Leave it to Weaver
Only moments before I got in front of a computer to type this column to meet a deadline about which I’d almost forgotten, I was four hours into the Photographic Crash Course. It’s a fun game that involves nodding your head and either smiling or muttering “mm-hmm” as *fill in your girlfriend’s name here* points individually at literally thousands of photographs featuring people who you either will never meet, wouldn’t recognize if you had, or are dead. But it’s important to her – thus the nodding and smiling.
The Photographic Crash Course is, of course, Step No. 2 in the “Get to Know Your Girlfriend’s Family in One Weekend or Less” process. Step No. 1, which occurred Tuesday, was Try Your Damnedest Not to Act Like a Tourist Day. I failed miserably at this, obviously, as Melissa (that’s the girlfriend) was born and raised in New Orleans, and TYDNALT Day happened to coincide with a cute little regional holiday called Mardi Gras.
Having already experienced my first Mardi Gras (thankfully) before I met Melissa, I attended several “family oriented” parades – and by family oriented, I mean minus the breasts of strange women. Yes, these alleged breastless parades do exist, and yes, they are fun. I promise.
But this being only my second time in this great city, added to the fact that Bourbon Street was the only thing I saw when I came the first time, I have been decidedly wide-eyed all week.
First of all, it is February here, just as it is in Fayetteville, yet it is not winter. I looked around many times in the past few days, wondering why everyone is all bundled up in 50 degree weather. Apparently, this is frigid.
Second, there are drive-through daiquiri shops here, which means they actually hand you a foam cup (or gallon jug, if you so prefer) filled with an honest-to-God, pre-mixed, alcoholic daquiri. But – and here’s the kicker – it’s illegal for them to hand it to you with the straw inserted. The window attendant is required by law to hand you the straw separately. Craziness.
Third, Lake Pontchartrain is really, really big. I’ve always seen it on maps and globes and the like, but I incorrectly assumed it was part of the ocean. Oh, no. It’s a lake, and it takes nearly an hour to cross it at highway speed. When you’re in the middle of the causeway, there is no land in sight. I kept having an unbearable desire to swim in it, but Meliisa assured me if I did I would die from toxic shock. Apparently she’s never gone skinny dipping in a farm pond.
Fourth, when it rains here, it rains here – torrents, for hours and hours. And I had the pleasure of driving I-10 during the peak of this particular storm. Not only could I not see the pavement in front of my car; I couldn’t see the hood of my car. When the rain finally let up enough to allow about 30 or so feet of visibility, I looked down from the bridge I hadn’t realized I was on into one of those massive, above-ground cemeteries they have here, which I had been in the process of almost driving into for the past five minutes. Lovely how ironic life can be, at times.
Anyhow, in my wide-eyed amazement and total culture shock of the past week, I’ve fallen in love with this jazzy little soup bowl situated at the foot of the toilet of North America. I’ve eaten more – and more richly – in the past three days than I have in the past three months at home. I’m even beginning to talk like a Yat, which, I’m told, is the local word for “thick New Orleans accent that makes the speaker sound like they’re from East Orange, New Jersey.”
And Melissa just found another box of pictures, so I’m off to memorize more names of cousins. After that, I’m gonna go walk across the street with a great big mug of beer, because you can do that here.
Matt Weaver is chief designer. His column appears on Thursdays.