This is the second and third in a series of observations about the kind of odd and random relationship glimpses one can get over just a single weekend hanging out in The French Quarter. Like snowflakes, these particular encounters are unique, yet the snowflakes manage to fall just the same with every trip... (Encounter #1 is here.)
Encounter #2: The Hand In The Bar
I've Got a Flair - Fountains of Wayne (mp3)
One of our obligatory activities in New Orleans is to play a stupid golf game called Golden Tee while watching basketball in my favorite sports-themed bar.
As we play our silly game, there’s a group of five older guys and one seriously cute gal in her 20s. The dudes are clad in tuxes, and she’s wearing a black-and-white cottony spaghetti strap dress. While we’ve been playing, the guys have held a mock wedding between her and her much older boyfriend, and they’ve fashioned a wedding ring out of gold Mardi Gras beads. They even wrote up a marriage contract on a napkin while I was ordering up another round at the bar. I was asked to sign as a witness. It was all cute and amusing.
Here was another May-December situation where what I originally assumed was in jest turned out to be for real. They really were a couple, this cute gal who looked like Cat from “Mystic Pizza” and a curly-haired version of Kramer. “Bully for them,” I thought.
Next I see, they’re making out at the bar, a mere 10 feet from us. The other guys in their group have gone. She punctuates their kiss by taking his bottom lip in her teeth and pulling it. And then she’s biting into it. And then he’s yelping. She broke the skin. He’s got a bar napkin on his lip, and she’s laughing her ass off.
We finish another hole, and I look back over, and they’re making out some more, except now he’s got his arm entirely under her dress, and he’s doing things for her that just don’t seem appropriate within spitting distance of two dudes spending their evening playing a nerdy golf video game.
Yes, I realize it doesn’t exactly speak to my sterling spotless character that I had trouble looking away, but I rubberneck at car wrecks, too. Twenty minutes later, we’re done with our golf game, and they’re still at the bar, and I’m wondering why they’re not heading somewhere better.
Encounter #3: The Four Hurricanes
The Wind - Peasant (mp3)
My pals were headed for some fried chicken, and I was charged with meeting them, but first I had to stop and get us some Hurricanes. It had been a while since we’d partaken in this particularly nasty and toxic French Quarter delicacy, and it was time we punished ourselves by splitting a few of them between us.
As I walked into the first bar area, a comely young lady overburdened with four of the lovely red drinks was bumbling out the exit.
Much like Kool-Aid, Hurricanes are full of the kind of red dye that will forever tattoo and destroy most wardrobes. This poor gal was doomed. Wherever she was going with these four drinks, she was gonna arrive awash in red stains. I wasn’t in any hurry, so I asked her if she needed help.
“It’s OK. I’m just going next door with them.”
“That’s a long way. I really don’t mind.”
She thanked me and handed me two of the drinks. I followed her, and we quickly arrived at the Preservation Hall. I followed her through the packed crowd, where her friend and their two boyfriends awaited their drinks. When this young lady’s boyfriend saw me, he reacted in precisely the way you would expect an attractive young lady’s goopy-groomed boyfriend to react: “Who the fuck are you?”
I didn’t say that. But I thought it. I just handed him the two drinks and smiled politely and said sternly, “You’re welcome.”
The girl told her boyfriend to shut up and looked at me sweetly and thanked me.
I’m not sure what was the greater motivation for helping her: the desire to do something small and kind and unselfish for a cute young lady, or the hope that I’d be delivering the drinks to a couple of self-esteem-challenged beefcakes who view every male as a swordfight waiting to happen.
As I walked back to Pat O’Brien’s, I prayed my contribution to her life was to give her that one additional straw on the camel's back that would help convince her to move on and find someone decent. Prayers in the Quarter rarely fall on sympathetic ears, but it couldn’t have hurt.