Vegas, Baby! – A Poem by Wendy Hudson

Her skirt is so short, she has to bend carefully at the knees to deliver

free drinks to her customers. The flashing lights, the ringing, ringing, ringing, and the buzz

of the casino render her almost invisible, a small part of sensory overload. Some see

the hand with polished nails, Dior Red, place the glass with the pink stir stick

in front of them, others stare at the cleavage, and some gaze

upon the legs up to there. But most are hypnotized by the slot machines, busied

with three fingers: a cigarette in two and one hovering and striking

the flashing buttons, hoping for the big win. Everybody knows the booze is

on the house. Tip? Well, eighteen percent of zero is zero. Some think that a wink

or pat or a thank you is enough. She’s used to it now. She is used to the blue-haired ladies with

gravelly voices and good fortune, the clueless tourists, the lecherous conventioneers. Still, she

hopes when a patron wins big, he’ll remember her. Most

of the time he doesn’t. Once in a while, someone is generous. It lifts

her hopes, at least for a few fleeting moments. She no longer notices the lack of natural

light or the recycled air that seems low in oxygen but high

in optimism. Every day second-hand smoke fills her lungs, hope invades

her brain for that next show audition.

What are the odds?

Author commentary:

This poem came into being as I watched a beautiful young woman serving drinks in a Vegas casino. I was reminded once again of the wide range of indignities and sexist expectations women face every day, especially as they pursue their careers. It is an invitation to see, to discuss, and to work together for change to create an equal and just world for all women.

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