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Finding Love in Sin City, and Still Wearing the Bling

This little ditty of a story wraps up a drug bust, a casino, the difference between lunch and dinner, and Tiffany’s.

Years ago, when I was a reporter at Channel 13 in Las Vegas, I had a great friend and mentor, Tom Schell. Based in the L.A. bureau for ABC News, Tom came to Vegas often to cover all the big mob stories, union strikes, controversies at the Nevada Test Site, and more. One day while waiting for a perp walk (that’s when you’ve learned about a big arrest, and you’re right where you need to be, cameras rolling as the handcuffed “perp” is paraded into the courthouse) and I was lamenting to Tom that I wasn’t having much luck in my messed-up love life. Some of my federal beat sources had asked me out for dates. I wanted to maintain a great relationship with them without crossing any forbidden lines. News directors had elegant solutions if their reporters dated a source: reassignment to the education beat. No thanks. The federal beat was king in those days!

Tom gave me some great advice.

“Most of the time,” he said with a twinkle in his eyes, “lunch is business. Dinner is a date.”

I put his coaching to work right away on the beat. It worked just fine. Then one day when I was in the court clerk’s office, a print reporter named Tim Heider walked in. We’d met a couple of months earlier as competitors covering a drug bust and had become friends. I was beginning to think it should be more than that, when He asked me out – to lunch.

“No, I never have time for lunch,” I said. He looked disappointed for all of the two seconds that it took me to follow up with my best come-on line ever. “But I have time for dinner a week from this Saturday.” The Saturday of that week was Valentine’s Day. I had no date but was not about to signal that I was that big a loser, hence, the strategy to put dinner off for a week.

Fast forward, we got married a year later, and began a series of nomadic moves to different cities, well known to newsies trying to climb the career ladder.

When I was a news director at a TV station in Cleveland, I had the opportunity to attend the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Vegas. It was the week of our anniversary, so I asked Tim to come along. It was a milestone anniversary, so he announced one morning that while I was at the conference, he was going to go spend his gambling money in the casino, and then he was going to go to Tiffany’s and buy me a little something. What would I like?

I asked if he could buy me some X earrings which were designed by Paloma Picasso. “Deal,” he said when we he looked them up online. Back then, those were affordable, lol.

Now you know about the drug bust, the difference between lunch and dinner, and you’ve had a hint about where Tiffany’s comes in. More on that in a minute, but first what’s love got to do with a casino?

Rolling the Dice

We were staying at the Aladdin Hotel. You’ve heard of it; Elvis got married there. And Wayne Newton owned the place for awhile in the 80’s. But this was the year 2000 and by then the historic hotel had been demolished and replaced with a new resort. The casino was a good one – just ask Tim.

He took his gambling budget downstairs and saddled up to a poker table, and things went well – very well. That night at dinner, he’d tell me the story, and it’s a very sweet one.

“Dear God,” he told me he prayed. “Let me win enough to give this dealer a big tip, and to buy Lynn’s earrings.” Prayer answered. Tim felt good about the dealer, so he gave her a couple of C-notes and walked across the strip to Tiffany’s.

“We don’t have anymore of the X earrings in stock,” a sales associate told Tim. “But we have some that I think are prettier – they have a heart AND an X.” She misspoke when she told him the design was named, “Lynn,” – that was a different designer – but she got his attention – and all the cash left in his wallet. By the time she wrapped the earrings in Tiffany’s signature blue box with a while ribbon and put it in a giftbag, the price was exactly, to the penny, what Tim had left of his winnings.

I treasured those earrings then, and I still do.

Postscript: Over the years as we’ve grown older, there is nothing we like more than a nice meal out. It can be dinner. It can be lunch. Today was a vacation day and the weather was gorgeous. So we went to lunch. And guess which earrings I wore? Yea, those. Ok, you can't see the earrings very well, but here they are.

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