The Mallow Cup Discussion


"Everyone was doing it," he said.
My sweet Sven and I were sitting on our living room couch.
He was telling me a story.
"There were points inside the wrappers that went anywhere from five to one hundred. You could add them together. And when you got up to hundred points they gave you a free one."
"Mmmm-hmmm," I said. "And how old were you?"
"I think I was about ten."
"Did you like those things?" I asked, never having been a fan of Mallow Cups myself.
"They were okay," he answered.
And then last week, six decades later, I dropped Sven and his old friend Will, at the airport.
They were excited, adorable and headed to Vegas, baby!
"What are those two going to do in Vegas?" people started asking.
You see, Sven and Will are not your typical high rollers.
"Did you ever open a cup that had one hundred points?" I asked.
"Yeah. One time," Sven answered.
"That must have been exciting."
"It really was," he said. "Because I usually just got five or ten."

Will, moved to Thailand twelve years ago. He has since married a beautiful young woman over there and he has two children on the other side of the world. But of course, he comes back state side to catch up with his kids, grandkids and friends on this side of the globe. And since he and Sven go way back and they are made of the same stuff Sven said, "Yes," when Will invited him on a trip.
"I want to see the parts of America that I've missed," said Will.
"They quit the Mallow Cup game," Sven told me. "It was probably illegal because it was really addicting."
By the time Sven and Will landed and were checked into the Flamingo, they were exhausted.
"It was like traveling by covered wagon," Will told me.
"Your flight was bumpy?" I said.
"No. It just took forever."
And then I learned of their first adventure.
"I didn't know it was legal in Nevada," I remember saying.
"It's complicated," they both answered. "That's what the guy at the tobacco store told us."
But, instead of making a purchase right there at the tobacco store where it seemed a little pricey, they hoofed it a mile and a half in one direction, down the way and off the strip.
"Everything looks closer than it is," said Will.
"We only saved about two bucks," Sven told me later. "And I had to wait out on the curb, because I didn't take my ID with me."
"Why didn't you have your ID?"
"I wasn't driving."
"And Will was in there for a half an hour trying to pick one out."
They found their way back to their hotel and pretty much crawled into bed.
"What? Did you at least stop at one slot machine on your way back?" I said.
"You know Millie, I have never been one for gambling," said Sven. "When I was a senior in high school, I was in a curling tournament in Portage. And there was a lot of downtime between matches. So, everyone was hanging out in the club house playing cards to kill time. It was only a nickel a hand."
"I lost a dollar sixty-five that afternoon."
"I hated that."
Will and Sven's second day led them over to Freemont.
"The hardest part for us old guys were making arrangements to get around," said Sven. "There are cabs, Ubers and buses to choose from. Will was on his phone ordering a couple bus passes. I heard the whole conversation. The options were a two-hour pass for six dollars or a twenty-four-hour pass for eight."
"Mmm-hmmm," I said.
"He ordered the six dollar passes."
"I don't know what he was thinking. Because first of all we had to wait for a bus to even show up. And then the bus we got on wasn't air conditioned. It was broken. And it was ninety-five degrees outside."
"And one hundred and six degrees inside."
"Sounds awful."
"We transferred to another bus."
"What did you guys do once you got downtown?"
"We were running low on time. So, we mostly just walked around. There were people zip-lining over us. And there was a guy laying on the ground with a sign that said, MOVE ME AND I WON'T MOVE."
"What does that even mean?"
"I thought it meant that you couldn't make him move. But that wasn't it. It meant that whatever position you moved him into, he would stay in that position until someone else moved him into another position."
"Oh. Did you move him?"
"No. But while we were watching a man walked over and twisted him up like a pretzel giving the crowd the finger."
That's about all I know about their first day in Sin City, other than while Will was downing a bag of those little powdered sugar donuts outside a convenient store, Sven was gulping a twenty-four ounce can of beer.
"The twenty-four-ounce size was on sale," he said.
The next day was a full day and also their last day.
It began with a plane ride over the Grand Canyon.
"It was really cool," Sven said. "Very impressive."
"Did you take any pictures?" I asked.
After the plane ride came a guided tour of the Hoover Dam.
"Millie, it was incredible. They had to pour so many tons of concrete to make the base of the dam that it would have taken more than one hundred years for it to cure," he told me. "It goes in hot you know. So, they had to shoot cold water down there along with it."
"Did you take any pictures?"
"Do you have any pictures?"
And then he showed me two of the same view looking up at the sky through the bars of the Ferris Wheel outside their place.
"I was trying to get a shot of just how immense the thing was," he said.
"Sven, did you even gamble one dollar?"
"Did Will?"
"Yeah. He bought two ten-dollar chips."
"Holy moly."
"He waited until a cute Asian dealer that he had his eye on got a blackjack. Then he sat down at her table."
"That was pretty smart."
"And then she got two more black jacks in a row."
"He was back in our room in about two minutes.
"Did you two ever get irritable with each other?"
"Not quite," Sven said. "But we are just a couple of old irritable guys."

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"You know Millie, a long, time ago at the He Man Women Haters Weekend, Will and I were in a big card game called over under. The stakes kept getting higher and higher and everybody kept dropping out and going to bed. It was late. Will and I were the only two left. And that last hand was worth over a thousand dollars."
"Oh my God. What happened?"
"We sat there holding our cards.
"And then I told him that I could write him a check if he won. And then he told me that he could write me a check if I won."
"And then?"
"And then we decided to just call it quits and we threw in our cards."

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