Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Value Of A Discount( or my favorite coupon)

Labor Day 2001 perhaps the last weekend America would feel untouchable and invincible. I was driving over the road trucks for a small trucking firm based in Minnesota. My then girlfriend caught a flight out to Las Vegas, and I made arrangements with my trucking company to let me layover in Las Vegas for the 3day weekend. My sister and her daughter(my niece) flew in from out of state. Friends of my girlfriend whom live in Las Vegas picked her up at the airport and taxied us around to hook up with everyone. It promised to be a great weekend. The load I was under allowed me to spend up to 4 days gambling and cavorting with my honey, plus see my relatives and friends. The trouble is my schedule allowed 2 days more than my wallet did. Typical for Vegas. The first stop on that particular load delivered in Canton, Ohio, Sept. 11th 2001, the second and final stop delivered in southern N.J. on the 12th. When I was empty I was to head north to Patterson, NJ and reload. Looking across the meadowlands where the Giants play football. I saw 1st hand what those evil bastards had done, but all that was in a future I could not of dreamed of that labor day weekend.I picked up my load in Los Angeles and made my way up I-15 to Las Vegas arriving at the T/A truckstop around 3:00pm Vegas time on Friday Sept 2nd, 2001. My sweetheart would not arrive until 7:00am Sept 3rd. I fueled the truck, found a suitable parking spot, and went inside the truckstop for a meal and a shower. After my shower I stowed my gear back inside my rig and made my way back to a small casino inside the T/A truckstop. I won a little cash about $150 and then went back to sleep in my truck and await the arrival of my sugar-dumpling early next day. What a great life rambling the country seemed like at that moment. The truth of it all is the miles take a toll on your soul and for every enjoyable minute on the road there is an hour of despair. I awoke the next morning eager to see my gal after all it had been 5 weeks since I last kissed her goodbye. Her friends picked her up at the Vegas airport and brought her to me by 9:00am. When she arrived to meet me in the casino. She not only looked like a million but had a couple hundred dollars she could loan me. Is there anything more attractive than a lady with cash? In Las Vegas no less, she was a sight for sore eyes, a drop of dew in the desert.We did the usual couple in love routine, kiss, eat breakfast,drink,& gamble. You know the old routine. By noon my sister had called to report they were safely checked into the Sands and her Daughter(my neice) and her new husband were there also. So we headed the wagons on down the strip to meet up. Where we shared a group hug followed by more drinking,& gambling. By now it was mid-afternoon and we took a group vote on our next move. The majority rule decided N.Y.-N.Y. was our next venue. Some high quality chinese food in their pricey China Town type restaurant. A little walk around gawk at the casino which produced some genuine midwestern gee-whiz's. Followed by drinking and gambling. This in turn led to another group hug and the drinking produced some genuine dedications of affection. To the untrained and sober ear probably sounded alot like "Loves Shoe Man,sho berry haphy yoush cold maksh da rip". Translation-"Love you man, so very happy you could make the trip". To truly understand drunkenese it helps to be drunk. The group vote took us to Paris the casino next. Where we all agreed to drink more gamble less.Paris casino is truly a work of art. They had a wonderful bar where many more gushing dedications of affection were slung at one another. If one had enough drinks and you squinted a little, you could truly believe that Paris lay at the end of our bar. The ceiling is painted like sky, the bottom of the Eifel Tower loomed in front of us, and the staff was rude just like the French. My little buttercup wandered off with a bucket of nickels to gamble. Leaving me to drink with my sister. My sis' whom I've always admired and looked up to. Began to unburden herself of her woes and explain how she had always dreamed of having a sister-in-law just like my little pumpkin. My niece chimed in and stated she always dreamed of having an Aunt-In-Law like my honey bee. To top it off the group consensus was, they were all tired of gambling, but the liqour should continue.The other group consensus was that I would be a fool to let this one get away. As I squinted out over the casino floor. I asked God for a sign. God always one for a little humor, let my squinty eyes fall upon my love muffin. There she was in radiant splendor coming towards me, squinting back at me. Ever so gracefully spilling dainty dallops of beer from her cup in her right hand. Spilling nickels from the bucket tucked under her left arm. Yes my sister was right, my niece was right. Plus who could argue with a chuckling God and the romance that is Paris-kinda. I must make this vision Mrs. Hootnhowell #3. When she approached I was swept up in the rapture of Paris-kinda. I dropped to my knee and begged, if she would have me, and I could have her bucket of nickels, we could wed this very night. She said other than another beer there was nothing that would make her more happy. I gallantly said I would provide both. After all it was past midnight central time and I could get more cash now from yonder ATM. Yes fate had aligned in our favor. More celebatory drinks while we