Thursday, April 9, 2009

The City of New Orleans: In Which I Judge Everything Unfairly

Day Five.

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 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.



Mrs. Booms said...

I get the loud thing.

I'm this weird combination of loud and quiet. And when I'm being loud and someone tells me not to be, I get really agitated.

My husband is loud too. And we talk too much.

Mostly to each other.

I judge the frail handshake, but it seems to be an effective system. Really effective.

I hate fish hands.

Nikki B. said...

i talk over people too often, and too easily...unless they are a strong loud talker like me, then we both just battle it out crescendoing to new heights of the human voice.

it almost gets on my nerves...i'm like dude, what i have to say is way better than anything you could muster, concede already and shut the fuck up!!

oh, and by the by...i booked my ticket for jazzfest in NOLA!!! i can't wait, and i'm sure there will still be a hint of rassles in the air. i hope my trip will be at least half as interesting as yours.

Anonymous said...

one of my best friends has a voice so loud that her laugh turns on the "clapper" - which makes the lights go off and on. which makes us laugh harder, until the room is strobing and we're wishing we had ganja...

The Ambiguous Blob said...

I have a pleasant, young voice. I like to hear the sound of it.

Also! You need to wear good smelling stuff. It makes you instantly more desirable, I promise. If you send me your address, I'll mail you some delightful good smelling stuff that you won't mind wearing. Plus then I'll be able to drop by when I'm in town and mail you creepy pictures of naked people. Not me, other naked people. Cuz that would go hella good with good smelling stuff.

Anonymous said...

Easter is *the* best time to be checking out voodoo zombie magicks.

All the other comments are about voice volume, so i'll join in and confess that i have a normal voice, but an obnoxiously loud laugh. People hate me for my laugh. Which is fine by me.

Mia Watts said...

Seriously? Priestess Miriam?? Heard of her. Always wears white, African American with a sage look to her of infinite understanding. Turban on the head (also white) and puts people into fake death? She has a seance type deal every year by the water and regularly gets on TV.

You were within feet of a voodoo legend.

Mia Watts said...

And fucking scary as shit.

Gwen said...

So what was the altar like? I'm just curious. I loved these lines: "Even their ghosts are broken." "I'm not very good at being pretty." Neither am I, Rassles, neither am I. I gave up working at being pretty a long time ago. It was a lost cause. Something tells me that you're a natural beauty, though. You are probably one of those girls who can put her hair in a ponytail and throw on some sweats and look fucking beautiful and still say, "I'm not even wearing make up...I look awful". I hate people like you. Just kidding :) Mostly.

Anonymous said...

ok....ending like that is just mean. Please don't make me wait as long to find out about the altar as I waited to find out who shot JR a million years ago.

Trouble said...

I love n'awlins.

Are you serious in that you thought that the voodoo store would smell like Jasmine? That dirt is GRAVEYARD dirt. What do you think it's going to smell like, precisely?

Trouble said...

Also, will tell a 100% true voodoo story if you promise to read it. On my blog, of course.

Schmee said...

dun dun duuuun...that was quite the cliffhanger ross. oh and i still haven't gotten my drunken postcard. I now fear that we will never know what it said...(tear)

Rassles said...

Boomer: I judge the handshake too. I also judge the people who don't offer their hand. Obviously, I feel a sense of self-importance.

Nikki: I want to go back so badly. It was a fantastic trip. JEALOUS.

Daisy: Back in junior high, I had the clapper. Loved that thing. I would just lay there and clap over and over again. Because obviously, I had a lot to do in junior high.

Ambiblob: Most of my favorite people love the sound of their own voice. And as for smelly stuff, I mean, I'm not anti-goodness, I just don't know how to find it, or what smells good. I can't really tell the difference between cologne and perfume, sometimes. I just know stuff like, "Damn, that guy smells delicious."

GullyB: I get the loud laugh thing too. People hate seeing movies with me.

Mia: Hell yeah, Priestess Miriam. She holds her own. Even though I don't believe in her practices, it's hard not to just believe in her.Gwen: If I were one of those girls, I'd be in the business of turning guys down, not entrapment.

Franklin: It's a busy time of year, my friend. The blogs are going to slow down considerably over the next couple of months.

Trouble: I don't know, New Orleans has Jasmine're right. I'm a douchebag.

Schmee: Eat your heart out, Da Vinci Code.

Bluestreak said...

How is it possible that in a blog post on a day in your trip to New Orleans you manage to tell more about yourself that you can learn from months of reading most peoples blogs? It's also done in a way that makes me SEE you. I actually SEE you. You fuckin rule.