When we last left the saga of Jamie’s Big Trip to Vegas, I had offered to tell the story of how I almost ruined the entire trip at the last moment. You’ll recall (if you have a very good memory) that we went to Vegas so that Jamie could see the Cirque du Soleil show, “Love,” based on the music of the Beatles, and that Jamie had been looking forward to this trip for well over six months.

OK, so when we got to our room in Planet Hollywood, conscientious dad that I am, I checked the in-room magazines to see what else would be going on in Vegas -- besides the usual vices -- while we were there. And lo! It just so happened that on that very weekend, something called the Fest for Beatles Fans would be meeting in Vegas. My initial reaction was something like “meh,” but then I saw that there would be a Beatles cover band, “Liverpool,” who, in honor of the fortieth anniversary of the release of the White Album, would play the record in its entirety (almost) during their shows. (I’m guessing that “Revolution # 9" accounted for the “almost” in this promise.) “Hey, Jamie, check this out,” I said, pointing him to the magazine’s promotional article about the band. “We could go and see these guys before we go to ‘Love’ -- they’re in the same hotel and everything.”

“Cool!” Jamie replied, snatching the magazine out of my hands and devoting his attention to a picture of the early Beatles in the studio, whose captions was something like “Liverpool recreates the sound of the four lads from Liverpool.”

Tickets to the thing would be $60 each, which I considered a bit much, but hell -- we’d come all the way to Vegas, and it didn’t seem to make much sense to back off from a Beatles fans’ convention if it was just down the street. So I told Jamie we’d try to get there around 8, catch the band, and then head over to “Love” for the 10 pm show.

For much of the rest of the day, Jamie chattered about the “four lads.” At first I didn’t understand him, but after a few patient repetitions on his part (“Michael, the four lads from Liverpool"), I got the idea, and I assured him that yes, we would be seeing the four lads. Since Jamie has seen the cast of Beatlemania four or five times (they come out to State College every summer), I imagined that he thought Liverpool would be something similar. I was a bit taken aback when Jamie, upon his arrival at the Mirage Hotel, went up and asked the concierge if the “four lads” would be in the hotel that evening, but I winked at the concierge and explained that Jamie was going to the Fest, whereupon he assured Jamie, with a wink to me, that the four lads would be here shortly.

But when we finally got to this Fest, we had some bad news: the band wouldn’t be going on until 9:30, too late for us to catch them. Jamie took the news hard; I suggested that we could come back the next night for the band’s last show (despite the fact that we had to catch a 7 am flight the morning thereafter), but Jamie was crushed that the four lads weren’t there right that moment.

“Where are they?” he asked, slumped on a couch in the lobby.

“Well, they don’t go on until 9:30, sweetie, just like the man said. . . .”

“No,” he replied abruptly. “Where are the Beatles? Why aren’t they here?”

And then a horrible thought came to me: somehow, between the Fest and Beatlemania and that picture in the in-room magazine, Jamie had gotten the idea that the Beatles themselves would be coming to Las Vegas.

“Jamie,” I said, slowly and incredulously. “Are you talking about John and Paul and George and Ringo?”

“Yes,” he said. “Where are they?”

I took a breath. Gently, I put my hand on his shoulder and said, “Jamie, you do know that John and George are dead. You know that.”

He nodded, but a little reluctantly, it seemed. Perhaps he had managed to convince himself that a Beatles convention would undo all that, that the four lads would all be here, in their twenties, playing the White Album (almost) in its entirety. I didn’t know how to begin to deal with this.

“Where are Paul and Ringo?” he said, scaling back his hopes.

“They’re probably with their families, sweetie. They’re not coming to Las Vegas -- but there will be a band playing their music.”

“But why are they not coming?”

“It’s not that kind of thing, Jamie. It’s a meeting for all these Beatles fans, and the band will be like Beatlemania, you know, playing Beatles songs. But no, Paul and Ringo aren’t coming out here tonight.”

