Kermet Apio's Laugh Corner
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Greetings from Las Vegas! If you are a sponsor of NWHT, I just wanted to let you know that I am down here doing shows. The paper doesn’t spend your ad dollars flying me to Vegas to write 800 words that (if I’m lucky) will equal three chuckles and a grin. The other reason I am here is that if I don’t make it down once every fiscal year I lose my Hawaiian status. Las Vegas is Disneyland for Hawaii’s adults. But unlike Disneyland there is a 1 in 10,000 chance you might come back with money. Take that, Mickey!
Las Vegas, as you know, is an incredibly popular destination for Hawaiians. As a matter of fact, at any given time there are more Hawaii people in Vegas than on the Big Island. I’m not sure if that is exactly true because my research team consists of my five year old and her rudimentary understanding of Google.
If you want to truly experience the Hawaiian Vegas, stop by the California Hotel, or as Linda Lingle calls it, “The eastern most neighbor island.” As a matter of fact, when you check into the California you get a room key and an absentee ballot for the Aiea school levy vote. All the customers at the California are from Hawaii. Those that aren’t realize their mistake and hastily proceed across the street to Binion’s. One fun thing to do there is walk up to random women and say (loudly) “Aunty!! Hi! How you?” And then give her a hug. They will not for one minute consider they may not know you. They may, however, double their dosage of Ginseng. Oh, and don’t be surprised if you do this and the person actually turns out to be your Aunty. It happens.
The food at the California reflects the people of Hawaii as well. From Portuguese sausage breakfasts to kalua pig lunch to crab dinner, Hawaii favorites are available around the clock. And in 110 degree heat, nothing hits the spot like piping hot saimin.
The customers are mostly from Hawaii , the employees used to live in Hawaii, and the food is from Hawaii. It’s like Pearlridge with slot machines.
If you want to win money I have the sure-fire gambling tip. It’s very simple: just gamble next to me. It works every time. I spend a lot of time in Vegas turning my head and saying “Oh, congratulations!” as if I meant it. Sit there long enough I’ll give you money. Of course, I have no idea if I’m winning or not. Used to be if you got three 7’s, or three cherries, or three bars, you win. Now you have to get fish, fish, mango, newspaper, duck, and three doughnuts with the word “bonus” on them. Then you go to a video round where you choose one of the floating spaceships and birds fly out of it and form a heart shape. Then, trembling, you hit the cash out button and ask an employee what the hell just happened.
Nowadays you print a ticket to cash out. The machines no longer spit out coins that you catch with buckets. Filling buckets with nickels wasn’t convenient and it made your hands look like the hands of a coal miner who was eating fudge in a dust storm. Still, I miss it.
I don’t play table games. Eye contact scares me. Plus, there’s so much non-verbal communication in those games that I worry I would be scratching my finger and accidentally promise one month’s salary to the dealer. I noticed at the end of their shift the dealers clap once, put their hands in the air and say “Good Luck” as they walk away. It looks like the people on I-5 during the Seattle snowstorms as they abandoned their cars.
And then there are the Hawaii people that are moving there. About 7000 people move to Las Vegas every month. 76 percent of those people come directly from Waipahu, many to join the Society of Seven (which by now is actually a Society of about 448). I’m not sure if that second sentence is true because my research department had to go potty. Point is, a lot of folks from the 50th state are relocating to Sin City. These are people who like the heat but don’t like that pesky moisture that comes with it. They’re sick of the lush green mountains and rainbows and just want to be among cactus and sand. Also, they’d like to buy a house and you can get one for about the same price as a camping tent in Hawaii.
Although downtown seems to be trapped in a time warp compared to the newer hotels of the strip, I really enjoy going there purely to see people who, even if I don’t know them, are familiar. It is truly amazing that no matter when you go, other Hawaiians will be there as well and it makes it easier knowing that my money will go to help a local pay for their trip. Now if you’ll excuse me, the spaceship I chose just lasered a moose. I think I owe somebody money.
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