The rain was blowing sideways off the Mississippi River when we got in line to get into Cafe du Monde. I turned my red umbrella sideways to block it, and waited patiently with a dry head and a drenched grey skirt. The trick to sitting at a table in Cafe du Monde, you see, is that there really is no such thing as a seating line. However, the visiting masses were lined up per usual, and the Cafe itself was blocked from view, both by my umbrella and by the screens they had lowered against the weather. I couldn’t get an advance look at the table situation. Once we made our wet way to the entrance though, where the line kept on, bisecting the cafe with eyes desperately peering for a clean, empty table, I immediately spotted a dirty, empty table and led J and Ma to it, thus liberating ourselves of life in Line-Land. Our table was bussed in moments and we very shortly thereafter began our day (at noon) with beignets and cafe-au-lait. Since they had the screens down, the wind that normally passes through that venue was at a relative stand-still, thereby marking this visit to the Cafe as likely the first powdered-sugar-free incident I’ve ever had there. Maybe I’m just growing skillz. That didn’t stop J from blowing some on his Ma though, just to give her the experience.
Shopping at the French Market ensued, successfully, as did further money-spending at various venues along Decatur St. We eventually cut across the neighborhood, then, to make our way to the Upper Quarter where, upon my friend JM’s invitation, we were to attend a Wedding and a Birthday.
We arrived at the bar right at 3:00 p.m., the time suggested to us, roughly, by JM. Time being relative around here, J and Ma gathered at the bar’s entrance just in time to hear JM proclaim, “I now pronounce you MAN AND WIFE!” Having separated from them to drop our shopping bags off at the car, I made it to the bar a split moment thereafter, just in time to be handed a white bar towel. We all dove immediately into a makeshift Second Line led by the bride and groom in a pedicab, followed by JM with a speaker on wheels blaring brass, followed by a handful of people I’d never met, followed by J and I waving bar towels and his huge black rain umbrella, followed by Ma, followed by the rest of the group, some of whom I knew.
We danced around the block: up Burgundy, over on Conti, down Dauphine, and back to Bienville, to the little corner bar. My favorite dancer in our impromptu parade was Ms. Skeeta, a very fine, large, and fuzzy dog who lived with a couple of the participants, who, leash dragging behind her, ran around each and every one of us, doubling back to her masters occasionally, only to run back around all of our ankles once again. She knew exactly where we were going. What a dog! Once everyone was gathered inside, Ms. Skeeta complacently curled up in her corner, we ordered drinks and it was time to cut the cake. With a twist.
The cake was a delectable chocolate from Domenica, with the number 43 perched on top like an askew tiara. JM borrowed my lighter, lit the 43, and we all sang Happy Birthday to the owner of the fine establishment, who was unenthused about turning the same age as the candles parked atop the cake. At some point, later, the cake read 34, the swap-a-roo taking place by a sympathetic pal.
After I managed to get my lighter back from JM, the bride and groom thus cut the birthday cake and fed it to each other in classic wedding fashion.
Hail to Multitasking!!!
Shortly after THAT, a beatiful gal in bunny ears, hair cropped close to her head, stepped up on the little tiny “stage” in the far corner of the bar, to sing the happy couple’s wedding dance song. Despite her voice wavering a little with trepidation at the crowd, she belted out a wonderful rendition of At Last (Etta James!) while the bride and groom swayed together in the tiny space temporarily serving as a dance floor. Despite not having met the bride until that very day (when she came off her pedicab after the Second Line and gave me a huge hug), I admit to becoming a little teary-eyed at that very moment.
I always cry at weddings.
I caught up with the birthday boy’s wife over a couple of beers, and we jabbed like a couple of hens since I hadn’t seen her since Saints season ended. Then we made our exit to head home but FIRST!
A last-minute decision on the drive home to swing in and have dinner at St. Charles Tavern. There is nothing like walking into a restaurant, on a slow day, only to be greeted with huge hugs by the chef and the waitress. Brother and sister, they both work in the same place, and they are our friends. So after a nice dinner involving a really good steak and some friend-time with da staff, THEN we went home. 😉
Monday morning tried to dawn bright and early, but I was still on vacation so it dawned around 9:30 a.m. instead.
I rolled groggily out of bed only to be informed that we had to go to Walmart to make some groceries. Oh Gawd, I thought, really?! So I put a bra on under the black tank top I had slept in, pulled on my green raggedy skirt, barely put some lipstick on, tossed my brown straw hat on my head to hide my bedraggled sleep-sweaty hair, and off we went. I mean, it’s Walmart, right?! You can look like hell and go to Walmart. RIGHT?!
We discovered fairly quickly, when we tried to go into the electronics/DVD/etc. area, that there was a commercial being filmed on site. The crew was roaming all over the store taking shots in different settings. It was surreal and wonderful that they were playing with the intercom for some of this. After announcing that everyone should ignore what they were saying for the next 20 minutes, we were graced with announcements such as, “You, Lady in aisle 13. I see what you’re doing. Put it back.” “For the next 10 minutes, all corn chips are FREE!” “Attention Walmart customers: This is your King speaking. Attention, I AM YOUR KING!” I’ve never had so much fun in the cramped maze of the Walmart pharmacy aisles. I was truly laughing non-stop. We all were.
As we moseyed on in our search for the Stuff We Needed, we rounded a corner and continued up the aisles past all the storage bin alternatives. And who should we pass right by but Harry. Connick. Jr. Himself.
Oh. Ma. Gawd.
It would figure, of course, that the ONE day I stumble out of bed and don’t do a thing with myself, I walk RIGHT PAST the man I’ve had a crush on since the Memphis Belle days, and I look like…well…I look like I just rolled out of bed. Yiminy!!!
A little while later, we passed by a member of the crew who was offering folks free hotdogs over in the grill and patio section. Our curiosity bred by the fact that we hadn’t had breakfast, we poked our way over there to check it out. Turns out the hotdogs were free as long as we were willing to receive them on camera…but I didn’t go for it. Harry or not, I just couldn’t let myself be a “Walmart Person” for all the world to see, as mussy as I was! J did join the lineup, but changed his mind at the last second , as he was in the same state of mind as me.
So we shopped, made groceries, and I casually peered at Mr. Connick Jr. every time he walked by with the film crew. All the way up to Ma and I leaning on the register area, gazing, while we were rung up. He was over in produce by then. I never wanted to go pick out a tomato so badly in my life.
And then we, you know, went home.
Sideways rain at le Cafe. Making da bar in time to dance around the block waving a white towel and tripping over my new dog buddy. Random Etta James cover from a beautiful local. Hugs from a bride I’d never met before. Dinner made and served by friends. Harry Connick, Jr. at Walmart.
Normal couple of days in New Orleans, my friends. You bet.