My husband was poked in the butt by a ghost-child the other night.
This was on Thursday, and we were at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel for an event: “A Taste ‘n Toast to Our Armed Services.” I found myself in possession of tickets to this Navy League soiree a couple days earlier. One of my co-workers, a member of the Navy League himself, could no longer go due to a family illness. However, he wanted to make sure someone was able to attend in the name of the company, knew J was former military, and also understood I was a likely candidate due to some past conversations about the World War II Museum and my interest in his recent trip to Normandy for the D-Day Anniversary. So, I was It.
This function occurs every year, and it is a nice and fairly casual affair. Taking place early in the evening, just after work, some of New Orleans’ best chefs set up stations around the perimeter of the Orleans Ballroom and serve small plates of glorious food all to the fine purpose of saluting the Sailor, Marine, and Coast Guardsman of the Year.
So, we coasted through the doors of the Bourbon Orleans, and up the stairway to the Ballroom. We viewed the items in the silent auction, found ourselves a beverage, and set ourselves up with a couple of spots at one of the dining tables. Then, it was time to visit the stations and Taste Everything. Needless to say, the food was glorious. It was a blast to chat with all of the chefs, as well as to see these service men (and their families) get some love. And it was interesting to step into yet another facet of New Orleans society.
But what really got our attention that evening was a poke in the rear.
J was leading the way as we trailed through the crowd, navigating from the station serving Sausage and Alligator Cheesecake back to our table, when he very suddenly turned back to me and asked, incredulously, “Did you just poke my BUTT?!”
I was right behind him, but I had eats in one hand and a glass of wine in the other so I could easily reply that no, no I did not poke him in the butt. When we got to our table and sat down, he commented that the spot where the mysterious incident had occurred was tingling, and he demonstrated what it felt like, kind of a fast instant jab with the end of his fingers. Wild.
Of course, on our way there, we hadn’t even thought about the fact that we were going to be spending the evening socializing in a place touted as one of New Orleans’ most haunted hotels. After the invisible tookas-poke, however, we had to do a little looking into the matter. Thus, we took a moment from our epicurean exploration and sat there, while DJ Lou Sandoz played Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade” out over the crowds, and looked this place up.
The Bourbon Orleans Hotel started off as a Theatre and Ballroom. Then, in the late 1800s, it was converted into an Orphanage. There is many a haunting tale out there about this place, we quickly discovered.
The Ballroom itself, where we were dining and drinking, has its own inhabitants. Transparent dancers, under the main chandelier. Someone hiding behind the grand draperies. Then, there’s the Confederate Soldier who hovers between the 3rd and 6th floors.
But it was the Sisters of the Holy Family’s Convent, girls’ school, medical ward, and orphanage that caught our attention under these circumstances. A yellow fever epidemic hit around the time that they began their work, and both female and childlike apparitions are part of the hotel’s incredibly populated ghost story.
It was very definitely the children that we turned back to while coming to our own conclusion about what had just likely happened.
I can picture them in my head, now, the afterimages of these children-that-were.
Sneaking into the grown-up party.
Giggling with glee while dodging around the legs of adults.
And they found, naturally, the one pair of Big People in the room who would absolutely pay them attention.
Tag! We’re It.