Lessons from Going to the NFR

A trip to Las Vegas in 1998 for the National Finals Rodeo was an educational experience for my husband and me. May our lessons help other couples in planning their trip to the NFR.

 Lesson #1 Get pre-conditioned to sleep deprivation, overstimulation, and being inseparable. My spouse and I weren’t used to total togetherness, going to bed extremely late and nonstop activities. Be advised that within 48 hours of a shortage of sleep, tempers can flare up.

 Lesson #2 Hold hands. In 1998, my husband and I didn’t own flip phones—we left the bag phone at home. Holding hands might sound romantic, but we did it to keep from getting separated.

 Our first Vegas fight took place surrounded by people at the Thomas & Mack Center. We split up to use the restroom before finding our seats for the rodeo and when I came out I couldn’t find my husband or see over the mass of people. There were black cowboy hats like his everywhere so I spent several minutes trying to spot him but he found me first. We were both so mad that what followed was a verbal collision over whose fault it was for getting separated and we didn’t care who heard us.

 Neither my husband nor I would back down to acknowledge a young bachelor friend who approached us, for fear of losing ground in our argument of blame. Minutes passed while our smirking friend witnessed our bickering—amused I’m sure—before we finally stopped quarreling to talk to him. After that, my husband held my hand everywhere we went except for the trip home.

 Lesson #3 After 3-4 days in Vegas, consider riding the elevator separately or choose a designated button pusher. What we call “The Elevator Story,” is our most memorable Vegas fight.

 I had our hotel’s second floor button programmed into my head because we’d gotten used to getting off the elevator on that floor. By the third day I began to lose all concentration due to sleep deprivation and overstimulation but even rummy-tired I could still push the second floor button like a robot.

 On day five we were in a hurry getting to the airport to fly home and needed to get off the elevator at ground level but I accidentally pushed the second floor button and we had to ride the elevator through all the floor stops. Instead of keeping my finger away, my husband watched me push the same wrong button two more times so that the elevator kept bypassing the ground level floor for another round of stops. When it finally reached the lobby, my husband ejected himself from the elevator.

 Lesson #4 The last lesson is to never leave your partner at the gate. My dawdling to get a coffee triggered a third dispute. While I was gone, our flight started boarding. My husband was considerate enough to wait for me but when I returned, I knew leaving was a mistake. I watched our luggage take a beating as he quickly and carelessly dragged it down the steps to our small plane.

 What we learned the most from our trip is that marriage is like an elevator. It consists of a lot of ups and downs. In general, it’s a pleasant experience as long as

Column originally published November 29-Dec. 5, 2009

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