FEATURE — A voluptuous blonde in head-to-toe leather, hot pink lips and a rhinestone speckled microphone barred my path. She wanted cash. “I’m a single mom. You’re on camera and you gotta pay to be here with a showgirl,” she growled.
I wasn’t exactly sure how I’d gone from casually walking down the Las Vegas strip with my 17-year-old son, our friends and two CVS plastic bags filled with sunscreen, flavored water, brown sugar pop-tarts and a variety box of Tampax to this.
But here I was – pinned uncomfortably between the leathered showgirl and a small black fence railing on the edge of the busy sidewalk.
I laughed uncomfortably and scanned the crowd for my people. I spotted the back of my son’s pale, blue t-shirt, already a hundred yards away in the boisterous throng about to cross the street and called out to him.
He didn’t hear me.
I sidestepped, my improbable jailer mirroring my move, and called to him again. He still didn’t hear me.
“I don’t have cash,” I tried to explain to the woman. “You should have thought of that before you came here with a showgirl,” she retorted.
“Here?” I questioned. “As in the public sidewalk?” She didn’t laugh. Or move.
This wasn’t resolving itself. I was too encumbered, and she was too persistent. I needed to change the dynamics. But I was nervous to physically push past her. She looked fragile – and hard.
I called my son again. Louder.
This time he heard, turned and visibly jolted when his eyes found me – and her. He quickly pushed his way against the crowd and within moments, my right elbow in his hand, was deftly maneuvering me away.
He saved me. My son. Like I have done for him a hundred times and in a hundred ways. And just like that, the circle was complete.
I didn’t look back.
But I kept thinking about the leathered showgirl for the rest of the hot afternoon on the Strip.
I thought about her when I saw a young woman flopped awkwardly over in a plastic chair under an umbrella, a security guard and police officer standing sentinel over her passed-out form.
I thought of her when I heard the very loud and very foul one-sided phone conversation of the cirque worker who paced me for three blocks while rolling a giant, stage prop behind him.
I thought of her when I saw two other young “showgirls” – sequined, feathered and mostly bare-bottomed – hustling pictures from shuffling tourists.
I thought of her when I saw a middle-aged man stumble over to a raised curb, collapse onto it, then look around confusedly as the woman who appeared to be his wife stumbled after him.
I thought of her as the young man in a backward ball cap uncertainly picked up the shards of a glass bottle he’d just dropped on one of the skybridges over Las Vegas Boulevard.
I thought of her when I saw the street performer warming up to Bobby Brown’s “Every Little Step,” as dusk fell outside the crowded Shake Shack.
I thought of them. And I looked at my son. My son who will soon go off into the world as a college student. Where he’ll make his own choices. Where he’ll become the man of his choosing.
My son who saved me from the beginning of what felt like a soft robbery just hours before. Saved me from the grown, leathered, pink-mouthed, child of another mother.
All of the people – the drunken, the lost, the wild, the crazy, the everything in between – I saw on the Strip that day. They all have mothers. Mothers who probably had hopes and dreams for their children at some point in time. Some that came true, others that didn’t.
Each and every one of them is somebody’s baby – or at least they once were.
And it made me remember the connection and humanity of us all.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.