Fractured Facade


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Monday, September 17, 2018

Atlantic City Angel

I was supposed to spend last week up in Brooklyn after spending two days in Atlantic City. Every once in a while I'll get an email from a casino offering me a free room...well, "free" is subjective as by the time you add up all the fees associated with said "free" room the least it will run you is $32 a night, which is still way cheaper than the what could be hundreds of dollars a night.



So we accepted Caesar's gracious offer and booked two nights in their Centurion Tower. I highly recommend that tower as the room was beautiful, spacious, all new, comfy, and most importantly quiet! Nothing irks me more than to be in a hotel room near the elevator, ice machine, maid's room or to have noisy neighbors who constantly slam the door closed. Luckily we had none of that. We would have had a view as well if only some dang hurricane wasn't making us live in fog for two days.



It's easy to forget that there's a hurricane out there when you're in the casino or dining or drinking or whatever. Of course once you get outdoors and see the choppy Atlantic Ocean through the thick fog, or turn on the news in the room, or check text messages from a daughter who works at a local news station and is giving us hourly updates, reality sets back in.



But, before that happened we were just enjoying ourselves, so here's a couple of tips for your next Atlantic City excursion. Caesar's Palace is a really nice hotel to stay, especially if they're offering free or discounted rooms. They offer free parking pass for guests so you can self park and will benefit from the lengthy walk from the garage to the room. Do yourself a favor and note in your phone which garage, level and row you park. Trust me, or you may find yourself trying hard to remember. King size rooms are always nicer than two queen or double bed sized rooms. The little cafe in the lobby is great for a quick bite or late dessert.

We were highly unimpressed with Gordon Ramsay's restaurant. We've tried to go in the past and every time they always told us we would have a long wait even though we could see empty tables. We didn't realize they were doing us a favor then until we were seated this time and had dinner. Totally over-priced, tiny portions, bland and in a nutshell underwhelming. The escargot was okay but I've had better. I ordered the Shepherd's pie as I figure a Brit should have a good recipe. Nope, so salty, looked like canned peas and carrots in it, watery, and even though it was tiny I left most of it so you know it stunk. My husband had three half (not three whole eggs) "deviled" eggs and a hamburger. I had one cocktail, he had a coke. Dinner was $100! Luckily I hit $100 on my first try on a slot at Bally's so I felt better than I did the half hour before that happened. Even Steven!

Bally's was my favorite place to play slots, followed by Resorts as they still have the quarter Wheel of Fortune old reel ones. Most of the casinos now have penny slots, but you have to put in like 500 pennies in order to hit a big jackpot. I stay away from those as I have no idea what all those video screens and things are. I only play machines that have a pull handle as well, and that is a dying breed. I figure eventually I'll just give up slots because I'm not a fan of the push button, huge celebrity featured, video, techno looking things. Old school, baby, old school.

If you like table games, Bally's Wild West Casino was the only one where I was able to play Blackjack and Roulette at a $5 minimum. Even then I was betting $10 a hand and spin so I don't know why a $10 table scares me so much. I played for a while, but my best luck was on the slots. We walked to the new Hard Rock Casino. Didn't eat there because I'm not a fan of chain restaurants and the menu was not anything special. Walked through the casino and they did not have one quarter machine! Everything was those modern ones that I hate so didn't drop a dime in there. We walked back towards our hotel and had lunch at Harry's Oyster Bar. They have a nice pitcher of Sangria and I got my usual, raw little necks on a half shell and a shrimp cerviche...yum. We were staying away from Italian food because we were going to be getting plenty of that in Brooklyn over the next couple of days.

By the time we got back to the room on our last night we were exhausted. When I checked my phone there were a slew of messages about Hurricane Florence and how now Roanoke was in its bullseye. We watched the weather channel which forecast nothing but gloom and doom for us and then our daughter who pretty much reiterated that. We hadn't really taken any sort of precautions before we left so now we were faced with a dilemma...do we stay, or do we go? After checking future radar from the Weather Channel it looked like our best window of opportunity for driving was the following day.  If not, we would be stuck for a while. I do not like driving in the rain, never mind torrential storms especially in the cursed car.

Ah yes, the cursed car for those of you who don't know is the 1999 Olds Intrigue that was my dad's. When he died in 2007 we took it over as it only had 17,000 miles on it. My husband has always said to never take a dead person's car because it will give you nothing but trouble, and oh my God was he ever right about this one. Every single time we've taken it anywhere for a long distance something happens. I said after last year when the power steering pump went out when we were in New York, that was the last time. But then when this trip came up once again we think about the horrible parking situation in Brooklyn, the crazy drivers, do I really want to subject my Hyundai to that? And after all, the Olds still only has 70,000 miles on it. I reminded my husband of what we said last time, but was vetoed. So instead we spent yet another couple of hundred dollars fixing it up and getting it ready to roll.

