We're Going to Sin City

March 12, 2024 at 7:53 p.m.

...by Diana Couture

Back in the day of our print publication, limited page space meant that Diana Couture's 4-part series was published during a span of four months. Today we bring you Rose and Dawn's Las Vegas adventure all at once for you reading pleasure.

Rose dialed the phone and waited for an answer on the other end of the line. Finally, her best friend picked up the receiver.

Winded and breathy, Dawn answered, “Hi Rose. I was in the laundry room. Guess what I was doing?” “Well, Dawn, the obvious answer would be…uhm…laundry.”

“Ha! I tricked you. I’m stacking my canned goods from my latest shopping trip.” Rose smiled in her kitchen. The two 80+ year-old girlfriends had played this ‘Guess what I’m doing game’ for as long as Rose could remember. It was such a silly thing, but it always made them laugh—like they were doing right now.
While the girls were laughing, Rose told Dawn that she had a ‘radical’ idea.

“Radical? Really?” asked Dawn.

“Yup. I think we should go to Las Vegas to visit my niece. It’s nice and warm in the desert this time of year.”

Dawn countered, “What in the world made you want to do something so crazy, Rose?”

“Well, that’s just it, Dawnie. We never do anything crazy, and I was talking to my niece today and she was going on and on about the weather and one thing led to another and before I knew it, I had committed to a visit. Pronto.”
“Uhm, by pronto, what exactly do you mean?” Dawn guardedly questioned. “Weeeellll,” Rose began and quickly spit out.

“I sort of told her we’d be there next week for her wedding shower. She’s getting married after being a widow for 20 years. Isn’t that wonderful, Dawnie? Don’t you think we really should go? Uhm…it’s like we have to do this.”

Dawn listened with guarded optimism. “You can’t expect me to get packed and ready to go at the drop of a hat, Rose. I need time to plan and savor the experience.”

“Ok, honey. You have exactly five days to pack and savor, so you’d better get started.”

Five days went by in the blink of an eye. Before they knew it the girls were standing at the Alaska Airlines counter with their luggage and some numbers that Dawn’s daughter had written down for them and promised them that these numbers were all they needed to get their boarding passes.

“They’re never going to let us on the plane with just these codes. We need real tickets. How will they know we actually paid? Can their computers know all of that just from a series of six numbers?” Dawn asked incredulously. Rose nodded her head in agreement. Just then a very nice Alaska Airlines employee stepped up to the women in the luggage line and asked if they had checked in at the kiosk prior to getting into the checked luggage line.

Rose looked at the lady like she was from Mars. “What’s a kiosk?” she finally asked. Smiling, the Alaska employee gently led Rose and Dawn to the check-in kiosk. “Do you have your confirmation codes?”

“Why, yes we do,” Dawn proudly announced. “My daughter went on the computer and bought our tickets. She paid for them and then they gave us these numbers. Really. We DID pay for them.”

The numbers were typed in and magically some boarding passes printed out. The girls flushed with excitement and headed for the gate. Walking slowly they were amazed at how the airport had changed in the few years since they had traveled by air. There were restaurants—really nice, sit-down type of eaterys and lots of posh stores. “Geesh,” Rose commented. “It’s almost like walking at the mall. The only difference is that instead of going to the parking lot to get home we have to get on a plane and fly miles above Mother Earth to get to where we’re going.”

“Rose! You make it sound like we’re headed for heaven. I think Las Vegas is known as ‘Sin City’ so we’re likely headed the other way.”

A good laugh helped the girls while they struggled the last few yards to the gate. It really was a long walk from the front of the airport to the departure gate.

The announcer began the loading process and asked for any passengers ‘needing a little extra help in the boarding process.’ “That’s us, Dawnie. Let’s look pathetic and limp more than usual so we can get sympathy and overhead luggage space.


Rose and Dawn let out a collective sigh of relief as the plane touched down in Las Vegas. The ride had been quite nice and smooth, but oh, those take-offs and landings. Our octogenarians composed themselves as the plane taxied to the gate and said a heartfelt goodbye to all of the people in their area that had become friends during the flight.

It was a long walk to the baggage carrousel. Rose looked at her good friend Dawn who was limping a little, and asked, “Why didn’t we arrange for wheel chairs or one of those golf cart things that they have at airports? I mean, really, don’t we deserve one of those? Between us we have at least two knee surgeries, one back surgery and two hip procedures."

Dawn laughed…a little and replied, “Are you kidding? We’re not THAT old, Rose. And besides, I want to see if I can do this on my own.” Rose still didn’t agree and spotted some chairs at an empty gate and suggested they sit down to discuss this.

