Today's story is not one of joy or happiness, it's not a fantastic anecdote about the antics of my children, or a sweet narrative about my wife. This is an account of great pain and angst. By no means, will this be for the faint of heart.
We have all been there at one time or another, though few of us ever want to admit or talk about it. It's that unfortunate situation, while away on vacation, when you leave the friendly confines of your local eateries, for all those exotic unfamiliar restaurants you just have to try.
This particular trip I'm about to tell you about, happened a few years ago. A couple of buddies and I flew out to Vegas for a few days in March to watch some college hoops, play poker and relax. This was not our first time in Sin City, though it seems there is always something new each time I go. On this trip, they were remodeling the old Imperial Palace Hotel, which is now, The Linq Hotel & Casino. My buddy Ben, had some weird fascination with a new restaurant he had heard about or saw on some food network tv show. From the moment we landed, Ben would seriously not stop talking about this place. He had the type of infatuation and obsession some men normally reserve for Sapphire Club or Spearmint Rhino, while in Vegas. The restaurant he so eagerly wished to visit, was a place called, "Hash House A Go Go".
The third member of our trio, was a friend of mine I had known since our school days, in Buffalo Mo. Brent and I new immediately, we needed to make a plan as to when we would visit this establishment, or Ben would drive us crazy. We all decided we would wait and go the following day for brunch. We would spend the rest of that evening watching the college basketball tournament, playing Black Jack and poker.
A few weeks before our trip, I had been prescribed a new medication for type 2 diabetes. I had been having some problems with it upsetting my stomach, but I had kinda figured out what types of foods I should stay away from. If I knew I might be eating something questionable or greasy, I would counter the issue with Imodium AD about 2 hours before the feast. I had packed those pills in my bag for just that occasion.
We of course, stayed up really late and overslept. This did not matter in the least to Ben. We had a designated time to drop by this food operation, and we would not be allowed to alter our agreement in any way. We had about an hour to get ready and get a cab to our destination. I took 2 Imodium and prayed they would do their job on short notice.
We arrived at "The Linq", and found our way to Ben's passion pit. His lust and yearning for this place, had reached its ultimate peak. I'm not sure if what I saw was a tear or a bead of sweat rolling down his face, but he was moist nonetheless. The place was packed as expected, so we had a bit of a wait. This gave me the opportunity to scout out the place, and figure out my plan of attack, should my stomach decide to have an altercation with what I was about to introduce to it. We had taken an elevator up to the second floor which opened up into the restaurant. I looked around and was unable to see any restroom signage. I looked for an employee to ask, but they were slammed and unavailable. Oh well, I felt fine, so I would just ask the waitress once we were seated.
Our hostess sat us and our waiter was there to help us relatively quick. As he took our drink orders, I asked him where the men's room was located. His response left me a little nervous. There was no restroom there, but down the elevator, on the first floor, there was. With rising internal fear, I asked him specifically where it was that I would need to go in case of an emergency. I was a few years removed from my auto accident, and walk, as I still do, with a cane. I am not able to run, jog or walk with hurried intent. My walk is pretty much the same regardless of the situation I'm in. As I listened to the directions he gave, and the corrections he made while giving said directions, I looked at Ben and Brent, with hope, that they knew what was said. Brent and I ordered our OJ and coffee while Ben ordered some ridiculous hot chocolate, with arousing exhilaration! The waiter left our table, and I asked if either of them knew where the bathroom was located. Ben said he understood the directions and knew exactly where to go. I felt a little better and was ready to open up the menu and see what all the fuss was about.
We watched as other folks were served their delicious meals. The serving size of some of these collations was insane! I saw a plate of chicken and waffles that had to be two feet tall. I located a stuffed burger and fries on the menu that had my mouth watering and stomach rumbling. With all the action the night before, I had not eaten at all, I was starving. The waiter brought our beverages and took our orders. We sat and watched Ben drink his bowl of hot glutinous chocolate fluid, as we anticipated the entrees we were about to be graced with.
It had arrived! What a sight to behold. This burger was massive and the fries were golden, crunchy and well seasoned. This was not a hamburger you pick up and take a chomp out of, no, this bad boy had to be cut into, and eaten like a steak. As I penetrated through this massive mound of meat, the cheese spilled out and I could not wait for that first bite. The combination of flavors along with the cheesy filling inside each of the two beef patties was everything I had hoped for. My stomach barked at me with excitement, begging for more. I was happy to oblige. I inhaled a few fries and followed them up with another fork full of that juicy burger.