On the way up there the check engine light came on. Frank: "Don't worry it's nothing." Then the radiator light came on. Frank: "It does that some times." Then the anti-lock brake lights. Frank: "Son of a bitch." I'm like wtf?! Is that why we're sliding every time you hit the brakes when the road is wet? Apparently so. He assured me it was nothing he couldn't handle so we left the cursed car in the lot for the two days and it was nice to just walk everywhere.

Anyway, back to our last night. We made the decision the smart move was to come back to Roanoke. I thought that maybe I could eke one more night out of our trip and make a quick run to Brooklyn. It was only 2 1/2 hours away...I could almost taste those baked clams and pastries. I could see my friends and family for a night of laughs and then we could bring back provisions to fill the two coolers we brought. Nope, wasn't going to happen after we called home to tell my son we were heading back. He informed us that we were going to be hosting a family from North Carolina with a baby and dog at our house for a couple of days. Say what? Without asking? Total strangers in my home who have a dog? Does he not know how our dog reacts to not only strangers, but other dogs??? That's all well and fine being a good samaritan and all, but yeah, no, I'm a little less trusting than he is, especially if I only know the people from playing video on-line games. So yeah we were heading back the next day. I needed to be there for Bella.

So there we were in the room looking at each other, cursing ourselves for not eating in a good Italian restaurant and me scratching my head wondering why is it every time I'm in Brooklyn I get called back because of an emergency. This time I didn't even freaking make it to Brooklyn! I swear the last six times something has happened and it's getting to the point I'm afraid to even go up there any more.

On Wednesday we checked out and trekked the mile to the car packing it all in, buckling myself in and I said out loud, "Ok bitch, get us home! No, that was to the car, not you Frank." He puts the key in, turns it and click, click, click. Nothing. He turns to me, tries it again. Click, click, click. Nothing. Are you freaking kidding me?! The cursed car is dead, dead, dead. All the lights are working in the car. My husband, who is a mechanic, starts cursing after I ask hopefully,  is it the battery? He doesn't think so and fears it might be the starter. He pops the hood open and could barely stand in front of it as we are pulled up all the way to the concrete wall. He can't get to the starter to try and hit it with a wrench. This really sucks. Now what are we supposed to do? We got to get it freaking towed to a repair shop. This really sucks.

I call AAA and after holding for about 15:00 with the message repeating over and wait times are more than usual, a person finally comes on. I'm told a tow truck will be at least an hour, maybe two then they could tow it to a repair shop but it will be up to the shop to say when they could work on it. This really, really sucks. This mother f*&ng cursed car!!!! To think I was so happy I was leaving Atlantic City up a whole forty bucks too! God knows what this is going to cost us, and worse, I GOTTA GET HOME TO MY DOG!!!

I felt like I was going to cry so I took ahold of my emotions by breathing deep and channeling "my people." I shut myself out from the world and asked them to please come and help us. I said I was leaving our situation in their hands and just letting go. It calmed me down. I got out of the car and leaned against the trunk.

Not five minutes pass when I see a guy in a white shirt walking through the parking garage down the ramp towards us. I nod as he passes and he looks at me and asks me if everything is all right. I say, "Not really, the car is dead." He asks me if I need help. I laugh and point to the white SUV next to us and say, "Sure, this wouldn't happen to be yours, would it?" He says, "Yes." What???? Are you kidding???? I ask him if he wouldn't mind trying to give us a boost. He says sure. I tell my husband let's give it a shot, we got nothing to lose.

We unload everything from the trunk and dig out the battery cables. The fellow has no idea how to open his hood so Frank does it for him. He also has no idea how to use the stick to keep the hood up so Frank does it for him. He has no idea how to put the cables on so Frank does that too. Frank tells him to turn the ignition over, brrr, brrrr, brrrrr, vroom!!!! The car starts!!!! Oh my God, I can't believe it!!! Frank quickly removes the cables and then it dies. Oh no, let's try again this time keep it on a little longer. It works!!!! I keep my foot on the gas pedal giving it a shot every so often as Frank unhooks all the cables and puts the guys hood down. As he's doing that and thanking him, Frank tells him we are trying to get back to Roanoke  before the hurricane hits. This fellow says, "Yeah, you guys need to go back home."

Frank comes back into the driver's seat and I get out wanting to thank this guy. Funny thing, he's already gone! He's not in the SUV. I look down the ramp to see if he was walking and don't see anyone. He like just disappeared. There were thousands of cars in this garage. What were the odds of us having the car next to us, the only car that could have reached us with jumper cables, come to our rescue. Where did this guy come from? Why would he be walking in the garage down from an upper level if the SUV was his? He didn't seem familiar at all with the workings of it either. It was just the strangest thing. I think it was my guardian angel, and when your guardian angel tells you you have to go home, you listen. We did. Smart move.



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