To introduce Walt and Terry, I must tell the ending first.
“So, what’d you think?” I asked as we drove away from M Resort.
“Oh, I think it’s quite lovely,” crowed an upbeat Terry, at the wheel and returning us to our east-side homes not via Interstate 15 north but rather by swinging east by Seven Hills and then north on roads where you hit every light. “I’d really like to see the inside of that bar that overlooks the pool. That looks very interesting.”
“Oh, it was all right, but I didn’t leave anything there I feel the need to go back for,” he harrumphed, poodles Cocoa and Cognac on his lap. Then, to Terry he asked, “Where the hell are you taking us, and do I need a fucking passport?”
Ah, marital bliss. No, really. They snark at each other to no end, but it’s been that way for at least the 12 years I’ve known them, and I’m strangely endeared by it. Somehow, this couple has become my Las Vegas family, always present for holidays and birthdays, available to lend us tools or drive us to the airport, holding a dinner-table setting at their place for me at least once a week. I call them my fairy godparents and sometimes when I’m texting Miles, “The Olds.”
No, I did not drag them to M just to manufacture column fodder. For the nearly 30 years Walt, an 83-year-old retired doctor, and Terry, a 65-year-old travel agent, have lived in Vegas, they’ve had a charming tradition: They eat breakfast at every new hotel-casino on the first Saturday it’s open.
I’ve been along a few times—they insist on going at 7 a.m., so sometimes I bail—and when I do go it’s like being on an episode of Top Design as judged by Jack and Karen from Will & Grace or those grumpy guys in the Muppet Show balcony. Terry has generated many zingers I’ve used, my favorite being that the original interior of South Point made him feel “like I was trapped in a vat of whipped butter.”
For you, dear reader, I arose and went along at 7 a.m. to M. Walt got things off to a quick start; as we made our way south, he said he would’ve packed a bag if he knew we were taking a trip. Upon arrival, Terry complained that it was unclear which side the main entrance was on, and then found it strange that the valet porte cochere leads not into the lobby but into the lower level of the convention space.
In the lobby, once we found it, Walt admired the tall shelves of Easter lilies—I said they were calla lilies, and he said, “Yes, but they’re for Easter!”—but a few paces earlier had given two thumbs down and a raspberry to a series of abstract paintings. As we made it through the casino toward the Red Cup Café, Walt likened the bronze-colored wavy oval light fixtures to “logs burning in a fire.” And not in a good way.
The Red Cup had a wait line despite loads of empty tables, but we were the third party. Terry admired the—let me get my notes out for this—“terrazzo in the zolatone-pattern floor.” Translation, I think: pretty flecks in the linoleum.
As we stood in queue and Terry disappeared to the restroom, Walt kept saying the casino looked “just like that place out by Boulder Highway. They must have the same owners.” I asked if he meant Boulder Station or Sam’s Town, and he replied, “Oh, either one.” I could almost hear M owner Anthony Marnell III screaming, “No-o-o-o-o!” but Terry came back, and we determined that Walt meant the new Eastside Cannery. That’s better, right? (Marnell does not own any other properties, let alone any of these on Boulder Highway.)
By the time we got seated about 15 minutes later—Terry insisted on a table in the area with the windows, which took a little longer—there were at least 20 parties behind us, including an insufferable loudmouth providing a Rush Room-style lecture on the Evil Obama. Call me a bigot, but I can’t stand loudmouths unless they’re gay and witty.
Once we were at our table, a new round of critique of minutiae commenced. The curvy water glasses, the planked ceiling and the coffee were praised, but a dispute erupted over the forks. Terry found them “nicely balanced” and Walt said he was “sucking gas” and that they were “way too big.” The menu bored Walt, who whined that “all these fucking menus have the same fucking things on them.” Terry noted Red Cup offered lemon poppy muffins and Vitamin Water, to which Walt responded, and I quote, “Whoop-dee-doo.”
When our food arrived, I was the only happy one. My huevos rancheros were generous and delicious, but Walt’s chocolate croissant turned out to be two hardball-wide pastries, and Terry’s bran muffin with yogurt and seasonal fruit materialized as a blueberry muffin and a bowl of blueberries. Kyle, the cute shift manager, came by to take a look after Terry inquired and realized he’d gotten the wrong food. A waiter brought the correct items shortly thereafter, but surprisingly they still charged him for his errant meal.
The meal over, Walt pretended to worry about the dogs and decided to go sit in the car, obviously an excuse to avoid accompanying Terry on the post-breakfast looky-loo tour.
Terry was almost entirely impressed by M, deeming it—no, really—“nicer than Encore, which I found totally disappointing.” He thought the swivel chairs in the sports book look real comfy, that the pool was “really spectacular” and liked “the travertine marble with stridations on walls,” whatever that is. His complaints were sensible: that there was no map in the lobby or solar panels atop the flat metal roof of the porte cochere, and that chocolate croissants at the Baby Cakes bakery are twice as big and half as expensive as what Walt got at Red Cup.
Terry and I went up to the 15th floor to see the hallways and views. Lo and behold, the housekeeping manager was coming out of an end suite. Terry talked her up and handed her his travel-agency card, so she let us take a look-see at the beautiful one-floor suite. At the window, the housekeeping lady tried to convince me the pool was shaped like an M, but I think she was a big fibber.
En route back to the elevator, we passed a room with the bill sticking three-quarters of the way out from under the door. Of course we looked. Fifty bucks for a Friday night. Not bad.
Out at the car, Walt was irked. “I was getting ready to send in a search party,” he cranked.
“No, dear,” Terry sighed. “We got to take a look at one of the big suites. You should have come. It was really something.”
Walt looked at me in the back, the two poodles back in his lap.
“Oh dear God,” he deadpanned. “The wonderfulness of it all.”
And with that, we were on our way home. The long way, of course.