Columns

2010.07.28 Sweating it out in NOLA

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

It was the end of a hard and hot day at play and I needed a cooling shower before bed. I started off with luke warm and kept edging the lever toward cold a little at a time.

Eventually I noticed there was nothing left. The water was almost off and it still wasn’t cold.

Of course, I suddenly realized. The water never gets cold in New Orleans. There’s no such thing as a cold shower in this city.

The only reason I’m here is because of my wife’s library training session. She’s here free of charge to learn about a new program starting this fall. I’m here to mess around in the big city with an expert tour guide—our daughter Rosanna who lived here for two years until recently. She drove down from Little Rock to spend the weekend with us.

For years I’ve taken notes during vacations so I’ll have something to write about when I return home. This time Colleen started in with notes, almost from the start, so she would have column material.

I wasn’t about to compete with her. She won, I lost. We couldn’t both tell the same stories.

I wrote down only three things. While going through security at Detroit Metro, a woman who didn’t make it through the scanner was being “patted down” to find out what made the alarm going off.

“It’s probably my bra,” she told the security worker.

“I hope it’s not that low,” the worker answered.

That one is mine because Colleen didn’t hear the entire conversation.

This one I’m telling because I started writing immediately. I didn’t even wait to get out of the elevator. Colleen claimed it as hers, but she can’t have everything.

We were coming down from our perch on the 21st floor of the hotel and the elevator stopped for a couple young women who were having a conversation when they walked in.

This is the part of the discussion that we heard: “He was helping him become more powerful through telekinesis.”

Wow. I wish we could have followed them around town. I wonder if they were with the Conservative Party USA, another group that was staying in our hotel.

Last one: We were having brunch at Slim Goodies on Magazine Street. Our waitress had an unusual laugh that sounded very familiar. I’d heard it before and I was sure it was the same as someone in Morenci.

I figured if I heard her laugh a few more times I would eventually wonder if so-and-so was in the room and the name would come to me.

It did, but I was surprised when the recollection arrived: She laughed like football coach Bill Kohn.

When people talk about New Orleans, conversation generally turns toward Bourbon Street. We spent some time there. It was a crazy Saturday night and the place was steaming and crowded. It’s just one continuous, loud screaming party.

We were on our way to a restaurant, and after the meal we mostly sauntered along on a block over from Bourbon. Easier walking and still lots to experience.

Bourbon Street is fun, but that’s just a small fraction of the city. It’s almost like an odd cousin of the family who’s always around if you want him, but there are so many normal people around without messing with that guy.

I’d rather spend time on Magazine Street far from downtown, up in the Slim Goodies neighborhood. I’d rather drive around with my good tour guide, Rosanna, who’s filled with interesting details.

The building over there, for example, was once the primary funeral home in the city. Anybody who thought they were anybody wanted a funeral at that location, and the bodies were always on display in the front window for public viewing.

She pointed out another place that’s a combination bar, restaurant, pool hall and laundry. A full-service establishment.

Streetcars, huge parks, incredible mansions, interesting houses everywhere, beads hanging from trees, the most unique cemeteries—this place is one of the best. I’d really hate to see it get swallowed up by the ocean, but the coastline nearby is disappearing at a rate of about two football fields every 76 minutes.

This must be the first vacation ever in which I didn’t over-pack. I threw in a few extra items just so Colleen wouldn’t give me a hard time about packing so light against her packing heavy. But New Orleans in the summer-time? I’m sweating through just about everything I brought.

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