Debaucherous Good Times
On Saturday night I was standing on the deck of the Bourbon Cowboy, a New Orleans nightspot that appealed to my group because it was A.) not packed wall-to-wall with drunks, bimbos and bangers and B.) had a working air conditioner. It was 9 p.m. and 91 degrees, so these were important qualities.
A stranger on the balcony noticed my shirt (a University of Memphis tee) and made the obvious Bourbon Street/Beale Street comparison. We chatted for a few minutes and then he mentioned that, “It’s been pretty quiet down here this week.”
It should be noted that at that point a police convoy was escorting a limo down the street, street performers had taken residence on both corners of Toulouse and Bourbon and in the distance a very unfortunate religious group was being showered with obscenities by a horde of drunks. Since it was only 9 p.m., there were no breasts being flashed on the street; while I saw none on the weekend (first time that’s not happened on a NOLA trip for me), I have no doubt that somewhere down the street it was occurring.
“Yeah,” I replied. “This is a lot more chilled out than it’s been on some of my other visits.”
If that doesn’t make sense to you, you’ve never been to NOLA. And if you’ve never been I implore you, go.
Many people swear by certain trips (Atlanta, Memphis/Tunica, Nashville) as a go-to ‘Going to get away for 48-72 hours, have some fun and make some questionable life choices’ destination. Don’t get me wrong, I love those places; I live in one and will be making visits to the others in the next few months. But there’s only one NOLA.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, New Orleans always flies under the radar. Or maybe that’s a good thing; more debaucherous good times for me!
It could be that New Orleans is a bit of a drive for people; I confess I was a bit daunted by the 18-hour round trip ride for 48 hours of good times but that’s what you do when you love something – in this case my love was spread around for my wife (her first NOLA experience), my friends who were already there and New Orleans in general – you go the extra 395 miles. You drive nine hours and arrive in the middle of the night because you know the city is going ‘til dawn and you can jump right into the madness.
And jump we did. Some highlights…
- Hand Grenade’s at Tropical Isle. Many people swear by Pat O’Brien’s Courtyard (which is where we wound up at the end of Friday night), but my initial “I’m on Bourbon Street, where should I go first?” answer is always Tropical Isle for a Hand Grenade. As my friend Tony said, “You looked so happy when you had that first sip, I thought you might burst into tears.” It’s possible.
- Impromptu trips are awesome for a few reasons (like the ‘Hey, wanna go to New Orleans?’ text I got from Mrs. Me, immediately earning her Wife of the Year consideration) but have drawbacks. Like unaffordable plane tickets (700 bucks??) and hotel rooms (200 bucks for a Holiday Inn???). Thankfully, we got in at the French Market Inn, which was inexpensive, fairly nice and very customer-friendly. More on that later.
- Following Hurricane’s at Pat O’s on Friday, three of us stopped at the famous French Quarter Krystal (immortalized by the Alabama fan tea-bagging the passed-out LSU fan after last year’s BCS Championship game), where we were the only three white people in the building. We were not welcome; it was strangely similar to the Animal House scene at the bar with Fawn Leibowitz’s sorority sisters. We got our Krystal Chix and left. Quickly.
- Mrs. Me getting fed up with wandering the streets of a strange city at 3 a.m., hailing a taxi, then demanding and getting a $10 dollar ride to our hotel. It was glorious to watch in person.
- Waking up in New Orleans. There are few things more strange than waking up, stretching, looking out your window… and seeing three drunken 45-year olds stumble by with beers the size of Vern Troyer.
- I did have a bad wake-up moment: I couldn’t find my wedding band Saturday morning. While this wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been (since I was in bed with my wife and all), it certainly got my morning off to a rocky start. I spent a couple of hours after waking up calling the establishments we had been at the night before, retracing my Bourbon Street steps and generally making all my friends miserable.
This is where the French Market saved the day for me. After asking them if anyone had turned in a ring before I started my sojourn in New Orleans, I had nearly given up on the idea of finding it when I stepped back into the hotel around mid-afternoon. Turns out, someone had found it on the stairs – which I hadn’t been on the night before and had no idea that they even existed – and turned it in. Faced with the prospect of losing a $500 ring, this was an insane turn of good fortune.
Now I was pumped. We headed over to Harrah’s – another great NOLA perk: A casino! – filled with confidence. Karma had come in a good way and we needed to ride the wave.
I chose to play blackjack and a few people joined me, including my wife. (Some people will ask, ‘Why would you gamble with her? Isn’t that boring? Don’t women ruin gambling?’ She’s actually a fantastic blackjack player. Hold ‘em and craps, another story, but she can play blackjack, probably better than most dudes I know.) We sat down and were greeted by an elderly dealer named Mervin, who was jovial and wanted everyone to have a good time.
And we did. Mervin dealt blackjacks like he was handing out Tic-Tacs, went bust at all the right times and generally forced everyone involved to have a grand old time. Everyone won money, including our new best friend in a Reggie Bush Saints jersey who seemed to have a bottomless supply of $25 chips. Had the weekend ended right there, it would’ve been perfect.
As it was, we went back to Bourbon Street, had a fantastic dinner and enjoyed the best, smelliest street on Earth for another carefree night. We also celebrated my friend Landon’s engagement to his long-time girlfriend Kaitlyn; Tony and I are now actively planning a bachelor party. It may be hard to top New Orleans though.