It’s a long way from South Carolina to Las Vegas. My sister doesn’t get to visit us often. So when I heard she was coming for 10 days, I began to plan.
The first five days were easy. We spent Thanksgiving in California with my children and grandchildren, fighting over who got to hold which baby for how long. Then we flew to Vegas and she settled into our guest room for five more days.
A three-hour gap in time zones kept us on different schedules. At night, she’d be surfing channels when I was ready to crash. Come morning, I’d be up drinking coffee, waiting for her to stir.
Between waking and sleeping, we did what we always do _ eat, talk and laugh. And she watched a lot of TV with my husband, a man she had once warned me about: “If you don’t marry him,” she’d said, “I will.”
He suggested taking her to The Gun Store to shoot Uzis.
“What?” I said. “She’d never do that! It costs too much.”
I wanted to take her to all my favorite places: Valley of Fire, Red Rock Canyon, Trader Joe’s.
But every morning, we’d talk over coffee. Then I’d make Dutch babies and we’d talk some more. We’d have pizza for lunch with more talk. And then it was time for dinner. Story of my life.
Finally, I said, “Let’s go see the Bellagio’s Christmas exhibit.”
“OK,” she said, “I’ll shower.”
Three hours later, we were on our way _ until I stopped for gas, sloshed gasoline all over me and had to go back to change.
When we finally got to the Bellagio, imagine my surprise to find the exhibit didn’t open until the weekend. My sister just laughed. She’s like that, easy.
“Let’s go eat,” she said.
The next day we decided to see a matinee (“Killer Elite”) at a theater I had never been to.
There are many fine, state-of-the-art theaters in Vegas. This was not one of them. It was located in a part of town you don’t see in ads, except maybe ads for tattoos or bail bonds.
My sister insisted on buying the tickets. They cost a dollar apiece. So did the hotdogs. One for me. Two for her. Two tickets, three hotdogs, five bucks. Who needs state-of-the-art?
We were early. The screen was dark. But we were not alone. Sprawled around us were a half dozen men, all sleeping. Some had backpacks and bedrolls. A few had removed their shoes.
I began to question what sort of theater this was? What if the film we were about to see was not what we expected? What if it proved to be a bit more “action packed” than we had hoped?
Never have I been so glad to see Robert De Niro’s face appear on screen. I can’t recall the plot, but the audience was riveting.
A fight broke out in back, but after several tense moments of swapping profanities, they had the courtesy to take it outside.
My sister didn’t seem to notice a patron on her right who kept beaming a flashlight on the back of her neck. I decided if it didn’t bother her, it didn’t bother me.
Halfway into the movie, a big, burly man lumbered down the aisle, plopped down beside me and began slurping popcorn.
When he leaned over to whisper in my ear, I screamed. No one, not even my own sister, seemed to notice. Or care.
“What’s the name of this movie?” he said.
I told him. He left. And I vowed to be a better person.
When the movie ended, I told my sister to hurry.
“Afraid we’ll get mugged?” she said, snickering.
“I’m more afraid of the hotdogs,” I said. “You had two.”
The good news is we were fine. The bad news is, the next day, my sister had to leave.
The measure of a time well spent is not where you went or what you did. It’s the way you smile remembering it.
Maybe next time, we’ll shoot Uzis.


  1. I believe you said your sister was from South Carolina and you are from Vegas. Wouldn’t she be getting sleeply before you do, being 2 hours ahead of you in time zones? Maybe she’s a bigger party animal that you thought. Good Column.

  2. Vicki in Monterey says

    Hello dear Sharon – just wanted to wish you blessings this Christmas and a 2012 filled with lots of family visits and joys.

    Cheers, dearGirl,


  3. What are Dutch babies?

  4. I have read you for many years. You have helped carry me through some rough spots in my life and I feel like I have been with you in some rough spots in yours. I love the way you look at life and the way you tell your stories. I have a huge box full of your clipped columns and I dare anyone to do anything with them. My family thinks I know you personally. I often make them listen to something you wrote and I often send my children a copy of one of your columns. You are one amazing person. God Bless you and your family.


    • Sharon Randall says

      Sydney, what a lovely note! Thanks so much, and all the best to you and your family!
      P.S. Tell your family you DO know me personally!

  5. Sharon,

    I wish I had been there to hear you scream. And yet, I felt as if I really were. I love your word pictures, your honesty, your love for life.


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