What Happens in Vegas

An Excerpt from Chewing Sand by Gail Collins-Ranadive

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Boarding my flight back to Las Vegas, I absentmindedly try to stuff my all weather coat into the overhead bin. A voice from the seat behind mine lashes out, “Watch what you’re doing! Can’t you see there’s a wedding gown up there!?”

Stunned, I stop. And look. Indeed: a bulky white garment bag is puffed out across space meant to be shared by several passengers. Ah, is this the archetypal Vegas Wedding couple?

As the groom-to-be settles in with a series of drinks, his behavior goes from annoying to obnoxious to belligerent as we wend our way across the continental United States, confirming why I repeatedly refuse to perform weddings for couples coming into Vegas from elsewhere. I believe it is totally unethical of me, as ordained clergy, to join two people in marriage without first helping them examine their family histories and personal character traits and then laying out the issues that might trip them up along the unfolding road ahead.

Now a full-blown drama is playing out behind me. When the passenger beside me unwittingly pushes her seat back, the male half of the wedding couple begins relentlessly kicking her seat. This goes on for the full six hours, The female half of the couple is cowering against the window, perhaps seeing her situation in a whole new light. Who is this man she’s about to marry? Does she sense she is trapped? Is she thinking she can change him with her love? Perhaps it’s simply the reputation of Sin City that brings on such bad behavior….

As we get up to exit the plane, I look over my shoulder and send a silent blessing to the bride while the groom wrestles her wedding gown out of the overhead bin.

“May our chamber of commerce’s promise come true for you, ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.’” Amen.