM. It had a very strong signal. In fact, often when I’m driving around L.A. at night, I can pick it up. Then, as now, it was a talk station. Back then, it was all local hosts and there would be a lot of Vegas information disseminated that was often of interest to us. And like the highway station, there would be commercials for stuff to do in Vegas.
But perhaps our main interest would be to get a weather forecast, preferably a long range one if possible. Remember there was no internet back then, and thus, no such thing as Weather.com to let us know what conditions would be like while we were there. The L.A. Times would have a nationwide weather page that would give a teeny, tiny bit of info on the weather in major cities around the country, and that would be all had to go by as we headed up there. Unless there was a major catastrophic weather event going on there that made national news, we were pretty much on our own.
Norm and I would usually go there around April (when both our birthdays were), in the middle of summer and then for Christmas. Of course in summer it was obscenely hot, and at Christmas it was usually quite cold (cold for us L.A. guys, as the winters in Vegas are always colder than they are in L.A.). April was usually the best weather—winter was over and the brutal heat hadn’t arrived.
Neither Norm and I like rain. We prefer dry conditions when we are in Vegas. Aside from the obvious, the Vegas sewer system is actually worse than the one in L.A. Both cities were built with the assumption that it never rains. It may not rain much, but rain it does and the system is inadequate to keep the streets from flooding if there’s anything more than a drizzle. In L.A., the streets are flooded after about 30 minutes of steady rain. In Vegas it takes less than 10 minutes.
Vegas is a desert and it supposedly never rains, right? But early in our regular Vegas trips, we discovered that it seemingly always rained when we were there. Not always a lot, maybe sometimes just a little bit, but almost always. On the rare occasions we’d make it through a visit without rain, there would at least have been a chance of rain in the forecast. Remember, Vegas is the desert so rain is rare. I would insist to anyone who would listen that all of the yearly rainfall in Vegas occurred during my visits.
One of the things we discovered though was that, unlike in L.A., it was very possible—even likely—for rain to hit Vegas during the summer. July and August is monsoon season and heavy downpours, high winds and thunderstorms come out of nowhere. Norm and I discovered this during one of our first summer trips. We were driving on Paradise during a downpour and actually had to make a U-turn to avoid getting stuck in a flooded intersection (pretty sure it was the intersection at Flamingo if anyone cares). It was strange. Despite having three times the average rainfall as Vegas, it simply doesn’t rain in L.A. during the summer, pretty much ever. The Dodgers have been in L.A. since 1959 and have had something like 17 home rainouts.
Anyway, I’m pretty sure that this particular trip was actual an April trip, the most likely time for agreeable weather. Although sometimes a late winter-like storm would come through. But of course, since it was us, rain was always a possibility. So as soon as we could pick it up, we put KDWN on to hear what was going on in Vegas and also catch a weather forecast. The weather had been fine when we left L.A. and as we traversed the I-15 it was sunny and cloudless and pretty much ideal. So we tuned into the mid-morning guy on KDWN to try get a forecast for the rest of the time we’d be in town. Pretty sure we had heard this guy before as we had actually gotten to know some of the hosts due to our many trips.
So after talking about whatever the hell he was talking about, it was time for him to do the weather. In those days, the host did the weather report, it wasn’t the news person. So the guy starts reading the weather forecast for the day right off the wires, as they say, and he reads that there is a chance for an afternoon shower. As he’s reading it, he starts to express disbelief, and then, as he finishes it, he starts doubting the forecast he had just read.
I dunno what the percentage chance of rain was, let’s just say it was 20% (probably was something like that). So the guy says, “Rain? It says there’s a chance of rain today? Are they kidding? Look at it out. There’s not a cloud in the sky. It’s beautiful out there. This must be a joke. No way is it gonna rain today.” For the rest of the time we were listening, he would occasionally go back and mention that the forecast said there was a chance of rain and that he didn’t believe it. Note: this guy was certainly not a meteorologist; he was some guy who had some personality and was hired to talk about how bad a job the President, the Governor, and the Mayor were doing.
At the appropriate times, he would read the official forecast and then every time he came to the part where he said there was a chance of rain, he’d read it and then dispute it. He’d say something like…”well, it says here there’s a chance of rain today, but come on, there’s no way it’s raining today, you can ignore that.”
But the best part was one time he did a time-check. They don’t do that very often anymore because everyone has a watch and a fitbit and a smart phone to tell them the time. But back then, the host would report the time every 10 minutes or so. And since it was just a Vegas show, he didn’t have to say, “15 minutes past the hour.” No, he would say, “It’s 8:06 in the Vegas valley.” They would often do the time check as a bridge from one topic to another, so you would know that he was changing the subject. He’d finishing ripping on the Mayor, tell you what time it was, and then start ripping on the Governor.
And so, Norm and I were listening this particular morning, having heard the guy already dispute the official weather forecast several times, when he did another time check. We were already amused with the fact that the guy kept arguing with the forecast. And we heard him say, “And the time in Las Vegas—where it’s not going to rain today—is 9:47.”
Norm and I looked at each other and just cracked up. He found a new way to argue with the weather forecast, totally gratuitously! It was really funny the way he disputed the forecast as an aside.
We kept referring back to that the entire trip, and from then on, as we were driving up, we would say, as we were tuning in KDWN, “Let’s see if the guy who argues with the weather forecasts is on today.”