The other hurricane … an anecdote but not about a book …

August 3, 2009 § 12 Comments

DSCN6700Yes, we went to Pat O’Brien’s. We were early for our ghost tour, had 45 minutes to kill and O’Brien’s was right across the street from our tour starting point so we ducked in there out of the 101 degree heat that early evening.

“What can I get for you children?” asked the waitress who had a gleam in her eye that we could see even in the afternoon dark of the piano bar.

“Well,” said HM, putting his hands on the table and looking at each of us around the table. Laylou and Irish waited, ready to follow suit, strangers in a strange land. “I’m thinking we’ll have Hurricanes all around.”

“Four of ’em, then? In a tall glass? It’s the souvenir glass but if you don’t want that glass, you can turn it in ‘fore you go. I just want to tell you that now. Nothin’ to eat?”

I shook my head. “We haven’t time, really. We just need to cool off.”

“All right, then.I won’t dally. Those drinks should fill you up anyway, and you’ll have ’em right away,” and she walked off, tucking our order into her apron pocket. 

There were six other people in the place, in  the cool part.
O’Brien’s also has an outdoor bar and a patio area and there were several patrons out there, sweating despite their proximity to the fountain.

Five years ago when HM and I were here and sat outdoors near the fountain, halfway through our drinks we were approached by a woman in a long frumpy dress but with the face of a cherub and tightly curled hair and looking kind of proper and wenchy at the same time. 
She set a box on our table and began with, “Excuse me, but I wonder if I could impose on you wonderful people to help us out. Our son just got married in a church down the street and he and his wife are coming over here for a drink and a celebration and we wondered if
you would go along with calling out “Congratulations” and blowing bubbles when they walk into the courtyard, yes?” and with that she took two tiny bottles out of the box and held them out to us. They were miniature bottles of bubbles.

She stood there, beaming and it was such an unusual request,  at that time in that place but we were enchanted with the idea  and said of course  “yes.”
It was our own wedding anniversary that day.
How could we refuse?

When the couple entered the courtyard, we took our cue from curly-long-dress lady and stood up with about 50 other  people who were in O’Briens patio that day and yelled “Congratulations!” and blew bubbles as fast as and as many as we could.  The bridal couple was surprised and smiled and smiled.

Now, years later, we were inside with our kids. Our waitress brought the drinks. They were huge. Not just tall, these Hurricanes were taller. Skyscrapers. Starbucks would have to steal a word beyond “vente” to describe them.

I immediately set about toasting and tasting. We had only about 30 minutes prior to the tour.
It was so darn hot.
New Orleans engages in open door air conditioning. You’re indoors but a wall may be “missing” and the place is wide open to the outdoors.
The city is in a silent race to chill the air but it’s really a matter of the cool air holding back the hot air at some point just beyond any doorway. 
You often can’t tell if you’re sitting indoors or outdoors. 

Yes, we clipped away at those drinks and the kids went to the outdoor barman and got refunds on their souvenir glasses simply because they didn’t want to carry them around.
Minutes later, we did the same, then slipped down the darkened corridor between the piano bar and into the light and across the street to meet our Haunted History tour guide.
You can say what you like about indulging in outright “tourist” activities, but there are places in the world (and this is one of them) where you can enjoy a certain quality of a certain specialty along with a certain local history and it is worth the tasting.


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§ 12 Responses to The other hurricane … an anecdote but not about a book …

  • ds says:

    Okay, I am officially jealous now. You had me at the bookstore, of course, but add the cafe au lait (sigh), beignets, a hurricane–which has what in it?–and a midnightish ghost tour, and I think I’ve gotta make a reservation. Someday.

    You keep posting, I’ll keep drooling. It’s a wonderful system.

    • oh says:

      DS – I don’t know the “balance” but the Hurricane (drink) has white rum, dark rum and “normal” rum, orange juice, pineapple juice and grenadine syrup. And crushed ice. It goes in a hurricane glass, which is sor to tuplip shaped, but I wouldn’t worry about the right glass if you have everything else!

      Stay tuned…

  • Nora says:

    You should post the Hurrican drinking Ghost Faces picture!

    Since we’ve been back to the office I could have used at least one of those hurricanes to take away the stress of the office =)

  • Okay, I have to go back. I. have. to. (But not in the middle of summer). And I really want to hear about the ghost tour! I LOVE those things.

    • oh says:

      Hi, Jen – OK, yup, I’m going to try to remember and repeat some of the stuff we heard on the ghost tour. whcih , even in spite of the twilight, still made my daughter and me a little jumpy! fun history-based stuff. coming up…

  • shoreacres says:

    My first trip to NOLA was with my own Mom and Dad. He was a Dixieland fan of the first order, and we stopped at Pat O’Brien’s prior to a visit to Preservation Hall.

    Dad saw me looking at those tall, wonderful glasses full of concoction and said, “You want one of those?” Before Mom could have her say he ordered, the drink arrived and I started in. All I remember is being halfway through that drink, sliding up next to Dad, laying my head on his shoulder and saying, “I think I like New Orleans…”

    • oh says:

      Shore – you are making me laugh. A terrific recollection. (thinking of your mom, likely poised to say something, but doesn’t). Yes, the two kind of go together well, the Hurricane and New Orleans…

  • Oh My Goodness I am so Jelous!

  • jeanie says:

    I kept my Pat O’Brien glass for a very long time! It was my first PBS conference and I went with my best buddy Gina (we share a brain) and the first night we were there hit the Quarter. Touristy? Maybe. Fun — you bet — I wouldn’t have missed it for the world and I’d do it over again! It sounds like you had the most wonderful time — how cool to be there with your kids!

  • Bree says:

    This sounds like so much fun. I’ve never been to New Orleans.

  • oh says:

    Bree – I can’t say we’ve ever chosen NOLA as a destination on purpose. But my husband often has conferences there and I go along. And that is how I’ve fallen in love with it.

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