Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The City of New Orleans: A Killer Combination

Day Four.

It was much easier to wake up that Tuesday than I expected. Which is a good thing, because after a whole lot of drunk talk the night before, we promised Tom Turner that we'd eat his Lucky Dogs.

Like I mentioned in that drunk blog, we met Tom Turner hanging out in front of a liquor store with a rusted tackle box and a fishing pole, and he and Margaret got to talkin' 'bout fishin'. That girl knows her shit, but I was slightly stumbly and slurry, and I know absolutely nothing about fishing so I can't even faux a retrospective dialogue.

So we were Turner’s first customers on Tuesday morning, and I'm not gonna lie: he served up the most disgusting hot dog I've ever eaten. It's not like I expected high-class Chicago dogs, but it tasted like someone baffed into a meat grinder and linked it up for stupid, drunken New Orleans tourists who keep their stupid, drunken promises to dirty old stupid, drunken fishermen.

Luckily we were scheduled to be at LaFitte's Blacksmith Shop at noon for a cemetery tour and "the best bloody marys in town," because there's nothing like bloody, spicy, vodka-y goodness to carve away the taste of vile-ass hot dogs.

We get there early and strike up a conversation with a chatty old guy at the bar, who was all sorts of yellow. Yellowish hair, matching teeth. Yellowing fingertips fondling a newspaper and a cigarette. He sounds like he lost his voice fifteen years ago, straining for volume ever since. He offers to take a picture of us, and rambles on and on about restaurants we should visit and places to see, and tells us he’s a buggy driver and gives tours.

“You’re a buggy driver? Can I ask you a question?” I’m interested in this.

“Sure, but I think you just did.” He smiles. Yellowly.

“Why mules?”

“Oh, they're just more sure-footed, better suited for the heat than horses. Easier to feed, easier to train, you know.” He hands me his Official Buggy Driver Tour Guide card: Jeffrey Faar. He offers to take us on a buggy tour the next day, seeing as he’s got today off. A Grand Tour for us, he says. We're all for it. Fuck yeah, buggy tour with Jeffrey Faar.

While we're talking, Bloody Mary shows up. She’s our actual tour guide of the day, slightly snobby, highly spiritual, and crazy-educated on New Orleans history.

“Is one of you Muffy?” she asks, thudding her purse on the middle of our table.

“Yep, that’s me,” Muffy answers.

“Hello, Muffy, I’m Bloody Mary.” She turns her battered blonde head towards the bar. “Sweetie, can I get a seltzer water? With a lime.”

The bartender nods, annoyed at being called, “sweetie,” and does his job.

She lights a cigarette and makes small talk about our trip, ignoring Jeffrey Faar, who momentarily turns back to his newspaper. Her voice has a husky, irritable, sultry authority, like a condescending Jessica Rabbit who believes she's the patron saint of knowledge.

“What kinda tour you gals doin?” Jeffrey Faar hollers from behind me.

“Cemetery, and strolling through the French Quarter for a little bit of history about lost souls and local legends and...mysticism.” She flirts when she speaks, punctuating her words with little shrugs and suggestive eyebrows.

“Oh, cemetery tour huh?” He gestures to his newspaper. “You hear about that murder last night—“

“No, I don’t really read the newspaper,” she interrupts, crossing her legs. Finite.

“Oh. You goin up to Lafay-yett?”

"No, St. Louis. Actually, in an oddly poetic way, there was a suicide at Lafayette cemetery--"

There's a hacking cough, and Jeffrey Faar chimes in, "GEORGE?"

"Yes, George--"

"I knew him; he was a buggy driver!"

"Yes, he was. So's my husband. Actually—"

"He killed himself?" I interject, because of course I want in on this.

"What happened?" someone else asks. I have no idea who. Bloody marys make everything warm and forgetful.

"He got drunk and, well, went all on up to Lafay-yett,” Jeffrey Faar pokes his thumb towards the open doorway behind him, “an-an-and blew his brains out under a tree."

"Wow, that's a shame." Echoes and awkward sips all around.

"I actually performed a ritual ceremony for his mother and sister, it was really very sad,” Blood Mary says, somber.

"What happened?" I'm pretty sure that was Bobbay.

"Oh, well he was a manic depressive, you know," Jeffrey Faar puts down his cigarette and turns from his newspaper. "An' on toppa that a drinker."

"Ohhhhhh." Because we all understand drinker.

"An' you know that's lit-trally a killer combination."

"His family wanted a very private ceremony, too, because of just that,” Bloody Mary wisely nods, adjusting her leopard-print hoody. Seriously. Leopard.

"An’ so he was drinking, an’ with the medication an’ all that, an’ his mind couldn't handle it an’ so he blew his brains out----ahhhh, shoot," and Jeffrey Faar starts swatting the newspaper smoking beside him, flinging his burning, neglected cigarette off of page six and onto the floor.

"I burned page six," he calls to the bartender. "Sorry. I'm gonna get you another one, they're right down the street."

“Don’t worry about it, man,” the bartender responds from the back room.

Jeffrey Faar ignores him and continues talking to us, batting the newspaper. "Yeah an’ they had to cut down that tree, too. They say it's not because of George, and it's gotta be because of all the blood an’ brains on it or something."

Bloody Mary furrows. "No...I don't think that's true."

"Oh, well, that's just what I hear." And then he tries to convince her that the trumpet-playing angel over Louis Prima’s grave houses the soul of Prima and therefore his face, and where exactly you turn to get to see clearly it at whatever angle. Bloody Mary is skeptical and argumentative and bored with the conversation, telling him he's completely wrong while checking her red-as-hell lipstick in a pocket mirror.

Eventually, nearly mid-sentence and without warning, Jeffrey Faar up and hops on the bike resting next to the door and rides away, no goodbye or nothing.