“Nice try, Rose. You’re just trying to get me to give in to my achy knees and hurting back and take a rest. Well, I say…uhm, well…OK. Let’s have a little rest.”

While they were catching their breath and rubbing their knees, a kind-looking airline employee came by on one of those golf cart thingys and offered the ladies a ride. Dawn was hesitant to give up her quest, but Rose hopped on with the agility of a 40-year-old. “Come on, Dawnie. This is great. And we’ll get to the baggage place so much faster. Maybe even before our baggage actually gets there.”

Dawn nodded and allowed herself to be chauffeured through the Las Vegas airport. Oh yes, this was a much better idea, she demurred, as they rode in comfort through the plodding passengers.

Rose’s niece, Christie, met the girls at the baggage claim and hugged them both with abandon. She was so happy to see her auntie and best friend.
“Thanks so much for coming, Aunt Rose and Aunt Dawn. This means so much to me. Gerry and I have some special time planned for you two and the wedding shower is in three days. Are you two up for a few days of wild fun?” Christie said laughingly.
Rose giggled uncomfortably and Dawn smiled weakly. “Honey, what we’d really like right now is a place to put our aching feet up and a cup of tea. The wildness will have to wait.”
All three had a smile on their faces as they collected the bags and headed for the waiting car driven by the future groom. Christie’s home was comfortable, well-appointed and only 10 minutes from the Las Vegas strip and the heart of the city. Christie got the women situated in the living room and delivered the tea on a silver tray.
“Oh honey, I remember that tray was your mom’s,” Rose sniffed as she recalled her dear sister, Louise.
Christie smiled while pouring the tea. “I think about her every day, Aunt Rose. And she’s been gone over 20 years. I wonder if that’s normal?”

Dawn chimed in on this one. “Oh, it’s normal, all right. I think of my mother on a daily basis, too, and she’s been passed since the 1970s. A smell, a tilt of one of my grandchildren’s heads or a song on the radio—all of these things can send me into a frenzy of memories. I miss her so much.” All of the women in the room had to wipe a tear from their eyes.

Christie finally broke the silence with a suggestion that her Aunties take a well-deserved nap while she and Gerry made dinner plans. She would wake the girls for cocktails at 5pm sharp.
“Wow Rose,” Dawn crooned as the girls walked the hallway to the guest bedrooms. “Do we need to dress for cocktails? I mean do I have to wear a cocktail dress?” Rose snorted and asked Dawn if she even owned a cocktail dress.
“No honey, I think this is pretty casual down here. Here in ‘sin city’ you can get away with wearing almost anything. Or, based on some of the fancy show girls we saw standing outside of the casinos while driving through town…almost NOTHING."


Oh, what a great time our heroines were having in Las Vegas with Rose’s niece Christie and her fiancé Gerry. Dinner out every night, hot tub with glasses of champagne in the afternoon and naps…oh yes, naps every day.

The day of the wedding shower arrived, and the house was in a flurry of activity. Christie’s best friend, Danita, was throwing this shower and was making sure of last-minute arrangements. The women were dressed casually even though a wedding shower in their estimation should require an afternoon dress.

When the guests started to arrive, the men came in with the women, presumably to drop them off for the ‘girls only event’ but Dawn noticed that the guys didn’t seem to be leaving.

 “Ahem, Rose,” Dawn whispered as the women peeked into the living room. “The men aren’t leaving.”

Rose checked the living room and agreed that there seemed to be just too much male presence. They both went to the kitchen to consult with the party planner and hostess on this apparent mistake.

Christie and Danita were busy putting the last of the hors d’oeuvres on presentation plates. They glanced up to see the octogenarians standing there looking confused.
What’s up, Auntie?” Christie questioned Rose. “Are you OK?
“Well, honey,” Rose began. “We’re a little concerned that the gentlemen aren’t…well, ah… leaving. I even saw Gerry giving a beer to one of the guys. It’s almost like they think they were invited too.”
Christie and Danita smiled at each other. “Oh, Auntie, I guess I forgot to mention that the men ARE invited. This is a co-ed shower. Gerry and I really are too old to be having a real wedding shower and we don’t need anything to set up our home, so we’re just having a bash for our friends, disguised as a wedding shower.”

The girls bristled at this announcement. “Well, I’ve never heard of such a thing,” Rose scolded. “Showers were the exclusive domain of the women-folk in our day. And now you’re telling me that men will be playing the games, giggling about the wedding night and sipping tea?” Dawn nodded her agreement in support of Rose’s query.

“Aunties, I hate to put it this way but, ‘the times they are a changin,’ ” Christie smilingly announced. “These days, the guys are as involved in the wedding preparations as the gals. Why, Gerry even picked out the flowers for our little celebration next month.”

