Sunday, August 28, 2011

(Some of) My Favorite New Orleans Stories

So I love NOLA, that's pretty clear. I have lots of legitimate reasons for loving that place-- harrowing stories of people that I've met and things that I've seen and special moments shared with great music/food/architecture/spirit-- but let's be honest, none of those stories are funny. So here are some of my favorite New Orleans stories. I hope they're funny to people who didn't experience them, but if not, screw you, I'm laughing.


I'll start out with a story that I'm sure I won't give justice, but hopefully that won't matter much:
FEEDING FRENZY!
So two friends and I went on a swamp tour. (Yeah, it was just as awesome as it sounds.) Lots of funny things that don't necessarily warrant their own stories but just imagine them as I flippantly list them here: me fawning over our 40 yr old tour guide because of his Cajun accent, the Australians in the boat ooh-ing and aww-ing over our silly accents, learning about alligator crack (marshmallows), and learning about Cajun swimming holes ("You betcha them suckahs gotta learn how to swim wit dem gators in de watah!"). Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle and all that. We had a grand time watching gators until...
All of the sudden we're surrounded by seven or eight alligators. It's all fine and dandy, just a little unnerving. One hops on the boat, people scream, the tour guide seems okay and tries to calm everyone down. Then he tells us we need to get the hell outta there and hands back oars so that we can hit the gators in the face if they get too close. When animals come out of hibernation, they are extremely hungry. And why would marshmallows and rotten chicken cut it with delicious imported meats like the Australians on board? At any rate, we got out okay, though we kept saying "holy shit" for the rest of the trip whenever we thought about our gator experience.

Oops
Again, this story probably not as funny either, but I promise it will get better. That's how writing works: you end with the good stuff so that people will trudge through the rubbish to get there. 
Anyway, I've done a lot of volunteer-work in New Orleans, cleaning up neighborhoods, building playgrounds, working on houses, yadda, yadda, yadda. One day we were in the Lower 9th Ward to help with clean-up around a volunteer organization's headquarters. They only had one weed eater and a couple of shovels, so of course the men took those leaving the rest of us to do "women's work" (aka picking up used condoms and other trash). I was bitter but pretty much fine until I got propositioned by some guy in a kidnapping van who was driving past... Then I hid behind the building picking up trash and chilling with my new lizard friend "Frankie." Then I heard a big CRASH! (Or, in Batman terms, KAPOW! KABLAM! or KABOOM!)
I liked to think it was karma for the men thinking that they could do better work than the women. Ha.
We had to ride around the city in this jankity rental van for a few days after that... Luckily it didn't rain!

And now...
MORE SORDID TALES
AKA Booze-y Stories.

I'll be honest, I don't drink that often. Period. But I am perfectly capable. Adept, really. Some friends who were in NOLA with me this summer said it was funny to see "LeeAnne go from zero to drunk in 60 seconds."
"Gone in 60 Seconds" has a whole new meaning, no? 

In my defense, I had a lot of compensating to do for the hours of lethargy we spent in our hotel room during the day. The air conditioning in our hotel (then just our room, then the whole hotel, then our room) was broken. With heat index, it was 110 outside. Inside, it was a sultry 84. So we'd cool down in that for a little while before we went out:
Miserable.

Anyway, drunkenness is wrong, but it can lead to some funny stories.
Drunken Jackie + drunken homeless guy = the most amusing intervention ever witnessed. Always the social worker, that Jackie. She didn't mean to give him $20 but it just makes the story all the better!

BEADS
Mardi Gras beads are like currency in New Orleans. You get pelted with some just for walking by, then nicer and nicer get-ups proportional to the amount of skin you show. Sometimes, though, people get beads NOT to show skin.
In our case, it didn't work, but I tell you what: we (+ our new friend "New Jersey") threw so many beads at that fat old lady and she just flopped around all night using our beads to throw to other people. Life's just wrong sometimes.

DRUNKEN AUTHORSHIP
My favorite drunken NOLA story is about the writer that we met on Bourbon Street. We were stumbling back from hurricanes at Jean Lafitte's and came across some chick with a laptop and a golden retriever. Drunk LeeAnne likes to talk to people and Drunk Jackie likes to make out with dogs, so poor Drunk Levi just had to come along for the ride. 
This gal told us about the book she was writing "about things and stuff." Drunk Jackie took a break from playing with the dog to say, "That is SO AWESOME. So many people take the time to write about THINGS but no one bothers to write about STUFF." Drunk Levi, always logical, kept the conversation going by trying to differentiate between "things" and "stuff" without much luck. We would talk, she would type, Jackie would propose to the dog. 

In the end, I got a good peek at her computer screen and I was thoroughly impressed at her progress:
If anything could give you information about "things" and "stuff" to write about, Google would be it.