“Did he just leave?” I look at Muffy.<

“Hyeah. He totally did.”

“Fucking whatever, man, I didn’t even get to say goodbye.”

Bloody Mary starts with her elaborate, well-acted history lesson, dismissing Jeffrey Faar completely. It’s interesting, really.

Then just before we leave, Jeffrey Faar returns to the bar, fresh newspaper in hand. As we leave the bar for the tour, he yells after us, in that taut, rasping voice of his,“You girls have fun!”

I make sure to shake his hand. “See you tomorrow, Jeffrey Faar.”



The Ambiguous Blob said...

everything bout NOLA scares the hell outta me. You're so brave, going outside without security and talking to locals.

A Free Man said...

I've never really tasted a hot dog that didn't taste like someone barfed in a tube. But then, I'm from the South so maybe we get the barf dogs. Damn yankees.

Anonymous said...

There's a fairly good chance that I'll never make it to New Orleans. And that's probably for the best, because it would never be as cool as the trip you're writing for us.

mongoliangirl said...

Damn Rassles! I started out wanting to quote one thing so I could tell you how wonderful this post is...but ended up just wanting to quote the entire post and so I can tell you how wonderful this post is.
You are nailing NOLA in so many ways here...and I am familiar in a very drunk and yellow way.
Rarely do I read anything that can 'take me there'. This most certainly does.

Mrs. Booms said...


My new favorite descriptive.

Anonymous said...

I keep waiting to read that you've met Ignatius, Darlene, Burma Jones and Dorian Green at a "really smart" bar.

Mia Watts said...

"Her voice has a husky, irritable, sultry authority, like a condescending Jessica Rabbit who believes she's the patron saint of knowledge."

Fucking brilliant.

I seriously need to get out more.

Le Meems said...

I want re-imagine a Jessica Rabbit, Patron Saint of Knowledge for my next halloween costume.

that is KICK ASS.

p.s. AMBIGUOUS, stop it with your anti-nola tirade mama. Until you have been, you can not judge.
NOLA is the shit.

Bluestreak said...

I wanna go to Nawlins and meet the yellowy man. Oh, and the hot dogs have to be better than they are here. Oh, and fucking bloody marys. Oh just kill me.

formerly fun said...

he smiled, yellowly and the comparison with Jessica Rabbit my two favorite parts.

Anonymous said...

i haven't been to NOLA post katrina... but from your description? some of the old city is still there.... love your characters. and the people you met up with are pretty special, too!

harper & beatrix said...

i miss my new orleans, like, for serious. i get to go to a wedding there in june. i can't wait.


The Ambiguous Blob said...

G.D. I thought Le Meems was too busy to be reading blog comments this week. I'm seriously always getting in trouble for talking smack about the ghetto- I mean CITY.

Kitty said...

I love your stories, Rassles. They're so real and put me right there.
You've got the atmosphere and dialogue pegged.
You don't miss a beat.

Rassles said...

Ambiblob: Are you really that scared and anti-New Orleans? Wuss.

Freeman: Then I feel sorry for you, sir, even if you are a scientist and world traveler and I'm way jealous, because I can honestly say, having tasted delicious hot dogs, that I could never go without. I suggest you call up these guys and try to convince them to ship you some yum.

Ginny: I have complete faith that you would meet just as many interesting people. It's so hard not to, when they're just walking around everywhere. Being interesting. I'm not writing about the parts where we sat around and said, "What do you guys want to do?" "I don't know, what do you wanna do?"

Mongo: I'm completely digging all these compliments. You guys are way better listeners than the friends I can see.

Boomer: Word.

Franklin: I'm not gonna lie, I was looking for them. It was all about the vagrancy. And I totally just realized: I forgot to go to the Ignatius statue. Fuck fuck fuck. I'll just have to go back.

Mia: I say, walk around and see what you find.

Le Meems: I can just see it, with JR the hair and make up, white robes that show a little thigh, and a pet owl. Hot Athena.

Blues: I don't know man, these hot dogs were fucking disgusting.

FF: I can't believe people are picking favorite parts. This is great.

Daisyfae: It seems to me that with everything that town has gone through, it's still got soul.

Beatrix: If you need a date, I wear a mean suit...nevermind. Stupid boobs. Okay, if you know any guys that need a date...

Ambiblob: I think when a city has followers as loyal and nifty as Meems, it should cancel out any harsh opinions automatically.

Kitty: I think all of these compliments are starting to make me feel uncomfortable, but thanks, sincerely.

The Ambiguous Blob said...

I am. A wuss and a scaredy cat. I walk around with either pepper spray or a serious shank in my purse pretty much all the time and I live in a quiet little beach community. Cities with lots of crime and bad neighborhoods make me sooooooooooo nervous. I'm just not into getting murdered I guess.

Nikki B. said...

i HATE agreeing with everyone else...i so wanted to have my own cool favorite part...but, my fave part was YELLOWLY, too.

dammit, jim!!

hey...no worries about the LOL thing on my comments. i won't tell anyone you used some electronic, verbage murdering, acronym...it's our little secret!!

kaila said...

Get to the part where you meet this douchebag named Kyle, and you guys totally call him out on his douchbaggery or he gets run-over by a mule-cart or better yet, murdered. Anything like that would be awesome. Thanks.

(my ex-husband is somewhere in NOLA - his name is Kyle)

Rassles said...

Ambiblob: Gaahhh, murdered shmurdered.

Nikki: I can't help it. Sometimes the prose is too good.

Kaila: I met no Kyle, and I have to say I'm glad for it.

paperback reader said...

This is the sort of adventure I would like to have if I ever had time, money, or left my house.

Rassles said...

Pistols: Where have you been all my life? I'd all but given up on our internet friendship.