The “WE” Word
Proud To Call It
You know you’re from New Orleans when a joke about lawyers will bore you to tears but mention ‘the one about the nun and the horny monkey’ and your attention becomes as focused as a sniper. Other indications abound.
New Orleans is neat because we can bike anywhere in the city and never consider that some bikes have gears.
We can discuss gumbo at length, have at least ten ‘favorite places’ to eat, know that going to Galatoire’s is not about the food and that a woman should never be expected to wear stockings unless she’s in a burlesque show. We know that the four seasons are food groups not weather patterns, that alligator is ‘the other white meat’ and that we can get locally baked po boy bread, but baguettes and ciabatta have to be imported from California. We regard ‘Slow Food’ as something we’ve been doing here since 1718. We start our red beans to soak on Sunday night, don’t consider it a special occasion when we eat beignets and haven’t had a Lucky Dog since playing tour guide to inebriated relatives years ago.
There’s no question in our minds that all politicians will tell you what you want to hear and then go where the money tells them. We know that when you call 911 they might not respond at all unless you say “Shots Fired!” and maybe not even then, with any sense of urgency. We know that when we call an ambulance it will be accompanied by a fire truck and a huge bill for the ride which is why when we’re hurt it’s cheaper to call a cab or have a friend drop you off at the emergency room.
None of us understand why Charity Hospital stayed closed, why the 610 overpass has not been torn down or why we aren’t allowed to drink in our cars anymore. We don’t want our IDs checked in bars; we’re all older than we look. We don’t give money to tap dancers, know where we got our shoes and suspect that those folks with signs that say “Homeless/AnythingHelps/GodBless” are making more money than us.
We’re not surprised to see crops growing from potholes in our streets, waiters rubbing elbows with judges at art openings, men in red dresses, women dressed as pirates and/or just plain painted gold or silver. We would rather get our health care from our veterinarian because we trust them more than doctors. We shy away from adult beverages that come in colors not found in nature. We are nonplussed when greeted “good morning” but shy away when a stranger wants to shake our hand or “just ask you something”.
We’ll pin money on a birthday shirt or blouse, support WWOZ rather than PBS, feed stray cats, brake for crossing chickens, consider going to Chalmette a road trip and avoid Bourbon St.
We believe Paul Prudhomme and Susan Spicer are saints and we believe our Saints will pull it off this year. We wonder why some people think that football pools are illegal. We don’t consider ourselves part of American South, more like Caribbean North. We don’t drink Sweet Tea. We know what we mean when we say” Lagniappe”, “Red Gravy”, “Making Groceries” and “Ya Momma and Dem”. We dance every day, on any occasion, for any reason or none at all. We dress our sandwiches.
We don’t give direction by compass points, everything to us is either Uptown, Downtown, River Side or Lake Side. We use our favorite Bars as MapQuest.
Just as New Yorkers believe about their bagels and Californians believe about their morning coffee, no New Orleanian doubts that it is the water here that makes our food so tasty. We believe that the words “Last Call” are an abomination before God and man. We wonder why visitors seem surprised that we have ghosts. We have no ‘Role Models’. We don’t know whether money can buy happiness because we’ve never had any (money) and we’re already happy. We think cold weather is just “Stupid”.
We all have our own ways of dealing with fleas, ticks, roaches and termites. We’re stung by mosquitoes, caterpillars, spiders and we have insects here that haven’t even been named. Our cats hunt Palmetto Bugs in our houses. We think Monk Parrots and cicadas make music not noise. We’re not surprised to discover raccoons, possums or rats at our compost. There are alligators and snakes loose in our parks. We run the gamut of birdlife here. We have only one degree of separation. We have opinions about everything but know better than to talk about sex, politics or religion in bars.
We love the Krewe Du Vieux, Muses and the Society of Saint Ann. We know that a second line trumps traffic, there’s always some kind of festival going on and your bike is about to be stolen no matter what kind of lock you use. We wear socks in winter and when we have to go to work. We know when a friend is on a diet of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol that there’s a heartbreak going on. We ‘get’ Confederacy of Dunces. We all have worked in the service industry at some point, know musicians or are one (probably both) and find it funny that when the bridge toll was cut out, ferry prices cut in. We wonder why the streetcar tracks haven’t been finished in nine years and the Super Dome was up and running in six months.
We believe that it’s a blessed day when we wake up in the morning, more so when we haven’t missed a meal and especially so when the conversation at mealtime is centered on our plans for the next meal. Our city flower is a balloon.