Reno isn’t Las Vegas

Reno isn’t Las Vegas

Las Vegas, when it dresses up, pretends it’s another city — New York, Venice, Rome, Paris, ancient Egypt, Circus-ville, Strato-opolis. Reno, when it dresses up, pretends it’s Las Vegas, old-timey Las Vegas. I find this tremendously endearing.

It’s just so … precious, so cute, like a younger sibling copying its big brother or sister.

But it’s a bit more down-and-dirty. I got panhandled while buying coffee in the morning inside our hotel/casino — right inside the restaurant. The guy, dressed in brand new sneakers, expensive jeans, a clean and new shirt, asked me for money for food. He’d lost everything, he said.

I didn’t give him anything. I just shook my head and stood there waiting for my order, dressed in a shirt I’d worn for the last three days, dirty shorts, sandals soles almost worn through. He stared at me in disbelief. How could I be so cold as to deny a fellow human being food? After about a minute of staring, he tried another patron. This guy gave him a fiver. The beggar took the money to get food. His total was $5.27. He went back to the guy for the 27 cents.

If he had been wearing one of those barrels with the suspenders, I would have bought him steak and eggs.

Reno is a bit like this guy — seemingly well-dressed and put together but still a little hard-up for dough and tourists.