Once Upon a Time, I Met a Guy at a Blackjack Table in Las Vegas and Married Him
I was sitting in a history class once (in college - which, for the record, I didn't finish) and for some reason or other, the teacher brought up getting married in Vegas. Specifically, the teacher was joking that you wouldn't take a marriage seriously if someone got married in Vegas because we all know those marriages never last (keep in mind this was in Southern California, and Vegas was only a short drive away...close enough that you could probably get drunk, decide to go get married in Vegas, and still be drunk when you got there). I don't remember what the actual lesson was, but this comment was somehow or other related to the day's lesson.
The reason this memory sticks with me is not because the teacher said no one who gets married in Vegas stays married (there's probably some truth to that), but because one student took offense and said something along the lines of, "Well, MY parents got married in Vegas and they've been married for over 20 years now." I remember turning around in my seat (along with everyone else) to see this person because, quite frankly, I thought getting married in Vegas *was* a bit cheesy and I was more than a little annoyed by this interruption when clearly the teacher was making a point and not slamming anyone's parents for getting married in Vegas.
At the time I was probably twenty years old.
Little did I know, in a few short years *I* would be getting married in Vegas.
But I hold Las Vegas near and dear for another reason, too.
I met my husband at a Blackjack table in Las Vegas when I was 21 years old.
That's right. I met my husband when I was 21 and married him just over a year later. Most of the first year of our relationship was long distance (he lived in Texas, I lived in SoCal).
I can say, without a doubt, that fate brought us together.
My friend Sara and her mom were in Vegas for her 21st birthday. She wanted her two BFFs, me and Jesika, to come with. But we were both broke and couldn't afford a stay at the brand-new Mandalay Bay (which was opening the weekend she was turning 21). So, we stayed home.
The day before Sara's birthday, we decided "what the hell - let's go surprise Sara in Las Vegas! She will love it!" and just like that, off we went.
**I should say here that I was still broke. I had $40 to my name - two $20 bills in my purse. I don't actually remember WHAT THE HELL I WAS THINKING going to Vegas with only $40.**
I should also say here that this was before cell phones were mainstream. This was 1999. Yeah. We picked up and drove to Vegas to surprise our friend and all we had to get ahold of her with was her pager. Remember those?
So, we get to Vegas and lo and behold, the weekend a hotel opens up is craaa-zy. We wait (forever) in line at the Mandalay Bay to see if they'll give us Sara's room number. They don't. Because she's not even there. They tell us the hotel was overbooked and she's been set up in the Venetian,
21 and if nothing else, full of boundless energy (and not likely any alcohol, because we were broke, remember) we headed to the Venetian. We paged Sara, over and over again, from the hotel phone.
I can't remember how we eventually met up with Sara, but sometime, late that night, we did find her. And our plan had worked! She was so excited to see us!
If only we knew, at this point, that we were about to meet my future husband.
Jesika and I were dying to learn how to play Blackjack. We convinced Sara's mom to show us the ropes and sat down at a table with $5 Blackjack hands (because I had $40 on me, clearly I needed to be playing Blackjack, right???).
Lady Luck was good to me.
My money lasted a long, long time.
Sometime around 2:00 AM, a handsome young man stumbled up to the table (ok, at the time I didn't think he was stumbling but I've since learned that if Charles is loose in a casino after midnight, he's going to be stumbling). Sara, Jesika and I whispered and flirted. He was from Texas, y'all. He wore a shirt that was tucked in. He knew how to play Blackjack. He used to live in San Diego, not far from where I lived.
I liked him.
But we had to leave. We were out of money, didn't have a change of clothes and didn't want to stay in the hotel room with Sara and her family (umm...once again...WTF were we thinking when we decided to just pick up and go to Vegas...!?).
We stood outside the hotel (the Venetian, thanks to the overbooked Mandalay Bay) and said our goodbyes. Charles took down our addresses so he could send us postcards. I hugged him goodbye, and in that second, after just a few short hours of meeting him, I knew (absolutely, 100% knew) that I was going to marry him.
Yeah, he lived in Texas and I lived in California and we were both broke college students and I had a boyfriend and he was there with an ex-girlfriend he'd broken up with right before their planned trip to Vegas with her family, but that didn't matter. I knew this was my future husband.
And guess what? I was right.
A year and a half later, at the age of 22, I married him. In Las Vegas.
Tomorrow is our 11th wedding anniversary (take that, history teacher at Palomar Junior College in 1998!).