Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Lazy in Las Vegas

I'm visiting my sister again. It's cooler than the last time, only in the middle 90's. The tortoises are stumping around the yard; the dogs got out today and ran who knows where, and we all scrabbled around yelling for them until they came back. It's dangerous for loose dogs - people drive way too fast on these roads.

With nothing else in particular to do, I accompanied my sister to her scheduled visit to get her hair and nails done. I didn't realize when I signed up for this that it was going to take three and a half hours; I love my sister dearly, but even I admit that she's "high maintenance." With a slight advance warning that it would take "all afternoon," I took a book.

As we approached the shop, the noise stunned me - the salon is right under the final approach path to McCarran International Airport. I mean right under - landing planes go over the front door maybe 200 feet up; you can read the letters on the fuselage. My sister says she waves to the pilots. The noise is unbelievably loud - I can't even estimate the decibel level. It completely freaked me out. However, this was where we were bound.

I hadn't realized how early the appointment was, and hadn't had any lunch; so my first move was to ask the desk girl to recommend a place to eat. She suggested a local lunch shop across the parking lot, and I tried it and found it good; and then I returned to the salon and settled down in the lobby with my book.

After not very long in the lobby, the smells began to get to me. This salon does everything chemical to hair - bleach, color, extensions, you name it - and they do nails, which means nail polish, nail polish remover, and whatever they use to glue on those long talons. Most of the chemical activity happens farther back in the shop, but the odors waft out to the reception area pretty regularly.

I read a couple more chapters of my book, and decided that the combination of airplanes and smells was more than I wanted to spend several hours in. I hunted up my sister, who was having something I didn't ask about painted on her hair, and told her that I was going to find a coffee shop to wait this out, and to call my cell phone when she was ready to leave. Going down the sidewalk, her "nail lady" stopped me and recommended a bar nearby where I could sit and read, because all the lunch places close early.

I should have seen this one coming. This isn't the Rive Gauche. Bars, especially in Las Vegas, do not expect people to sit and read; bars expect people to sit and (a) drink and talk, (b) play video poker, (c) watch ESPN, or (d) all of the above. None of these activities requires reading lights; the place was dark as a cave. Fortunately, it wasn't especially hot today, and they have a shaded outdoor patio, so I sat, drinking soda water, long enough to finish my novel and two short stories.

Part way into the third short story, I realized it was after 3 o'clock; no word from my sister, but the sun was coming around onto the patio. I wandered back to the salon, dodging from shade to shade (I forgot to put on sunscreen), and found my sister having her hair blow-dried by a man whose hair looked like someone was blow-drying him. I resettled in the lobby and read another short story, and then she was ready to go.

I still can't quite believe this, but she claims she'd never noticed the smells until I mentioned them. I'm also delighted that a freak of genetics means that I'm going gray gracefully, and slowly - all I get from my hairdresser is a very careful haircut.

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