Installment 1, New Orleans

August 14, 2010

Well. It’s like this.

I got here and waited for my checked bag at the carousel. And waited. And waited. And it had traveled elsewhere without me.

So I came on to the hotel. They had my room ready early — noonish, when I got here. So I whooshed up to the 44th floor (sumbitch won’t flood, comes the hurricane, anyhow), stuck my key in the door, tried the handle….nothing.

H’mm, sez I. Tried it again, tried the handle, still nothing. Took a deep breath, stuck the card in the door one more time, heard a click. Aha, I sez. Commenced to open the door, which seemed to open with a surprising minimum of effort on my part.

That would be because a blonde chick was opening it from the other side. A blonde chick I Did Not Know, and with whom I certainly had not planned to spend the weekend. Wasn’t my type, don’t’cha know.

Not to mention I must have interrupted something, because she seemed Not At All Happy to have to come to the door and converse with a total stranger.

Get over it, sistah. I don’t even know you, don’t much like you, and am not studying breaking up your hot New Orleans rendezvous.

Back downstairs. New room, two doors down from Ms. Blonde’s room. Key works, room is clean, and empty.

So I went shopping, of which more later; went to Mother’s for lunch, of which more later; and went to the casino and won a hundred bucks. Life was commencing to look better. Back to the hotel, ran into some friends, drank some beer, checked on my bag (no sign of same, bellman sez), and said hell with it, I’ll at least go to the room and freshen up before I go to the reception in the clothes I put on at five-freaking-a.m. this morning, and these people will LIKE it, do you hear me?

Key still works, no one else is living in my room — and voila, there’s the nomadic bag! I guess it teleported itself here, or something, bypassing the bellstand in the process. Oh, well. It’s here, and that’s what counts. So in a few, I will be showering and changing clothes and getting ready to go to the reception in clean clothes, thank-you-sweet-baby-Jesus.

First, two stories. It occurred to me somewhere between my house and the interstate that in my packing last night, I had failed to pack a strapless bra, while I had packed two, count them, TWO, things that required same. Sigh. OK. Go buy a strapless bra.

Do you know how many places in downtown New Orleans you can buy a strapless bra? One. It would be Saks Fifth Avenue. Do you know how much a strapless bra would cost at Saks Fifth Avenue? It would be 60 bucks. Now, I was already in underwear sticker shock, as I had dropped quickly into Dillards in Hot Springs yesterday to pick up a new pair of Spanx, and was horrified to find out the control panties had gone up to 50 bucks. (For the unitiated, Spanx are sort of like a girdle, but different. They’re a lot more comfortable, and they have a way of nicely compressing the assorted bulges and slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and advancing age.)

So, just for the hell of it, although tonight’s outfit does not require both, I’m going to wear BOTH the Spanx and the new strapless bra, just for the novelty of wearing $110 worth of underwear.  I don’t believe I ever owned $110 worth of underwear at one time before.

Otherwise: lunch. Mother’s. Been there since approximately four years before God, at the corner of Poydras and Tchopitoulas. (Didn’t think I could spell that, didja? Well, guess what. I don’t think I spelled it right.). You go in, stand in line (at 2:30 on a Saturday afternoon), and order, pay, give the waitress your receipt (she will call you Baby, or in the particular Cajun-Creole-black pronounciation of it down here, Beh-beh), and she will bring you your lunch. Dude at the cash register gives you your drink; in my case, a Dixie beer.

And aforementioned waitress (whom signs admonish not to tip) brings you your order, in my case, a fried shrimp po’boy.

Aaaaahhhhhh. New Orleans, I love you. I love your dressed po’boys, from the Leidenheimer bread (chewy crust, insides of little more than air with a bit of yeasty bread wrapping around it here and there),to the  impossibly crispy shrimp tasting of pepper, shredded cabbage, hamburger dill chips, a slathering of mayo. God DAMN, that was GOOD! I got a small sandwich, still a generous six inches long, piled high with impossibly crispy shrimps, crunchy sweet cabbage, kosher dills and mayo…dosed it liberally with Crystal hot sauce, and snarfed it down. And midway through, got me another Dixie.

I need to go work out, so I can burn that off and have room for dinner at Mr. B’s tonight. Lawd God. That was four hours ago, and I ate half the sandwich and then just the shrimps off the other half, and I’m STILL full.

But I’m fixin’ to go take a shower and put on my $110 worth of new underwear and go to the reception, and hope my dinner date tonight doesn’t want to eat until late.

You and y’mama ‘n ’em hang with me, here, and wait on the next installment of eating my way through the Big Easy.


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