The Colosseum at Caesars Palace
Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada
Larry showed up for their first show as permanent Caesars Palace headliners earlier than normal. He wasn’t entirely sure why. He and Lenny usually arrived for an 8:30 show around six or so, and today he had walked into his dressing room a little after three.
Usually, he ate and then would walk through The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. It wasn’t his responsibility to walk through The Colosseum at Caesars Palace of course – the arena had a full-time staff whose job it was to ensure its readiness for a Regular Guy’s performance – but it comforted Larry to conduct a walk-through before each show.
Today he sat at his desk for a while and then wandered around the casino aimlessly. He then headed up to the suite Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino had provided for The Regular Guys for the week. The suite had two stories and four bedrooms and a breathtaking view of the Las Vegas Strip. Larry stood around admiring the view for a while before deciding he didn’t really belong there either and returning to his dressing room and walking out on stage to look around.
Larry wasn’t seeing anything he hadn’t seen before, of course. As one-half of The Regular Guys he had played Caesars Palace a hundred times in the past – but he took a second to look around nonetheless, as if he were, indeed, seeing it for the first time.
He was surprised to see Lenny sitting in the third row, slouched in his seat with his legs up against the back of the seat in front of him, his elbows resting on the armrests and his fingers bridged in front of him. It looked as if he were deep in thought.
Larry walked across the stage and down the stairs to where Lenny was sitting. He sat beside him, also sitting slouched with his legs on the seat in front of him.
Neither man said anything for a while.
“Well,” Lenny said after a while. “Here we are my friend, Caesars Palace.”
Larry looked at his partner.
“I know,” he said.
“And not just filling in because somebody couldn’t sing rap music. We’re it. This is our room.”
“Of course we got the room because the previous occupant banged her head on a brisket and froze to death, but yeah, it is our room.”
“You know,” Larry said. “For the first time in our career, I am actually finding something hard to believe. I mean, look at us. Look at this. Did you see our pictures on the marquee?”
“You? Finding this hard to believe? Morty thinks you have ice water in your veins.”
“Morty is wrong.”
Some more quiet.
“Larry, did you have any idea?” Lenny asked, looking around at the arena that was now theirs. “I mean, when we started…we couldn’t have known, could we?”
Larry shook his head dismissively.
“No,” he said. “There’s no way. I thought we could be pretty funny together, but headlining Caesars Palace? No, there was no reasonable expectation this would happen. Or unreasonable expectation, for that matter. I would’ve settled for making people laugh for a few years.”
Lenny laughed. That was exactly what The Regular Guys had been doing, of course.
“You know, up to a minute before we took the stage for the first time I still thought we’d munch it. I thought we’d be one and out.”
“Really? What happened during that last minute?”
“Well, I told myself it was magic time and time to be funny and to go make people laugh. It’s what I always told myself before I took the stage. Up till then, though, it didn’t always happen.”
“We actually weren’t all that bad that night.”
“Really? I don’t really remember. Everything after we took the stage is a complete blank. I do remember taking the stage though. All doubts were erased then; I felt right at home from the start.”
“I did too.”
A few moments before showtime, Lenny and Larry were standing at the entrance to the tunnel that would take them to the stage; Morty was walking towards them.
Lenny and Larry looked at each other, and then looked back at Morty.
“What the hell do you want?” Lenny asked, smiling as Morty approached. He sounded much like a teacher would address a pesky pupil.
“You don’t think he’s going to tell us not to munch it, do you?” Larry said seriously.
“Has it ever occurred to either of you that if you were as funny on stage as you were offstage you might get somewhere in this business?” Morty said. He was smiling broadly.
“Boy, we’ve never heard that line before, have we partner?” Larry said.
“He’s right, of course. We’ll never amount to anything in this business.”
Morty started to say something; Lenny, however, showed him a palm.
“Morty, how many times have you requested us not to munch it?” Lenny asked.
“I dunno. A lot?”
“Ten thousand times, if you’ve done it once.”
Morty smiled at the exaggeration.
“The first time was actually before our first New Year’s Eve show downtown,” Larry added.
“No. Actually, it was before your first show at The Sahara,” Morty said. “But your first New Year’s Eve show merited it as well. I sincerely meant it then, cause if you’d’ve munched it? Ballgame. Point, set and career. You had no idea at the time how big that was for you; and they still rank as two of your best shows.”
“And tonight?” Lenny asked significantly.
“Oh hell, you could go out and fart for an hour and they’d still love you. But indulge an old man; there is a high degree of probability this will be the last opportunity you will have to avail yourself of my wise counsel. This may well be your last opening night. Where else is there for you to open? The Second Coming?”
Both Lenny and Larry knew this question was rhetorical and did not require an answer. Which was good because both Regular Guy’s doubted they could produce a correct answer. There really wasn’t anyplace else for them to go.
Morty lowered his head and rubbed his chin with a hand as if he were a coach looking for words for his pregame speech. He was actually thinking back to the first time he had seen these two misfits on stage and how they had immediately commanded his complete and undivided attention.
“Ah, fuck it,” Morty said, throwing his hands up expansively. “Go ahead and munch it tonight. What the hell. What are they going to do, fire you?”
Larry took out his money clip and handed Lenny five dollars. The munch it over/under had been set at three and a half and Larry had taken the over.
The Regular Guys Suite
Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada
The Regular Guys’ first show as resident headliners at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace had been a complete success, as had the opening night party Lenny and Larry had hosted afterward in their suite. Early the next afternoon Larry exited his bedroom on the second floor of The Regular Guys suite, walked down the stairs and into the suite’s living room.
He found Lenny standing in front of the floor-to-ceiling window, staring down at The Strip. He was wearing a smoking jacket, had a drink in one hand, a cigar in the other, and he was wearing sunglasses.
Larry sensed he was in the presence of a man who was enjoying a moment he had long waited for, and he certainly didn’t want to block his light at such a profound time, so he kept quiet and went and sat in a chair that last night had been used by Jerry the Groupie to feel up a starlet.
After a while, Lenny turned toward Larry and favored him with a wide smile.
“Hey partner,” he said. “Look what we’ve done; not bad, eh?”
Larry took in his partner and started laughing.
“Partner, where the hell’d you get a smoking jacket?”
The smoking jacket was pure silk and deep purple and looked like it had been stolen from the throne room at Buckingham Palace. Lenny chose to ignore the question.
“It looks like we made it, partner. I’ve had feelings similar to this before, but nothing quite like this. This is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced.”
“No kidding. Heck, I thought we had it made when we opened Las VegasUSA.”
“I did too,” Lenny said. “I thought we’d reached the top of the mountain there. I mean, headlining, The Strip, a brand new hotel. What more could we ask for? It sure took long enough, though. Sheesh, I thought we’d’ve had it made in half the time.”
Larry laughed. He remembered Lenny getting impatient after they had been at it for a year or so.
“I thought the journey was supposed to be better than the destination,” Larry said.
“Who the hell espouses claptrap like that?”
“The Chinese, I think, first expressed the sentiment.”
“Uh uh. How many Chinese have taken Vegas by storm?”
“Inside or outside of brothels?”