Two bites......just two bites, that's all it took for the brawl in my belly to begin. Apparently, the two bouncers I had hired an hour and a half earlier, to help protect my stomach, were no match for these two beefy blokes. Everything I had been worried about, was now coming to fruition. Ben happened to look up and see the panic in my eyes as my skin began to turn a pale white. "What's wrong? Are you ok?", he asked. I explained to both of them, I was gonna have to get to the bathroom, and asked Ben again, "are you sure you know where the men's room is located?". He assuredly let me know that he did.
My lack of leg function does not allow me to just hop right out of my seat. There is a lot of pushing, pulling and strain, along with the use of my cane and any second sturdy object to get my then 265 lb. body (I'm now 240, thank you) to a standing position. On my first attempt, I immediately sat back down. It was evident that the bouncers were trying to throw those beefy bros out the back door, and fast! I could feel beads of sweat building upon my brow. I frantically told Ben and Brent to find an employee, any employee, and ask if they had a wheel chair available. In my mind, there was no way I was standing up, my best bet was to slide into a chair, and be pushed to the nearest bathroom. No luck, they did not have a wheelchair available. The perspiration is now visible on my arms and I can feel it puddling in my armpits. I just know I'm gonna explode right there, in front of all these people, inside a packed house.
The same disability and weakness I have in my legs, also prevents me from tightly closing and locking the back door if you know what I mean. I came up with a new plan. This time I would have Ben stand behind me as I rose, and act as a shield for the pending disaster. He agreed, and I somehow successfully made it upright. I now had to depend on Ben to get me to the elevator, down to the first floor, and into the bathroom as quick as possible. Brent stayed behind as we made the journey. We made our way to the elevator and with only a slight delay, made our way down. The doors opened, and Ben told me to go left. We walked and walked and walked some more. "Where is the bathroom Ben?", I worriedly shouted. I told him to go ahead of me and see if we are getting close. At this point, I'm hurting, I mean I am a minute or two away from redecorating the walls of this endless hallway. Ben returns, and tells me there is no bathroom in that direction. My heart sinks. I now have to backtrack, then go the other direction and try to find a men's room which neither of us know the location of. I bark at Ben to please go find the damn bathroom as I try to walk with the knowledge that at any point, I'll be single handily shutting this Hotel down for cleaning. He rushes down the hall and back to me. "I found it!", he says. "But......", why is is there a but? I'm doing everything to control my butt, I don't need another! "But, its up some stairs and I don't see an elevator.", he tells me. This can't be happening. At that very moment, my stomach screams out.....actually more of a roar, and people walking by, can hear it. I began to panic, as the back hatch was about to blow open. I needed to sit but there were no seats or benches around. The only thing I could think to do was back that azz up, as the rap artist, "Juvenile", would say. I pressed my hind quarters against a wall, bent forward and leaned heavily on my cane. I assume that all of the people who walked by starring just thought I was another drunk tourist about to puke. The wall worked, I was able to barricade the rear exit. This bought me the extra time I desperately needed. I continued on my way with the direction of Ben, and we made it to the stair case. I could see the men's room, sitting atop the 6 steps I needed to navigate, while carrying a ticking time bomb. As I took each painful step, clothes drenched in sweat, I felt like an Olympic distance runner, closing in on the finish line. I made it! Ben went in and found an empty stall and held it for me. The kind of relief I felt when I sat down to make that dirty deposit, was unlike anything I have ever undergone. To this day, I have no idea how I was able to make it without a disastrous outcome.
Ben and I returned to our table inside Hash House A Go Go, ready to finish the meals we had only began to enjoy. The table, however, was empty. Our plates were gone and Brent was nowhere to be found. Ben had a sad, puppy dog look on his face. The brunch he had desired for so long, had been lost. We then saw Brent come off the elevator, he had been searching for us. "Did you have them box our food up?", Ben asked. "No, I thought you guys were finished." Brent said. "Finished? I only had a couple bites.", Ben explained, with disbelief in his voice. I guess Brent had begun to feel uncomfortable sitting alone at a table while employees wondered when he would cough up the space for other patrons. He paid the tab and left to see where we were and what had taken us so long.
To this day, Ben still bitches about not being able to finish his food. I no longer eat at any restaurant without knowing where the closest restroom is located, and Brent no longer goes on trips in which Ben is included.