As we made our way past the tri-level chandelier that is the signature of Vegas’ newest playground, two grouches provided decidedly different reactions. Terry, eyes agog, stepped back several paces to marvel. And Walt?
“All they need in this fucking thing is a fortune teller,” he harrumphed. “Now come on, Terry, I’m hungry.”
The ritual was off to a roaring start. Terry and Walt are The Olds, a couple for 35 years, locals for 30 years and, most important, doting adoptive gay grandparents to me since 1996. They’re generous, wise, nosy and maddening, devotees of the Gore Vidal era of cutting gay wit.
The Olds do this endearing thing: They eat at every new casino on the first Saturday it is open. Only this explains why I rode in a minivan with The Olds, their neighbor Frank and The Olds’ two poodles to the Cosmopolitan at 7:30 a.m. on the Jewish God’s blessed day of rest.
The fun began in self-park. The major topic of discussion: why rubber foam is wrapped around the pillars where the aisle designations ought to be readable. Walt, an accomplished painter whose work was among those made into streetside flags for the Vegas Centennial, harrumphed that the much-touted graffiti art in the garage elevator banks made the place “look like a whorehouse.”
Both Olds harrumphed upon entering the resort that the public-space music was crushingly loud. Sure, the Cosmo aims for a cool-kid demo, but Terry reasonably noted the sound level and music selection should be different at 8 a.m. than 10 p.m. To Cosmo’s credit, our waiter heard the complaint and lowered the volume of the speakers in the restaurant.
Walt was in a particularly terrible mood. He’s 85 and increasingly impatient. He kept harrumphing he’d been there before, which is likely, in all seriousness, part of real dementia with which we now contend. Another possibility, however, is that he was confused because the design aesthetic is similar to that of CityCenter and M Resort.
Still, Walt wasn’t wrong that his toasted English muffin was cold and hard. Both Terry’s Parisian plate—including an equally hard, cold croissant and no accompanying jam or butter—and Frank’s Eggs Benedict—with hard-boiled eggs?!—were bummers, too. Only my warm, spongy quiche was satisfying. Service felt slow, but now I look at the receipt time stamp and believe Walt’s irritability just made the meal interminable. Our bill was $64 plus tip; no charge for the crappy English muffin.
It gets better. Ascending the chandelier escalators, Walt actually saw something he liked, the glowy, brown-and-yellow stained-glass ceiling capping the third floor. I persuaded him to inspect the many antique sewing machines in the AllSaints clothing store windows, and that elicited sweet anecdotes about his grandmother.
Meanwhile, Terry, a 66-year-old travel agent, seemed totally smitten. Many details intrigued him, from an exposed-bulb chandelier at the Henry to small slot-machine banks nestled inside circular curtains of hanging rope to “the totally eclectic collection of mid-modern furniture” in the third-floor public spaces. Both Olds mugged for pictures with the giant red shoe in the convention corridor and Terry sat cross-legged in the middle of the sculpture of a circle of giant dogs. He even eyed a set of banquettes along the Strip-side window of the Henry as a future site for his business group breakfasts. The Cosmo “is the kind of place designed around the young club set, but it’s definitely welcoming for older folks who want to observe what the kids are into,” he said.
Walt was less charitable. “That place bores the hell out of me,” he harrumphed.
It’s tough to draw broad conclusions from this foray, but here’s the best I got: The food service at the Henry needs work, but you’ll probably like the look of the place. Well, unless you’re a senile octogenarian. Then you might want to stay in the car with the poodles.