Icringe whenever someone asks, “So, where are you from?” I know the next few minutes of conversation by heart. “Las Vegas? Oh, I didn't know anybody lived there. ” I shrug my shoulders. But the second question always follows, “So what was it like growing up in Vegas?” I never know what to say. I could bring up stories people want to hear, of my sister Sukey baby-sitting me backstage of a Liberace show in between her dance numbers, or how I went to schoolwith the mob's offspring, or the tacky grass shack bar with its blue rainwater fountain we had in our living room. Maybe people just want me to entertain them with a discussion of the conceptual meaning of Vegas.
Instead, hoping to end the conversation, I finally come out with: “Growing up in Las Vegas was, well, normal. ” Then I change the subject, because the Las Vegas imagery that comes to most people's mind is far removed from the barren landscape I remember.
Besides, it depresses me to be reminded that the desert where I collected lava rocks as a kid has since sprouted into four exclusive golf courses; that the mesa where coyotes howled is now condos; or that corporate kings stuffed dynamite into the Dunes Hoteland Casino, destroying the site of my senior prom. It is only since my hometown has become a worldwide phenomenon, and since people have started chuckling when I tell them where I was born, that I have realized that most people think there is something peculiar about growing up in Las Vegas. The fact is, I didn't know it was any different. I think my family expe-