Jamie practically curled into himself, so crushed with disappointment was he. And for my part, I felt hideously awful: I’d taken our big trip, our extravagant Vegas Vacation to see an amazing Beatles show, and I’d somehow managed to do the one thing that could possibly have eclipsed Cirque du Soleil in Jamie’s eyes. I’d somehow led him to believe that the four lads themselves would be joining us that evening.

“Come on, good kid,” I said, trying to rally. “I’ll buy you a soda at the Revolution lounge.”

“Okay,” Jamie said in the most disconsolate manner imaginable. But the soda didn’t cheer him up. And now what we were going to do to kill an hour before the “Love” show? We walked around the lobby a bit, I showed Jamie how to blow a quick five bucks in a slot machine, and we got another soda. But after half an hour Jamie had had enough. “Michael,” he said dejectedly, “let’s just go back to our hotel.”

“Oh, no, Jamie,” I replied. “You don’t really want to go back, do you?”

“Yes I do.”

“And miss the ‘Love’ show? We can’t do that.”

“I don’t want to go. Let’s go back.”

Well, now I was at the point of complete despair. I pointed out to Jamie that we’d spent six months planning and talking about and looking forward to this trip, and that the show was only thirty minutes away, and that he would absolutely, positively love it and would never forget it for years and years. I gave him the biggest hug he would tolerate (he is a teenager, after all) and told him how very, very sorry I was about the four lads and how very, very sorry I was that I didn’t explain about the Fest earlier, and that I never thought for a moment that he would think the Beatles themselves would be here (but then I dropped that part, because it seemed that Jamie was beginning to feel a secondary remorse about having thought such an unlikely thing). And after another ten minutes of trying to cheer him up and salvage the whole dang trip, I got him to the point where he was at least willing to get in line with the crowd of people already milling around the “Love” theater and buzzing excitedly about what was going to be the highlight of the evening for everyone who hadn’t imagined that the four lads themselves would magically appear at the Mirage.

As I promised long ago, the story ends well. Jamie gradually came back from the abyss, and warmed to the spectacle of everyone milling around the “Love” theater. He was thrilled, and rightly so, that we had fourth-row seats (which is why we were at the 10 pm show in the first place -- Jamie has a fear of heights, and there were no orchestra seats available for any of the 7 pm shows that week). And he absolutely, positively loved the show itself, which was stunning (except for the “Lady Madonna” sequence, which was just weird) and will never forget it for years and years. Even though his father almost ruined the whole trip at the last moment.

We went back the next morning to shop in the Love store and give Jamie some time to cavort in the lobby with the four lads. (The first one of those pix is now my screen saver.)

Oh, and one last thing. Yeah, I know this post has nothing to do with the election. I apologize for being so self-indulgent -- it’s just my life and all. But I’ve gotta say I’ve been getting a wee bit annoyed lately whenever the pro-life folk get to thinking that they have some proprietary relation to Down syndrome. Why, sometimes the MSM buys into this as well, as when Time magazine described Sarah Palin as “pro-life in practice as well as in theory” because “she recently gave birth to a son that she knew would have Down Syndrome.” Yes, I know everyone has moved on to other things with Gov. Palin, like all of that under the umbrella of job creation. But guess what? Janet and I are pro-choice in theory and practice. And if you choose to have a child with Down syndrome, we’ll support all the educational, medical, and vocational programs you and your kid will ever need. Though you have to take your kid to Vegas on your own dime. You know, in order to preserve the integrity of our free market system. Try to get a good package deal.

Oh, and one last last thing. It has occurred to me over the past year that I might just be the worst co-blogger ever to besmirch the internets. “Sporadic” and “desultory” doesn’t even begin to get at it. So I’ve decided to re-open the old blog for, oh, I dunno, a little while at least. Maybe I’ll even keep it up til the end of the year. You can find the thing here, if you’re so inclined. Amanda, Jesse, Pam, and Auguste, thanks again for the trip to Pandagonia, and best wishes to you all!