Post-boxing career, the doorman working the front of the casino eagerly awaits his next opportunity to be of service.
The doorman's name?
“Welcome,” Mao says. “Welcome.” It sounds an awful lot like he’s saying “Meow, meow,” but that’s to be expected. The doorman's a cat, after all, and as an ex-boxer he’s taken more than one blow to the head.
And then there were the drugs, of course, but even without them, language was never his strong suit.
“I been here since, what?, oh-five? oh-six? I can’t bemember.”
Mao can’t bemember because the catnip that ended his career – the explosively addictive “Meowie Wowie” – has reduced this hulking, semi-literate knuckle of a cat to a hulking, semi-brain-damaged knuckle of a cat.
Mao rocks from one hind leg to the other, thoughtfully, his shining emerald eyes on the front door. His front paws dangle heavily as a smile forms, the result of my question.
“Do I regret the drugs? No – I mean, yeah. Sure I do.”
He sighs, wistfully. “I miss them old days.”
Plucked, passed out and crawling with fleas, from the parking lot of a convenience store on the outside of Las Vegas in 2005, the sympathetic owner of Satellite Simba gave Mao a job, a small room off the kitchen, and a tux.
Mao has never looked back.
“I can’t undo what’s happened, ya know? I can only live for –" He steps forward to open the door for a group of under-dressed young women. "Welcome! Welcome!”
Mao has not missed a minute of work since his first day on the job and can now say “welcome” in several languages.
“Selamat Datang!” he exclaims, reading from where he has the word inked onto his palm. “That’s my favorite “welcome” word. Those Malaysians, they heavy gamblers, man. I like them. You ask them, they tell you: they look for me. They know Mao gonna treat 'em right.”
Mao smiles sweetly.
“You come back, any time," he says. "I’ll bemember you ‘cause that’s what I do – I just bemember the customers." Mao opens the door again and a group of smiling tourists enter.
Eight in Some: Sunday, February 18
13 hours ago