Monday, June 18, 2007

Crawfish, Smelly Bourbon Street and Other Tales of NOLA: Part 3

In the interest of time, and because I felt we should switch shizzle up and not make a huge mother mammoth entry that no one will actually read, we will be retelling random anecdotes from our very fun adventure in New Orleans and the outlying bayou areas to the south. None of them will be in chronological order. That would be too easy - ed.

When I was 8 or 9 years old, my mother bought some strawberry-flavored wine coolers for a Saturday night viewing of Dr. Quinn and Sisters, and offered me one. Since it was incredibly yummy and tasted sort of like raspberry seltzer, I downed it in about 35 seconds. My mother looked at me in alarm and said, "You know, alcoholism runs in our family. If you encounter another drink that doesn't taste like alcohol, you could be in for a world of trouble." I suspected that that was probably true, and since I already knew from sipping my uncle's Rolling Rock that my palate was never going to accept much in the way of liquids that tasted like yeast, staying away from wine coolers and other fruit-flavored alcoholic beverages made a lot of sense. Besides, none of that shizzle tastes as good as a cold can of Diet Pepsi on a summer day, so there have never been much in the way of horrible drunk tales from my end, unless you count the Grappa incident of 2004, which, in case you're wondering, we don't.
Which brings us to Bourbon Street. Beretta Mego's bachelorette party was basically centered on wandering down this infamous road of ill repute, and since I am the opposite of a wet blanket and was actually pretty intrigued by the idea, we wandered into the depths of the French Quarter to celebrate Mego's last hours before being entangled with the hunkified goodness of the US Army.

See Ragsdale, Bobbie.

If you're a teetotaler, Bourbon Street is pretty much the ninth circle of hell, with the frozen lake melted into spilled liquor and bodily fluids. It was relatively sedate, considering what it no doubt looks like on Mardi Gras and during Jazz Fest, but you still had plenty of discarded dixie cups, suspicious wet spots on the pavement and drunken men throwing beads and other discarded items onto the street. Half of the establishments were strip clubs with neon signs that said "Free admission! No cover!" which, to me, does not say much about the naked people inside OR the clothed customers with no money. The other half were what I have been describing to my chums in New York as the Gray's Papayas of liquor - little shanty lemonade stand things that sell only three different fruity liquors in plastic cups for about $2. This was very exciting, and a pink cup full of Island Itch was immediately procured.

I don't THINK this was the one that closed down two months ago for 86 health code violations, but really, does it matter?
(DISCLAIMER: DB Bogangles has risen to defend the beleaguered Gray's Papaya and correctly states that it was the Papaya King that was closed down for health violations. We humbly regret the error, but it doesn't change the fact that all of the dirt-cheap papaya establishments in the city are sketch defined.)

In The Greatest Movie Ever, the first sign that the utopian goodness of BFFs is about to come crashing down is when Barbara Hershey and her daughter are about to take their yearly sabbatical to (where else?) the beach. The daughter talks excitedly about her playmate coming to visit sometime in August, which Barbara flatly shoots down. "I can't shake this flu," she says apologetically. Of course, we know the flu turns into cardio myopathy, which turns into a tearful goodbye at the beach with Bette Midler's solitary tear running down her right cheek. Now, the first ominous sign I had that everything on Bourbon Street was about to head south was two seconds after I had swallowed my first sip of Island Itch. While the liquid was swirling around in my mouth, I thought to myself, "Yum, this tastes like Hawaiian Punch!" As the liquid then made its way down my throat, a new, more pressing concern shot to the forefront. "Um...there is a TON of alcohol in this. Uh oh." Uh oh indeed. But at least we weren't circumventing our daughter's summer happiness because of flu-like symptoms.

"Be sure to keep in touch, Cece, okay?"
"Well sure - we're friends, aren't we?"

Despite impending disaster, the scrumptious punch-like beverage was consumed and our journey down Bourbon Street resumed. However, even I couldn't help noticing that some potentially disasterous Emma qualities were starting to make themselves more apparent than would usually be the case. For one, I was no longer able to hide my distaste for certain people by pretending to be interested in what they were saying or by suavely changing the subject to the emergence of Hayden Panettiere as a viable box office powerhouse. Also, my amazing sense of balance was not as amazing as it usually is.
But it wasn't until this TOOL that was with us tried to have a conversation with me that it became abundantly clear that the drink had damaged my soul. Some random creature from Florida who nobody knew - it wasn't entirely clear how she managed to worm her way into a party with a bunch of strangers - decided to initiate a rousing discussion with me about some of the buildings we were walking by.
Tool: Oooh, look at THAT building!
Emma: Why? Does Brangelina live there? [yells] Brangelina!!
Tool: It's sooo adorable. I have to take a picture! [takes picture of regular looking building]
Emma: Did you just take a picture of a regular looking building?
Tool: No! It's so pretty! Look at it!
Emma: [looks] I think that one has strippers in it.
Tool: OH MY GOD!!
Emma: Brangelina?
Tool: Look at THAT one!! [takes picture of another building that looks even more ordinary than the first]
Emma: You know, we just passed a totally cool sewer grate. You should probably take a picture of that too.
Tool: [frowns in concentration] Are you being sarcastic?
Emma: Me? I'm NEVER sarcastic. It was 10 feet back the way we came from.
Tool: I...[frowns again, but instantly lights up] LOOK AT THAT HOUSE! HOW CUTE!
Tool: Did you just hiss at me?
Emma: [walks into nearest Gray's Papaya liquor thing and orders a hand grenade]

What I was forced to converse with for 14 blocks.

Since the rest of my companions were just as cynical and hardcore as I was, there was no need to use my animal noises as a defense mechanism for the rest of the night. Instead, I spent hours soberly (chuckle) discussing the situation at an incredibly badass bar with compatriots who had the misfortune of drinking more than I had, all of us agreeing how CREEPY it was that a drink that tasted that good had more liquor in it than a bottle of Cuervo. I leaned across the table conspiratorially. "I mean, I'm not wrong about this. You know what this is? This is TREACHERY. They're thinking, 'We have an obligation to get these people on Bourbon Street drunk, and quickly.'" Everyone nodded in agreement, even though it wasn't entirely clear if anyone, least of all me, knew what I was actually talking about. "The only thing worse than being taken advantage of by a $2 drink is having to spend time with TOOLS!" The inebriated people frowned in confusion. One guy sitting diagonally from me seemed particularly perplexed. "Like power tools?"



At 12:30 PM, Blogger Wardens World said...

funny piece, funny NOLA series. You really travel with that teddy bear? Priceless. Oh yeah, got some good anti-Bono stuff on my site today. As an Irishman (half Irish anyway, the hairless half), he insults me with his pompous blowhardiness...I hate him on so many levels that I can't even listen to old U2 anymore.


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