Rose and Dawn gasped audibly at the same time. It’s as if they had both been slapped across the face with the same wet noodle. “What?” they exclaimed together. They looked a little shaken so Christie suggested they have a seat at the kitchen bar where she and Danita were working.
“I guess I didn’t even think about telling you this new arrangement.” Christie looked at the confused little aunties as they faced the last bastion of woman-controlled family life and watched it fade away. “I should have been more sensitive to how this might appear to you,” Christie said as she patted her Aunt Rose’s hand.

“Well now,” Rose quipped as she shook off the shocking announcement. “We’re not the old fuddy-duddy’s that you might think we are. We might not be able to ‘turn on a dime’ exactly, but we can adapt and change and even…dare I say it…embrace change.” Not wanting to be left behind in the whirl of change, Dawn nodded her agreement and the three women smiled at each other.
At this point Dawn raised a shaky finger and pointed to the living room. “Girls, we have some entertaining to do. Let’s get this party started!” There were hugs all around the kitchen and the four women carried the serving platters to their guests.

“Psst, Rose,” Dawn whispered as they walked back to the kitchen for another load. “No one’s going to be giggling and playing games at this party, are they?”
Rose said, “Sadly, no. It’s the changing of the guard.”


We find our octogenarian heroines basking in the warmth of the Las Vegas sun and relaxing in the courtyard of the home of Rose’s niece, Christie. The girls had been taking it easy since the wedding shower, which was a rousing success.

Rose looked at Dawn with her eyes half closed in sunshine heaven. “Ahh. This is the life, Dawnie. Do we really have to go back to the drizzle and grey of the Seattle skies tomorrow?”
Dawn glanced away from her book and gave Rose a look of reality. “Well, if we don’t go home soon, neither of us will fit into the airplane seats. Mmmmm, those hotel buffets…oh, those buffets.” She fluttered her eyes as she remembered the tasty morsels at the Bellagio Hotel buffet.

The laughs came easily to both women. They were content and happy and well taken care of by Rose’s niece and, of course, well fed.
Just then Christie came into the courtyard with the day’s agenda for fun and games. “Hello Auntie and honorary Auntie, here I have the plans for the best final day in Las Vegas EVER,” Christie said with a big smile on her pretty face.

Dawn and Rose immediately focused all their attention on the diminutive woman. “We are your ‘prisoners.’ Take us wherever you’d like, and we’ll enjoy it,” Rose chimed in.
“OK Auntie, I’ll remind you of that when we’re walking around the Neon Sign Museum after dark and you’re complaining that your legs are tired.”
“I’ll rally and keep going…like the energizer bunny,” Rose stubbornly offered.

That evening, during cocktails in the Cleopatra Lounge at Caesar’s Palace, the girls were mesmerized by the opulence of the hotel and casino and the ‘people watching’ was the best in Vegas.
Being frugal with their money, not only because they lived on fixed incomes and didn’t have much money, but also because they were both from hard times, the girls didn’t do much gambling. Well, this evening Christie suggested they “throw caution to the wind” and sitting down at a real Blackjack table with $50… "just to see what happens.”
Rose and Dawn were horrified at the steep cost of this adventure, but finally agreed to take part. Neither of the girls had ever played Blackjack. They were always seated at the one-cent slot machines trying to score a big payoff of $100. So, this was an experience.

Christie explained to the serious-looking dealer at the table that Rose and Dawn were new to this game and might need a little help and extra time. The serious face immediately changed to a smile and the dealer welcomed the two women to have a seat and relax. He would take good care of them.

“Wow,” Rose whispered to Dawn. “I had no idea that the casinos would be so accommodating to us old folks.” Dawn looked knowingly at Rose, nodded with certainty and said, “Well, when you play with big money like we are about to, they play special attention. People like us are called ‘whales’ because of the size of our ‘stake.’ I read that in one of the magazines in the lobby.”

Christie couldn’t help but giggle when she heard the two aunties whispering about ‘whales’ and big betters, but she wasn’t going to burst their bubble, so she kept her giggles quiet and her thoughts to herself.

Rose laid her $50 on the table and asked for some chips. The dealer asked her if she’d like $10- and $20-dollar chips. “Oh no,” she gasped. “I’d like them all in $1 chips. I like to have big piles in front of me.” A few people who were sitting at the same Blackjack table rolled their eyes and smiled weakly.

“Same for me, dealer,” piped-in Dawn. “We’re big gamblers but we’re going to make you work to get our money.” With that, the game began, and they all enjoyed the fruits of legalized gambling for the next hour.
At that time Rose announced, as she put her last $1 chip out as a tip for the dealer, “It’s time for this ‘whale’ to head back to Pacific Northwest waters."

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