I chose Henderson over Vegas because I don’t want to deal with the large party city on a Saturday night – the cost, the crowds, the loneliness. I also don’t like the idea of being there with a car. Though casinos do have parking, driving down the strip is anything but enjoyable.

I stay in a casino on the outskirts of everything and everywhere. The receptionist tells me how he is looking to get the hell out of there and move to Eugene; he even has a realtor helping him live out his dream. I was going to gamble and grab a bite to eat before heading out, but the whole scene was too depressing. When you take away the lights and the glitz and the superlatives, the purpose of casinos is all that remains and it makes me uncomfortable.

I get to the bar in Henderson early, as I was hoping to watch some college football and grab a bite to eat before singing. Instead there’s NASCAR on the couple of TVs and there’s no food served (odd for a place that’s open 24/7). I only had a granola bar and piece of cheese for a late lunch, so there won’t be a lot of drinking tonight, which is just as well.  I order a pint of Rolling Rock; it’s flat and the taps haven’t been cleaned in months, if ever. It’s also one of the smokiest places I’ve been – everyone has either a cig in hand or is vaping. It’s clearly a place of locals and regulars, a place where friends meet to shoot pool or the breeze. A place where the bartender says hello as you walk in, and pours your favorite drink as you sit down in your favorite seat. I grab a seat at the bar, purposefully not directly in front of a video crack machine (though I do debate on blowing five bucks in one, I never get around to it); I hope it’s not someone else’s.

A group of three next to me is chatting with the bartender; one of them asks what “suburb” means, and the bartender replies “it’s a fancy rich town with lawns.” I suppose that’s as close to the truth as any. Then the KJ wanders in and lets everyone know he got a new special effects light bulb to make the show more fun and it literally takes four of them to figure out how to screw it in. Once that’s accomplished all the patrons come over for an awe-struck inspection of this new marvelous addition to the place.

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Pretty lights with questionable placement.

The bartender asked a customer what a Bloody Mary is, to which the patron replied, “Vodka and juice;” I guess the specifics aren’t important. Other things I overheard:

  • “I’m tired. I work five days a week and have a yeast infection.”
  • “I was in her pussy when she woke me up.”
  • “What happened to Chris?”
    “He died”
    “At least he didn’t owe me money anymore.”

Then I spoke to a man who truly believes that Paul is dead. He also wants to get out of Henderson and now dreams of singing karaoke across the US just as I have, but first he needs to fix up his motor home and finish suing his dentist for not replacing his teeth.

A woman named Froggy starts off the singing with a country tune. She’s wearing an iron-on t-shirt with a frog on it, and green stripes down the sides of the sleeves (think 70s), coupled with a quilted vest of playing cards. At her table, there’s a pile of crafting supplies so she can make paper flowers. By the end of my evening I have two. When I say goodbye to Froggy and thank her for the flowers, she hugs me and says to come back next week.

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My bouquet on the bar

The basics:

  • Location: The Rustic Lounge, Henderson, NV
  • Miles traveled: 234
  • Songs sung: Hold on Loosely (38 Special), Dreams (Fleetwood Mac)
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A home away from home.
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