The other hurricane … an anecdote but not about a book …
August 3, 2009 § 12 Comments
Yes, 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.