When I first came to Las Vegas oh so many years ago when Nirvana was a hot new act I thought Chutzpah was some kind of Chick Punk Band from Poland or Estonia. I quickly found out from the New Yorkers in this town what chutzpah and as I have often said …. brother the City of Sin has it spades
The Chutzpah of the Shameless In the City of Sin
by Royal Hopper
If you can stand in a store check out line with torn clothes covered in road dirt, smelling like pair of dirty gym sock and pretend to be fishing through the trash bag that contains your worldly possessions for correct change brother you can
perform under pressure. That is what people back east call Chutzpah.
By that definition man I saw standing at a check out counter in a convenience store in this city was a trooper of academy award winning caliber.
Perhaps he just wanted something to eat that didn’t come from a trash can or perhaps he didn’t want to get nabbed for shoplifting food. His torn barely functioning bell bottom jeans and grease smeared almost white hair indicated had seen his better days sometime around the dawn of disco, black lights and Alice Cooper. Perhaps somewhere in the test of time he had flunked the final exam.
Whatever the reason for his deception he stood in the line at this store counter under the incredulous stares of fellow patrons for several long minutes without blinking .
Also ignoring the stares of the store cashier and a delivery man he moved his meager pocket change back and forth across the counter like Sisyphus in his eternal labors .
Perhaps he was hoping that someone would lose count and mistake the 37 cents in change for the $12 or so he actually needed to but the stuff he had picked out. Perhaps was simply stalling so he could make off with his ill gotten bootie of candy bars, toothpaste and assorted curiosities when no one was looking.
Perhaps but whatever the case eventually even this residentially challenged trooper knew the game was up and no amount of Chutzpah could change the fact he had 37 cents and needed $12.
When the lone security guard assigned to keep order in this particular part of establishment walked up he did not have to say a word. The trooper was a veteran of this cat and mouse game played between security guards and the homeless all over this city hundreds of times a week.
He just shrugged and walked out of the establishment under the silent reproach of the security guard who said nothing and just let the trooper move on to his next performance, his next display of Chutzpah.
You have to admire the confidence it takes to shuffle 37 cents in assorted change around a store counter in hopes someone will lose count long enough for you to buy the $12 worth of stuff you want or need. Man what confidence what Chutzpah.
This city is full of performers with Chutzpah. It is full of performers like the man with the long gray ponytail flirting with the phony farm girls in leotard like outfits who likely later that night slipped a mickie in his fizzie grape juice and made off with his favorite pair of suede shoes and his prize disco light.
Think about the 40-year-old man who stands on Las Vegas Boulevard dressed like Sponge Bob, or Elmo or My Pretty Kitty posing for pictures with strangers to pay the bills or the man who sits on a Vegas sidewalk selling water for $1 a bottle 50 yards from a store that sells it for 50 cents…Chutzpah baby…Chutzpah.
As my many New York co-worker informed me later that year. Chutzpah is not a female Punk band from Estonia ..damn it. It simply means audacity and impudence. It means a person with the ability to steal your shotgun empty your shotgun into the neighbor’s cow and then ask both of you for a loan because you cant afford shotgun shells.
It’s kind of like the man who tried to panhandle money from the security guard who was walking. About the same time give or take a day he had to walk a man with 37 cents to his name out the casino doors this man asked for a dollar so he could play a game.
Dude Seriously. That is Chutzpah and that is life in the City of Sin.
Rock On Fellow Sinners