I recently visited my friends Ken and Katie Craig. They used to live in Provo, but that’s no place to raise a family, so they moved to Las Vegas.
The purpose of my trip was to get away from the stresses that beset me in Provo, not the least of which is the guy at the front of Sam’s Club who wants to see my membership card before I’m even allowed in the store. (What, it’s Area 51 all of a sudden?) But it was also because I wanted to see Ken and Katie’s two adorable children, Abbie and Garren. Garren is 18 months old and understands English but doesn’t speak it, like Harpo Marx. Abbie is 3 years old and never stops talking, like a teenage girl in a movie theater. Both are supernaturally cute. Aggressively cute. Horrifically cute. They’re the cutest kids in the world. I don’t care how cute your kids are, they’re disgusting trolls next to Abbie and Garren. You just want to fry them up in a batter and eat them, they’re so cute.
Speaking of eating, one of the major things we did in Vegas was eat. The first night I was there, we left the kids with a babysitter and went to an Italian place called Buca di Beppo. They translate this as Joe’s Basement, though my research assistant/consultant/fashion adviser Josh, who speaks Italian, says another accurate translation would be Joe’s Hole, though I doubt you’d get many people eating there if they called it that.
Anyway, despite having a reservation, we still had a hard time getting into Joe’s Hole. Given the option of smoking, non-smoking or “first available,” we realized we’d be seated faster with first-available. Everyone in Las Vegas smokes, as part of the Nevada Foul Air Act, and what better way to enhance a meal than to cover it with the stench of tobacco? (I don’t understand smokers, but I know one of them is going to tell me now that from a culinary standpoint, it’s no different from drowning your food in ketchup. To which I respond, “OK. Would you mind putting out that ketchup bottle?”)
But as I was saying, Buca di Beppo is a traditional Italian restaurant. The entrees are served “family-style,” which means you have to fight over them. I enjoyed the buca, but I’ve had better beppo.
After evacuating Joe’s Hole, we saw the Blue Man Group. This is where a group of men who are painted blue do stuff. I can’t really explain what they do. Just, you know, stuff. Like this bit where it looks like regurgitated Twinkies are oozing through holes in their chests. The show costs $70, despite Las Vegas’s reputation for being an affordable, tourist-friendly town. (I’ll say this much for Vegas, anyway: It’s well-lit.)
The only gambling we did was was that Ken and Katie hired a babysitter they’d never used before. Imagine our surprise when we returned home after a night of beppo and blue men to find out she had fried Abbie and Garren in a batter and eaten them! No, I kid. The children had been neither fried nor eaten. The babysitter reported, however, that Garren had been crying for a long time and she couldn’t figure out why. She finally called her mom, who didn’t exactly have powers, over the phone, to make a baby stop crying. The babysitter, at the end of her wits (it was a short trip), finally gave Garren some milk. This made him stop crying, because his whole problem all along had been that he was hungry. She’s a genius, this girl! Get her a job at the front of Sam’s Club.
Yes: Garren was named after the Garrens Comedy Troupe. The group is how Ken Craig and Katie Fillmore met, as he was one of the original cast members and she joined during the second season. They were married in 1995, while still cast members. Since they had many fond memories of the Garrens -- not the least of which was their meeting and falling in love -- they named their little boy after the group. It's sweet, and Garren is a cool name.
Speaking of the Garrens, the Las Vegas trip discussed herein took place the weekend of March 2 -- which turned out to be the Garrens' last show before disbanding. I knew there was a good chance it would be the last show, but I went out of town anyway (as I had already planned to do), partly because I wanted to see Ken and Katie and the kids, but also partly because I wasn't feeling very sentimental toward the Garrens at this point and didn't really care whether I was in the final show or not.
This column contains a most delightful double-entendre. My editor didn't catch it, so maybe it's subtle: "Despite having a reservation, we still had a hard time getting into Joe's Hole." I giggle like a schoolgirl when I read it.