Dinner was over, and Chas and I were comfortably full and happy. We glided back down to the main floor, our senses shocked, as the elevator doors opened, by the sounds and smells of a very full and bustling Indian casino.
As we threaded our way through the throngs and the pinging machines, Chas yelled in my ear that he had never actually played slots before.
Okay, now I was on a mission. Quarter, quarter, penny, HERE! Nope, false alarm, that's another quarter . . . ah, here's a nickel! We were standing among nickel slots. Now, lemme see . . . where's the coin slot? No coin slot. Oh, a bill feeder -- I get it. Chas pulled out a dollar and fed it in. 20 credits -- go!
20 credits -- gone. Well, not quite. 20 isn't divisible by three, and the machines bet three nickels at a time. When you get down to your last dime -- literally -- you are issued a paper credit which you have to cash in if you want the dime. I couldn't imagine what it would feel like to claim ten cents. I wouldn't let him cash it in even if he'd wanted to; I wanted the souvenir.
By now it was almost time to find the concert venue. We were early, but neither of us really likes gambling, so we might as well go in. We found our seats and watched people until the show started.
The show -- wow! What a performer Al Green is. After thinking about it for a few days I realized it was just as much tent revival as concert, and audience participation was just as much a part of the night as music. Now in his 60s, Reverend Al can't sing nonstop and full throttle as I believe he used to do, so he paced his show nicely to give his voice breaks. He frequently interrupted his own singing to rally the audience, or tease us, or change things up -- all, I'm sure, to pace his voice. You would, too, if you were famous for a dolphin-frequency squeal that even my 4-year-old daughter couldn't do. That's gotta hurt, but you know what? Reverend Al can still do it! And he did it again and again.
Grandma is just getting the kids to sleep now . . . wonder if they brushed their teeth . . .
Al did all the hits you'd want him to -- Tired of Being Alone, Let's Stay Together, Let's Get Married, How Can You Mend a Broken Heart, and Here I Am -- and ended with Love and Happiness. He threw in a few bars of the most unexpected version of Amazing Grace I've ever heard, playing it in a S - L - O - W 12/8 time, and pretty much letting the audience figure it out and take it over, before he charged off in another direction. I missed only Call Me and I'm Still In Love With You from his big, big hits. But he did a kind of medley of great soul/R&B songs from the early 70s that were as good as or better than the originals. His version of Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On was the best I've ever heard, because he leaned on and almost acted out the words; it was like I heard them for the first time.
His band was as good as they could be. There were 10 musicians, including a horn section; two female back-up singers; and two very young men dancing on alternate songs. Green began featuring each of the players on the first song, which I've never heard any performer do, but again I think it had more to do with resting his voice than anything. Still, he was a generous and appreciative band leader, which brings me to my last observation: he wore white gloves on stage. I was transfixed trying to figure out what he was going to do with those, until I realized that he was doing it already: he was actually leading the band, not just fronting it, and the gloves ensured that his hand signals could be seen against the hot stage lights. The man directed, choreographed and controlled everything that happened, and he knows what he's doing. I'd go see him again in a heartbeat.
Chas and I had fun making silly comments to each other throughout, as usual, only it wasn't easy, since we had to yell into the other's ear. At one point we both swooped in to make the same observation at the same moment, cracking skulls in spectacular graceless fashion. Nerdy parents really shouldn't be allowed out on dates.
Poor Reverend Al was losing his voice from the air conditioning, and after an hour and a quarter or so, maybe a little more, the show was over. We joined the milling crowds pouring onto the escalator back up to the slot machines, and the date was over.
We didn't get lost on the way home, our babysitter didn't invite her boyfriend over for the evening, we weren't pulled over for speeding, and there was no awkwardness about a goodnight kiss. Other than that little lingerie debacle in the bathroom, how could I have done better than that?