Arbitrary Story #4: David and Danny Do Vegas

I mentioned in an earlier blog posting, The Broken Road, that Matthew and I take care of a special needs adult, David.  David is 63, he’ll be 64 in October, and he is a Libra.  He will tell you that his birthstone color is pink.  Without you asking.  Just out of the blue, “you know, that’s the color of my birthstone.”

“I know David.”

“I’m a Libra.”

“I know David.”

“It’s pink.”

“I know David.”

This conversation repeats itself in 15 minutes.

David works at Chimes, a great organization that provides employment for special needs adults.  And, those that function at a higher level, like David, work outside the facility.  In David’s case, he works at cleaning the local courthouses — with his best friend, Danny.

Danny is a great guy.  He is BIG, though, and has a speech impediment that makes it really tough to understand him. He sounds roughly like the principal in the Peanuts cartoon.  And, unlike David, he talks CONSTANTLY.

I had a couple of shoots in Las Vegas, that were spaced a little less than a week apart.  So, in a moment of ….inspiration…we decided to pack David and Danny up, and head out on a family vacation.

I know, I know.  You should have seen us checking in at Golden Nugget.  Two gay men and two special needs adults.  David telling the front desk agent that his birthstone was pink, Danny asking what we were having for dinner for the eighth time.  But we managed to get checked in.

And it was a great vacation.  David loves the slots.  What’s worse, he WINS.  Me, I put a $20 bill in, pull the lever 5 times, and bye bye $20.  David, he puts in a $100, pulls the lever and gets back $1200.  Worse, he is POSITIVE that if he puts the $1200 in, he’ll get $12,000,000 — and gets indignant when we say, no, David, let’s take your winnings and split.

Of course, David and Danny also loved the Golden Nugget’s sliding board.  Part of this was because David was convinced Danny would get stuck in the tube coming down.  He stood, waiting in the pool below, hands on hips, saying, “you know, I think he’ll get stuck this time.”  How do you respond to that?

But my favorite part of the vacation came when we went to Hoover Dam.  David got in a snit — he wanted to go bowling that day — and pouted the entire drive.  Finally, in exasperation, Matthew said he could stay in the car.  David was perfectly happy to stay in the car, walking isn’t his idea of a great time.

That left Danny, Matthew and Me admiring the Dam.

“Wow! Matthew, it sure is pretty,” said Danny, “look at the view.  It sure is pretty.  Where’s David?  Oh, he’s in the van, but look, it sure is pretty!  Why is David in the van?  Oh, he was bad, Yes, he was, Oh, it sure is pretty…”

I gotta say, as I write this, I can’t help but LAUGH.  People who don’t work with special needs adults have no idea how COMPETITIVE they can be.

When we returned to the casino, David was still in a snit.  So, we took him down  to play slots.  Matthew stuck in a $20, and ….


I look up.  He’s doing his happy dance.  He’s looking exactly like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.  David glances over, Matthew immediately stops and looks normal.  David looks back at his slots.  Matthew’s Happy Dance continues.


“What?” I said, “What have you won?”

“How much is 12,000 quarters?” he shouts, “does anyone know how many dollars equals 12,000 quarters?”

“$3,000 honey….!”

My rule:  I get half.  Why I made this rule I’ll never know.  Maybe because I never win ANYTHING.  Matthew nearly break danced on the floor.  But every time David looked over, he was totally serious. Why?  Because if anyone wins but David, David is in a snit.

“Come on, David,” Matt eventually said, “these aren’t hitting tonight.  Let’s pack it in.”

David looked at me, then at Matthew.  He knew something was up.

“Ok,” he said, “look.  That’s the color of my birthstone.”


By the way — Danny took one look at the slots.  He stuck in a dollar, pulled the lever.  Nothing.

“Well, this is stupid,” he said, “let’s go bowling.”

I’ve never been a father.  But the first time I felt like a dad was on that flight to Las Vegas with Danny and David.  David had never been on a commercial flight.  His parents, growing up, owned a small plane — so they flew locally.  But he’d never really traveled by air.  Now, he has a frequent flyer account with Southwest.

But it was seeing him in his seat, holding the model Southwest airplane I bought him, when I felt like a dad.  My dad had bought me a Luthansa model when I was little; it sat on my desk for the longest time.  I can’t explain the feeling that came over me.  After all, David is 63!  But I still felt like a dad.

“Look,” he said, pointing at the setting sun, “that’s the color of my birthstone.”

“I know, David.  I know.”

The sliding board at Golden Nugget Las Vegas.  David stood at the base of the tube, hands on hips, “I think Danny will get stuck this time.”