Well, my escape wasn’t quite perfect. Shortly before landing in Las Vegas, my traveling companion received a text saying one of our bags hadn’t made it onto the plane. Not surprisingly, the missing luggage turned out to be mine. My bag would arrive on a later plane (and be delivered to my hotel room at 3:30AM). More comedy than tragedy, I squeezed into my petite best friend’s extra small floral dress and wore it with my snake skin printed slides (airport worthy shoes) out to dinner.
Fortunately, I was delightfully distracted by my son, who had flown in from LA to see me. We had not seen each other in six months, so there was much to talk (and laugh) about besides my questionable dinner outfit. As a Jewish mother, it warmed my heart to watch Matt wolf down a rib eye steak and then polish off the remains of my filet mignon. In my sadder moments, I sometimes forget how much I miss him and his uncanny ability to make everyone laugh.
Neither my son nor I had ever been to Vegas, so it was quite entertaining to enter hotel casinos with seemingly endless stretches of slot machines, poker tables, roulette wheels and black jack tables spread out like football fields across acres of marble floors. We were NOT in Vegas to gamble, nor were we the least bit tempted to join the throngs of people pouring money into slot machines and filling the room with second hand smoke.
Our main inspiration for choosing Las Vegas was to see Lady Gaga in concert. Lady Gaga has long been on my bucket list of must-see performers. I love her music and her willingness to wear outrageous outfits to enhance her show. But most of all I admire her bravery and determination to succeed against all odds. Bullied and told she was too ugly to become a star, Lady Gaga persevered and worked hard to prove all of her detractors wrong.
As an autism mom whose daughter was bullied and kicked out of the Parkside School at eight, Lady Gaga warmed my heart. Her encouragement and kindness brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes—and this is one of them—everyone needs to be reminded to follow their dreams. While I don’t expect Samantha to become a rock star, I’m hoping she can play a significant role in more movies and TV shows. My daughter’s auditions for the past year have been good practice, and I’m confident her hard work will pay off. Success is the best role model to prove naysayers need to take a different attitude toward actors on the spectrum. Of course, we are also eager to see a follow up to Keep the Change.
I want to thank Lady Gaga for the inspiring mini-rock opera she performed. Descending from the ceiling and speaking to her avatar, Enigma, on screen behind her, Lady Gaga touched the entire audience at MGM, making sure to address and perform for those in bleacher seats, farthest away from the stage. In between songs, Lady Gaga offered anecdotes from her life and proclaimed her belief in kindness and inclusivity for all genders, races and sexual orientations. A young man named Mohamed from Pakistan was invited on stage for his 21st birthday. He had written Lady Gaga a letter saying it was his dream to meet her, and she made it come true for him. Hey, if his dream can come true, why not yours and mine?
Lady Gaga sang her heart out for two full hours and ended her concert with her popular song, “Born this Way.” It was a joyous celebration of all the different humans who live on this planet, and very uplifting for an autism mom!
Lady Gaga was the highlight of our trip, but my best friend and I also had a blast watching David Copperfield’s magic show and trying (in vain) to figure out how he accomplished his many amazing tricks. Like most women on a girls-only trip, we also went shopping and scored ridiculously cheap leather jackets, glittery shirts and footwear.
We also laughed non-stop about everything—my lost luggage, the eye-popping variety of tourists, the lapses in hotel service, etc. We even ate at a restaurant called “Best Friend” and had the waiter take our picture holding the menu. (Corny, but how could we resist?) Lounging in the desert heat by the pool and riding the monorail to different hotels, we covered a lot of ground in five days. We went to the MGM Grand, MGM Park, Bellagio, Caesar’s, The Venetian, and the Wynn, in addition to traveling between the 3 towers of the MGM Signature, where we had breathtaking night views from our balcony on the 27th floor. There was endless stimulation—and distraction—an aquarium with baby sharks and stingrays, a carousel made out of forever-roses, gondola rides, frescoes, a human statue who smiled when we asked to take a photo. Definitely, something for everyone and just what the doctor ordered for this exhausted autism mom.
I arrived back home in New York refreshed and ready to celebrate Father’s Day.