That's when I thought security would arrive. She was on her knees, pretending to lick William Peterson's butt. If she left any DNA behind, I would imagine the star of CSI would track her down later. Instead, he walked away without noticing. And Erica just turned to us and smiled.
As much as I would like to start in the middle, I can't (or maybe I just did). You're just going to have to wait. Pretend your playing poker in a casino and have to patiently fold 50 hands before you're dealt rockets.
It started early in the morning. About 8am, Lefty and I got up, intent on finding a chair at the Mandalay Bay to enjoy the two championship games. I put on my midnight green McNabb jersey and my brother put on his black TO jersey. We were ready for some football.
I had already decided I wouldn't bet on the Eagles. I didn't want to jinx them and I'm extremely superstitious. I decided if I would bet on anyone, it would be the Pats. They were on a roll. But my brother was betting on Pittsburgh, I'd be rooting for Pittsburgh, and I frankly don't like the Pats.
I spent the entire walk to the Mandalay Bay convicing myself to bet on Pittsburgh. They were at home, had beaten New England once already, were 6 point dogs, and were 16-1 for crying out loud!!! So I had myself convinced, and threw $40 down the drain.
We hit the sports book at about 9:30am, two and a half hours before kickoff, and there wasn't an open table to be found. We made our bets (and got our drink tickets!) and sat down to consider our options. That's when we noticed one of the tables had opened and we quickly moved in hoping they were gone for good. They were.
It was a table with five chairs and we settled in, deciding we'd tell everyone we had friends coming. We didn't want to be distracted by any non-Eagles fans.
To pass the time, we bet the races. We used the very scientific method of picking favorite names and numbers and actually hit a few exactas. Then we moved on to the very unscientific method of analyzing past races and track trends, etc... and lost all our money back. At least we finished even.
It's about a half hour to kick off when my brother leans over and says, "That's Frank Nicotero." I wouldn't have been able to remember Frank's full name, but he did look a lot like the host of that wacky TV game show, "Street Smarts."
Frank was there with his brother Greg and a couple of friends, Mesner and Derek (if Frank or his crew ever read this, please let me know if I messed up any names). They were decked out in their Steelers gear and searching for a place to sit. Finally, Frank stopped at our table to see if they could join us. My brother was more than pleased to invite them to sit. And I didn't mind either once they assured us they were also rooting for the Eagles.
I'm gonna stop right here and tell you just how cool of a guy Frank is. Sure, he's no super-celebrity, but he's well enough known to be noticed, especially in Vegas where "Street Smarts" is widely syndicated. He and his friends were very cool and could have fit in with just about any crowd I've ever hung with.
The Eagles game was rather uneventful. Except for the fact my team had FINALLY made it to the Super Bowl!!!!!!! I couldn't have been more excited, and I'm not sure I've ever been so excited about a sporting event. But that's all I'll say about that game for now.
And that's when the craziness started...
Late in the fourth quarter, Frank, Mesner and Derek went to check into their hotel. Greg stayed with us, vowing to protect the chairs unless some attractive women showed. It didn't take long...
Monica came over and asked if she and her friend could have our empty chairs. We quickly said yes. They were long-legged, Rotherliesberger jersey-clad vixens. Monica's friend introduced herself as Big D. Apparently her name was Denise, and Monica later told us her real nickname is Sissy. Sounds like a witness protection kind of thing, and that wouldn't have surprised me.
By this time, the alcohol had been flowing. The nameless server girls from our last trip to the sports book were there again and didn't seem to care how many tickets we had. Until the shift change. That's when the new girl seemed to bristle at the idea we didn't really have enough tickets. I thought it would be a problem before she returned with plenty of drinks and enough tickets to cover us for the next 12 hours. What a girl...
Monica and Sissy seemed to have plenty of energy and I worried things might get out of hand. That's when Erica showed up, and things did get out of hand.
Erica was 5 feet of dynamite. What she lacked in long legs, she more than made up for in a brilliant smile and a body that knocked you over. She was also wearing her Rothliesberger jersey and was intent on cheering as loudly as possible for the Steelers.
The "Let's go, Steelers!" chants started long before kick-off and they came from our table. It didn't take long for the spirits of the most Steelers fans to damper, as the Pats jumped out to a 10-0 lead, and 24-3 lead by halftime, but Erica and her girls, and Frank and his crew were buoyed by plenty of alcohol.
Early in the day we noticed William Peterson, star of TV's #1 show CSI, was there with a few other people from the show. They had better seats than us, but I suspect we were having a much better time. At one point, William stepped up to the bar to get a drink where an apparent CSI fan engaged him in a conversation. That's when Erica made her move.
She slowly stepped up behind William and began pretending as though she was smacking his ass. She danced to a song, apparently in her head, using William as her drum. We were 10-feet away and couldn't believe what we were seeing. William may play a detective on TV, but he's clueless in real life.
That's when Erica decided she wasn't finished. She got down on her knees, in the middle of the sportsbook and acted as though she was licking Williams' butt. We erupted in laughter, but that still didn't get his attention. Instead, he just walked away and Erica came back over the to the table with a smile as wide as the Patriots lead.
I think it was about that time that the third round of shots arrived (it was Jager for the guys and tequilla for the ladies) and about that time Erica decided she knew how to change the Steelers luck.
(Those with modest sensibilities should stop reading now.)
"When the Steelers score a touchdown, I'm going to lick Monica and Sissy's 'cooters,'" Erica announced.
We sat, stunned.
I'm not sure we had collectively been that silent since about 10 that morning.
"Well, over the jeans, of course. Maybe more if they win!"
Apparently she felt that addendum would make it seem like a much more reasonable declaration to make in the middle a casino.
At 11:05 of the 3rd quarter, Jerome Bettis finally crossed the goal line, and I think it was me who said, "Promises are promises..."
I won't go into detail what happened next, but imagine in your minds Erica fulfilling that promise.
And that's about when security arrived. I didn't realize that was necessarily something that got you kicked out of the casino. I'd imagine the 24 cameras I could see from my seat were all trained on my table. As Erica was carded, she had some rather choice words for the security guy. Words that would have gotten you or I thrown to the curb. Instead, cute, little Erica got to stay. That was okay with me.
I think that's when the insanity peaked anyway. The alcohol was starting to get to people, expecially the ladies who were having trouble putting complete sentences together. Sissy was worried she had made a $200 with the Pats fans at the table in front of us. Monica was fading fast. And Erica... well, to be honest, she was still being Erica.
Despite some late charges, Pittsburgh never really got back into the game. I felt sorry for Frank and his crew, who really wanted to see the Steelers in the Super Bowl and who had a lot more money on this game than we did.
When the game finally ended, we said our good byes, and on the walk back to the casino my brother and I discussed whether or not we had really experienced what we thought we had experienced. It was one of those surreal experiences you'll never have again.
I doubt the words I've written can truly capture the sheer lunacy of that day, but I tried. I also have a feeling the tales of poker and gambling I have left will pale in comparison.