But, the magicians haven’t cornered the market on misdirection in Vegas. It’s a recognized fact that the casinos use several techniques to keep you unaware and gambling. Bright glitzy lighting, a lack of clocks and outside windows, increased oxygen levels (for me offset by the inclusion of the blue haze of cigarette smoke), and free drinks served by attractive young ladies while you gamble. These all serve to slow the passage of time, and create a party-like atmosphere where you feel like it’s fun to give away your hard earned cash. But, I’m a people watcher, remember. Over the course of my stay, out of the thousands of people that I saw at slots, roulette wheels, and the tables, I would dare say I saw less than a dozen who truly appeared to be having fun. And even that I suspect was short lived.
However, for me the truest deceptions, the masters of misdirection, lay outside the casinos. Bright flashy screens advertised exciting shows and entertainment high in the skies, while people trampled on hundreds of advertisement cards, bearing images of young women with less secrets than Victoria. At each turn these cards were thrust at passersby, who were obliviously distracted by the glitz of the strip, in hopes to lure them to establishments predicated on the exploitation of those photographed.
Even as I found my way to the big attractions, the fountains or volcanoes, heartbreak hid itself in plain sight. People dressed in costumes, or very little costume as was often the case, fought for our attention. Their goal? To be seen, to capture the attention of the hundreds of people flowing by. That someone might stop to drop some coin in a tin can, or to take a photo with them “earning” a couple bucks. But it’s a party, right? Wait for a while. Watch his expressions. Study her non-verbals. You’ll soon see that it’s all just misdirection. Sleight of hand, or eyes, or body, anything to keep you from seeing the reality.
There was one instance where I truly saw through the misdirection. I saw the reality, and it still breaks my heart. A young woman—dressed in her, um, shall we generously say, underwear—danced at, no, on a street-side bar. I watched her face as a middle-aged man approached her with a camera. She smiled, posed, and the camera flashed. As he walked away, her expression flashed true, if only for a moment. Insecurity, shame, disgust, so many emotions in a heartbeat of time. But, the one that struck me more than any was hurt. Deep emotional pain. Not the kind that came from his obliviousness to her as a person or that he didn’t even offer her the dignity of paying her for his slap-worthy intrusion. No, I fear she was all too used to that. Rather, the pain of one whose disgust isn’t with the hundreds of passersby who feel at liberty to take her photo, but with herself for letting them. Her smile was the greatest misdirection I saw in Vegas. But, I watch people. My prayer is to see them as God sees them. And, I know His heart is broken for that young woman, because mine was.
'Till next time.