Jeffrey Faar is a big fat liar.
After a hasty breakfast of peanut butter and jelly (I ran out of money) on Wednesday morning, we embarked on the mile hike to Jackson Square from our hotel to get our buggy tour. The son of a bitch wasn't there. So Muffy went to go talk to a manager, to make sure we weren't getting all yanked around. Jeffrey Faar had the day off.
I guess I'm not surprised, in the end. He was from Detroit. Can't trust people from Detroit. Even their ghosts are broken.
Eventually we made our way over to the Voodoo Spiritual Temple, to sate my irrational preoccupation with every religion ever. I'm not quite sure what it is, but any organized process or belief or practice that declares an absolute truth is fascinating, and I want to learn about all of them.
It's not really a "temple" in the sense you're thinking. It's a store. There's a sign on the doorway reminding us to move slowly and peacefully, and then you can buy all sorts of spiritual essentials, like bags of fucking dirt. Then there's sage bundles, cute little bottles of bullshit oils. Everything smells like nag champa. Why don't places use straight up sandalwood? Nag's infused with it anyway, and it smells lighter and cleaner.
Besides, isn't this supposed to be a Voodoo place? Shouldn't it smell like geraniums, or jasmine?
So I'm unimpressed. I've seen better head shops and faux apothecaries at the mall.
There's a back door leading into a green courtyard with a sign over it that says, "Please Ask To See The Altar." Booyah.
While everyone is browsing, I head straight for the frazzled woman behind the counter. "Excuse me." She looks up. Grab her eyes. "Hi. Do you think we could see the altar?"
"Oh. Um, I don't...I mean, I'm not quite...um...sure. have to...ummmm, see? I think..." and she continued to mumble, with this soft, tiny voice, and I immediately can't fucking stand her. I could break you with my hand, woman. I nodded slowly at her, smiling lightly, urging her with my eyes to either shut the fuck up or go see whatever it is she needed to see.
I have the nasty habit of immediately judging someone solely on the sound of their voice. It's an ineffective system. But I do it anyway. I mean, I have a naturally loud, deep voice. My "quiet voice" is your normal volume. It's obnoxious, really, and it probably embarrasses my friends. I'm trying, but whenever I soften, I feel the vibrations of leftover volume in my throat, and shove it back down to wherever it came from, and then sing louder in the car next time.
The Rossi family, in general, is sonorous. Not my mom so much, but then again she's not technically a Rossi, and is nowhere near as high-strung. Compared to the rest of them, I'm calmer, and way less publicly domineering. And I can be a real fucking wrecking ball.
Because I know I'm louder, I have a tendency to talk over people with those tiny, frail voices. It's a power thing. Some people make it too easy, and I have to stop myself from patronizing.
"Do you have to ask someone?” I ask lightly.
“Oh, well, yes, I think Priestess Miriam is, um, back there with, I don’t know…maybe, someone…”
“Take your time, it’s cool.” Smile. “We’re just gonna look around.”
She looks relieved. “Oh, okay.”
“I’m going in that room back there. Is that okay?”
“Oh, yes. Yes, that’s fine.”
“Thanks.” I walk back there and she scuttles past me and into the courtyard. They’ve got more useless junk in this room. I do like these sweet little handmade guitars they’ve got all over the place, but I just don’t get the jewelry and the smelly stuff. Then again, I don’t wear jewelry. And I don’t wear smelly stuff.
That’s a lie. I have a bottle of perfume I call “the pink cap” because someone left it in my car once and it has a pink cap. Usually I forget that I have it, and I put it on only when I go somewhere that involves guys that aren’t my friends. And then I can smell myself, because I put too much on, and wash it off. Same thing with make-up. It always gets wiped off, and then there’s make-uppy residue and I look retarded. I'm not very good at being pretty.
So there are pictures of Priestess Miriam all over the walls, with snakes and drums and elaborate costumes made of nets and stuff. Fetish masks, wooden dolls, a Creole carving of a slaveship. Some of it's beautiful, and some of it's crap.
The frail counter lady comes back into the room with a newfound confidence. “Um, Priestess Miriam is with guests, but you're welcome to look at the altar.”
She says the same thing to my friends, and we all head towards the courtyard.