made our wedding plans. To be married on labor day would mean I could easily remember our anniversary. Women like that. I know because this lack of knowledge in my first 2 marriages caused much friction. There was some group discussion on what kind of wedding we should have. I wanted a midget Elvis pastor. While my bride-to-be wanted something a little more traditional. Perhaps a drive through chapel. My sister took charge and stated that she would order another round. Whilst I cashed in the nickels and secured more ATM cash. It was all coming together nicely. My bride to be wondered aloud just when she could expect the beer she had been promised. I rushed off to the cashiers window.Upon my return everything was in motion. My future Mrs. Hootnhowell was happily finishing her long awaited beer. My sister had secured directions to the court house. I was happily counting our nest egg of $417.85 plenty dough for a 1st class Vegas wedding. The rude waitress was happily anticipating our drunken party of 9's departure. We tipped her a couple of nickels and towards the courthouse we went. We caravaned in two vehicles swerved into a Circle K for libations to go, and direction check. We entered the court house and after answering some very personal questions, secured our license of bliss. As we exited the court house. A strategically placed man approached us. Call it fate, call it kismet, call it luck, or gratuitous fortune, say it was simply in the cards. What this man of stategy handed us was a coupon for a wedding chapel complete with directions. I still remember the directions which were as follows: go north on Las Vegas Blvd. the chapel is located on your right just as you pass Gasse. Yes God was surely giving our marriage all the green lights. My future bride was unsure. I promised that we would investigate a drive through chapel enroute. True to my word as all good marriages should be. We stopped at a drive up chapel to compare prices. The driveway was a long winding affair covered by a painted awning. Painted on the underside of the awning was a depiction of a cloud speckled sky. I explained to my soon to be wife that this place was not special enough. My reasoning which she listened intently to. Was that if the sky painted driveway awning were not there. When you looked up you would see a real sky. Besides factoring in the coupon we could save almost $158.00 by traveling on. She cracked another beer and reluctantly agreed. We careened on towards coupon chapel.Heading up Las Vegas Blvd. true to the directions on the right hand side of the road. Just after having passed Gasse was the neon glow welcoming bride and groom. Out front on the sidewalk was parked a Harley motorcycle. We learned later that particular couple had just met earlier in the afternoon. Who's to say how love works? Undaunted but a little nervous and a lot inebriated we entered with our coupon. Twice our merry little party had to be quieted as we were interupting the Harley couples vows. Once when I burst out laughing at the gold lettered sign on the back wall of our waiting room. The wooden cut out letters painted gold read Church Of The Golden Grain. In my drunken state I believed the sign to read Church Of The Golden Groin-my bad. The second bout of laughter bringing retribution. Was when somebody in our party requested the coupon back for a scrap book project. It was explained in no uncertain terms if they gave it back it wouldn't be a coupon. Can't argue with logic like that I guess. Never a group to let naysayers dampen an otherwise festive occasion. The females of the group took my future Mrs. Hootnhowell off for preparations. The coupon included a veil, a bouquet of plastic flowers, and services rendered by a very small Phillipine minister. True it wasn't the midget Elvis I was hoping for. But hey thats what a bucket of nickels and a coupon will get you in Vegas. Besides if you squinted your eyes just right-well you get the idea. I anxiously stood waiting for my little bride at the front of the chapel. She entered holding the wall to steady her drunk stroll. She was a vision blowing upwards on a veil she wore backwards. We were all trying in vain to keep our composure. My sister feigned crying into my brother-in-laws arm. When half way through our ceremony the previous couple reved their Harley-we all lost it. It may not have been the most beautiful wedding, but it was definately the most fun!After the ceremony we shared a group hug and a vote. Decided to try for a nightcap at the Tropicana. My niece and her husband gave us a honeymoon suite there as a wedding gift. After a few more drinks we decided to take my little flower to the room. Upon entering we tossed her on the bed to pass out. The room was gorgeous complete with a jacuzzi, a view of the MGM, and the strip. I watched my little bride sleep. Then I filled the jacuzzi turned on the TV. I watched some old reruns of a 60's era show. I looked out over the strip and admired it's neon beauty. I contemplated having our marriage annuled. To this very day I'm glad I did not. I could not imagine life without her. Whenever people gather and talk of how expensive this wedding or that wedding was. My wife and I laugh out loud. How many couples can brag about using a coupon to get married? I did and it's been my favorite coupon ever. I hope you've enjoyed this rambling blog. Please feel free to visit my new blog pages at or visit hubpages and search hootnhowell. Good luck to all.

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