“They are going to be encamped near Brighton; and I do so want papa to take us all there for the summer! It would be such a delicious scheme, and I dare say would hardly cost anything at all. Mamma would like to go too of all things! Only think what a miserable summer else we shall have!”
“Yes,” thought Elizabeth, “that would be a delightful scheme indeed, and completely do for us at once. Good Heaven! Brighton, and a whole campful of soldiers, to us, who have been overset already by one poor regiment of militia, and the monthly balls of Meryton.” Lydia and Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 39
Last Friday as my airplane descended and touched the Las Vegas runway, my thoughts were far from the rain and damp of my Seattle home, and focused on the weekend ahead with friends. No work, no Jane Austen, no reality! I had entered that sacred American fun-town tagged Sin City, where nothing sensible had to happen. I felt like Lydia Bennet entering Brighton without a care in the world, and only enjoyment before me. La!
It has been 20 years since my last visit to the city that never sleeps, and she has had more than a Beverly Hills nip and tuck. Gone are the original casinos; the Flamingo, The Desert Inn and The Dunes, – all blown to bits with true Vegas fanfare. In fact, she is totally unrecognizable to anyone who grew up on snap shots of their parent’s in evening cocktail attire and tales of dinner shows headlining the Rat Pack flanked by showgirls. The city’s re-birth is as amazing as its frenetic pace. There is so much re-building about that the best may be yet to come.
So what does my Vegas weekend have to do with Jane Austen you ask? Nothing … I thought! I had, after all, traveled to a town that is the Gretna Green of North America, where social connections and money can open any door, and young ladies also choose not to wear underwear underneath their frocks! Not much difference you think? Just one lively society transferred to another, right?
If Vegas is the Brighton of its day, I totally understand why Kitty Bennet was so distraught not to be included with her sister Lydia in the invitation by the Forsters to go to Brighton. Vegas is truly a town designed to amaze and delight. Sadly I did not see any officers in uniform, nor did I find any Jane Austen themed slot machines, but that in no way suspended my pleasure.
Holidays are never quite long enough, parting from friends is bittersweet, and the trip home always seems to be wrought with flight delays. As I waited at the airport to depart for home I took up my book, Mr. Knightley’s Diary, and commenced reading to pass the time. Just when I thought that four days had transpired Austen-less, who as of late is ‘everywhere’, I hear a woman’s voice asking to beg my pardon! (Oh, H E double hockey sticks I say to myself) I look up and in the row of chairs directly across from me is a lady wildly waving her book and yahoo-ing at me. I recognized the cover. We are reading the same book! We nod in acknowledgement like members in some secret society.
Las Vegas is truly a city of sin and sensibility!