The votes are in! Here are the rankings for our Las Vegas trip MVP! The rankings were determined by a one-and-a-half-person panel consisting of myself and kind-of Lynnette, and are presented in reverse order.
#85 Hobson. Mike and Lynie have four dogs: Maia, Zoe, Yoshi, and Hobson. On our first day, Madison was thrilled to be surrounded by dogs of various size (Maia is a husky mix, Yoshi is a papillion), but her mistake was thinking that all of them would be a docile as Abby. As Madison ran around the living room with the dogs, Hobson decided it would be a good idea to bite Madison in the ankle. I saw it happen. I wish you could have seen Madison’s face. It was a mixture of hurt, betrayal, shock, and the inability to articulate what had just happened to her. After that, we never saw Hobson again. Mike and Lynie sequestered him to their bedroom to prevent another episode (and also explains why we don’t have a picture of him in this space). We were, however, able to hear him bark swear words at our daughter through the bedroom doors.
#41 Thanksgiving Closures. We got into Vegas on Thursday morning and I was all set to make my triumphant return to In-N-Out. My soul nearly evaporated when I saw the lifeless restaurant in the empty parking lot. I don’t know why I thought anything would be open on the morning of Thanksgiving, but I was shocked when Lynnette said exactly that. You know I hatehatehate delaying gratification.
#37 Static Electricity. Since we hadn’t been in Vegas since 2006, I had forgotten what a special pain in the ass static electricity can be. It’s so great because it gets you both ways. Either you totally forget about it and live your life normally only to be zapped when you’re opening a door, going to hold your daughter’s hand, or kiss your wife. Then, if it happens enough, you start living your life in fear of the next zap. Will it be this door? This handshake? Also, it made my daughter a lunatic for four days.
#35 Fussy Madison. I was right. Every day with Madison was a struggle because she only wanted to do the things she wanted to do (kind of like Lynnette, but Madison is 6). She tried implementing rules like “We can only go shopping on Black Friday.” She made that one up on Saturday. She dreamt up the now famous “Casinos are adult places, don’t take me there.” My personal favorite least favorite moment from this weekend comes courtesy of the aforementioned static electricity. We were walking through the parking lot about to cross a busy lane. I reached out for Mad’s hand and she recoiled for fear of the zap. She backpedaled quickly in the direction of a moving car. I don’t remember what I said, exactly (somehow it wasn’t a swear), but I know that it was loud and I know that Madison was more afraid of it than static electricity because she put her hand in mine immediately.
#33 Airport Food. Believe it or not, this was the first time in my life I had to catch connecting flights in such a quick manner. We spent a lot of time in airports and consequently we ate a lot of airport food and consequently I spent a lot of time in airport bathrooms. It started horribly at HNL when I decided against my better judgement to eat a Quizno’s sub because I couldn’t see myself going for 12 hours or so without food. It was a gift that kept on giving, as it allowed me to add both McCarran and SFO to the list. Great stuff. Airport food can be found on the cartesian plane at (price gouging, shitty quality).
#24 Lynnette. Now it’s true that like always, Lynnette came up with the plans for our trip. She did a masterful job as always, but she gets knocked down for a few reasons. She also served as co-pilot for the entire trip, her handy phone GPS in hand. The problem, though, is that she really doesn’t know the difference between left and right. I wish that were hyperbole, but it’s not. The best such example came when I was driving on 5-lane road. “You’re going to take a left in half-a-mile,” Lynnette said. I veered all the way over from the right lane. A few seconds later, Lynnette said “Wait – did I say left? I meant right!” I veered all the way back. “You want to kill me right now, don’t you?” she asked. Probably, but probably not as much as she wants to kill me right now.
#20 Las Vegas Roads. They are huge and no one is on them. I sat in traffic one time, and it was because of an accident. It was incredible. I was going 75 on the freeway and Priuses were passing me. Freeeeeeedooooom!
#19 Dollar Rent-a-Car. It was the least cumbersome rental experience ever. We paid for our reservation (Mitsubishi Galant or similar) and headed down to the lot we were met by a woman who offered us a choice of cars. She spoke with an accent, so we couldn’t understand her perfectly. “You can have Mazda (a 5), Charger, or Altima,” she said. “Altima,” Lynnette and I said simultaneously. “No, no, no Altima, Optima,” she said. She pointed to the smaller car. Charger it was.
#16 Las Vegas Fall/Winter Climate. I didn’t sweat for five straight days.
#14 Food We Don’t Have in Hawaii. We got to Krispy Kreme, In-N-Out, and Panera Bread in addition to all those ridiculous buffets. Apologies to Sonic, Red Robin, and everything else we see in commercials when we’re watching Fox Sports West.
#13 Dimetapp. Both Lynnette and Madison had sniffles and sore throats at various points on the trip. Would have ranked higher on this list had it not exploded and/or spilled in our luggage on the way back home.
12. Caffeine. It was a throwback to my college days when I used to pull all-nighters to write papers fueled only by the fear of a deadline and caffeine. My teeth still haven’t recovered.
#10 Party Madison. On those rare occasions when Madison wasn’t an unholy beast grouch of a child, she was pleasant as always. This is a picture I took of her when she fell off her chair at the wedding reception. Did she cry? No. She pretended to sing into an inflatable microphone which the DJ had given her for “being so cute.” I suppose that as true as it is that Madison can be a no-fun party-pooper, it is just as true that when there is an actual party, she steps up her game. She really just likes any reason to get dressed up, wear nice shoes, and make lots and lots of noise. I predict the future, but damn it, I am afraid of it.
#9 Lynnette’s Extended Family. Always a good time. They’re the best kind of in-laws as far as I’m concerned: innocent enough to have some truly great “Is that really what it means?” moments, but cool enough to have some “Shut up, Phil!” then-laugh-about-it moments. Best running subplot: For years, we’ve been bullying Chelsea (far right) into saying prayer at all the family functions. She never wants to, but ultimately does it. She’s the anti-Paul. This happened on the night of the wedding reception too, culminating in her frantic Google search for suggested topics. Great job, though, Chels!
#7 Kid Activities in Las Vegas. Thankfully, there was enough stuff to keep Madison’s mind off of how horrible casinos are. We were able to visit an super-interactive kids’ center. We were bummed that there wasn’t any snow on Mount Charleston, but lucked into that fake snow area Downtown. Mad also loved the fake Eiffel Tower and Bellagio Water Show. I wish I had a good picture of the awe on her face as the water sprayed and jumped all over the place.
#6 Public Playgrounds. Same as #7, but gets the slight edge for being free.
#2 Mike and Lynie. They planned a great event all around. The food was great (prime rib! pasta that didn’t lay waste to my insides!), the venue was excellent, and the program was quick, but meaningful. I think anytime you can celebrate your wedding at an open bar that has a view of the Strip and shows the Sunday night NFL game, you win. Mike and Lynie also get mad bonus points for their performance in the money dance which was so awe-inspiring and vivid, I had to cover my daughters eyes. Congrats again, guys!
#1 Mom and Dad Pascua. It was clear very early on in the planning of this event that we would only be able to afford Lynnette attending the wedding. Mom and Dad Pascua wouldn’t hear that, so they paid for our tickets to Vegas and let us stay in their home. They fed us (too well). Lynnette obviously has a different perspective on them than I do, so I will speak for myself. Mom and Dad, thank you so much for everything over the course of this long weekend. I had a wonderful time, and I know Madison enjoyed it immensely. None of it would have been possible without your generosity and true love of family. You both continue to amaze me by how far you’re willing to go to make sure all of us are taken care of. Enjoy the rest of your stay, and we’ll see you when you get back home.