Dear Dad,

Remember how we slipped away to Vegas a few times when I was in my thirties? You from Columbus and me from Cleveland — we’d fly separately and room together, just spend quality time? Well, as oft’ you said: “The players change, but the game goes on.” Last week I went there with my son.

From New York he came and from Cleveland I flew. Watching football — not baseball …playing poker — not gin … and staying uptown at The Aria — not downtown at the Plaza Hotel And Casino. Oh, Sorry Pop … it changed its name a few years back. It’s no longer “The Union Plaza”.

But yes, Dad, the more things change ….

Semi-bored Michael sat, studying his phone as I folded my hands — not unlike, by the way, my reading SI as you played in your tourney.

Father and son. Side-by side as adults. Away from the politics of family, from the mandates of home. One.

Not that we didn’t have a hiccup. Of course we did. Remember how even in the most idyllic of our times every once in a while I’d say or do something that we both could have done without? With that look of yours — that amalgam of incredulity, anger, love, and warmth — you’d muster two poignant words:

“Must you?” you’d say, (and as if once wasn’t enough): “Must you?”

And the storm always ended.

Anyway, let me share of the weekend:

Our room that first night really was two. A wall separated Michael’s bed from the sofa I’d plopped on. (Ed. Note: He offered the bed, of course; I declined. To me sleeping on a couch is the Jewish substitute for the Christian’s camping outside). Nonetheless, spacious as our room was (bigger than the house I grew up in on Bayard), apparently one of us snored too loud (no names, please). As such, the next day we moved. (Ed. Note 2: Our upgrade was bigger than Wieder’s home, and it was a split-level).

Oh, and before you ask, let me say that the food was exquisite. Not that I can tell you what we ate. (Ed. Note 3: It was up to me what kind of food we ate (Italian cuisine, Chinese, American, etc.). Then, once I’d narrowed the field my Heir Apparent chose the locale. For the life of me, though: why do so-called upscale restaurants feel compelled to list menu items so “enlisted men” like me can’t understand them? It was embarrassing how many times I had to ask my kid “What does this mean?”. Frites? Why can’t they just list French fries? And how ‘bout this: “Blistered green beans”! Are you kidding me?

So we laughed a bit. And smiled a bit. And even touched seriously on the realities of my first marriage… A conversation delayed by decades, it was perhaps not necessary, but perhaps quite healthy.

A bit.

We spoke of Max, and of Eli, and of my next trip out east.

—And of, of all things: wardrobe.

There I was, in my own world focused to the goings-on at the Hold-Em table, when he tapped on my shoulder…

“Can you get up for a second”
“Sure,” I said. “Is everything OK?”

Two feet from the table he told me:

“I’m mortified”!
“I’m mortified!”

(Ed. Note 4: Turns out a tee shirt worn over a button/down shirt, (the ultimate in card-playing comfort wear), is not GQ’s look. (Ed. Note 5: I call it the “over-under” style, and although its critics include the wondrous Carrie, I don it proudly).

“Can I take a picture for Meredith?”
“Absolutely,” said I, sacrificing none of my panache.
(His head was still shaking as I played my next hand).

Mostly though, we just hung out. As one. Father and son.  Together.

We left early Tuesday, for our long trips home. He up to Westchester, me back to C-town. Both of us to the “real world”.

It’s not true, Dad — what the marketing guys say. A lifetime after our last trip…a week after leaving Michael, I know better:

What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas … it stays in the heart … forever.

All my love,

Your Heir Apparent

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