I thought I had all time in the world, leaving work a little “early” so that I could swing by the house and spruce up for The Dirty Parts at Allways Lounge, which it seemed everybody and their mother was attending. It was a chance to catch up with a lot of folks all at once.
But when I got home, I couldn’t find a single safe and legal place to park. This is becoming more and more of an issue as they’ve extended the times people have to pay to park on Magazine, which means more people park on my street to avoid paying. A lot of people say, “You live right next to several popular bars – you had to know what you were getting into when you moved there.” But it’s not just the bar traffic during the night, it’s all the Ladies Who Lunch shopping at all the upscale boutiques during the day as well. Quite frustrating. So much so that I found myself trying to parallel park on an extremely narrow (yet still two-way) section of Camp Street. The curb had an extreme drop off, but I thought I could do it if I eased off the curb slowly. It would’ve worked if there hadn’t been a bricked-in flower box or something right there which I didn’t see. My back wheel got caught on it and I could neither drive back up the curb or reverse over the flower box. I was well and truly stuck. Meanwhile, there was extremely dangerous traffic trying to go around me in both directions with barely enough clearance for one car. No one stopped to help me, they just did their best to get around me. Ah, New Orleans. But that’s not the city I love. In my city, people generally see each other and do their very best to help each other. Not tonight.
I’ve said it several times. This is a hard city to live in, one of the hardest I’ve ever known or heard of. Luckily for me, just when you feel like the city has taken everything it possibly can and you have nothing left, something incredibly and entirely unique to New Orleans comes along and rescues you. You realize you can never live anywhere else.
This night, two young Mormon elders walked by and saw my distress. It could have been the beginning of a joke, it was so random and unlikely. And yes, funny, because they were dressed in suits and were the only ones who stopped to help me. But I was so touched that they knelt down in those suits, in the dark of narrow Camp Street and heaved me out of my jam. They were so respectful and so quietly competent. So, once I was saved, when one of them asked me if they could give me a card, I said heartily, “Yes, please!” It was the least I could do for all that they did, as I might’ve ordinarily hugged any other helper, but couldn’t, of course, hug them.
Saved by Mormons is a strange way to begin a night that ends up at a show called The Dirty Parts at the Allways Lounge. And that’s New Orleans, for you, that dichotomy. It was a reading by Tony O’Neill and included performances by Ratty Scurvics, Oops the Clown, Trixie Minx, Bella Blue and J. Lloyd Miller, as well. A few members of Peauxdunque were there, as well as my filmmaker friend Helen Krieger and Lee Ware dressed as a cigarette girl and hawking Tony’s books. And guess who was the Master of all these Ceremonies? Our own Nick Fox.
In his newest newsletter, I’d read:
…I decided that if I’m going to be an emcee, I need to look the part. So I went to Soul Train Fashions up on Chef Mentaur Highway and bought three pinstripe suits (one brown, one blue, one burgundy), two pairs of two-tone shoes, three shirts, three ties, and a pair of suspenders. I even went to Meyer the Hatter and got me a brand new hat. I’ve never spent that much on clothing in my life. But it felt good. It’s an investment in something I want to do.
He was wearing the burgundy suit and definitely looked the part. I was sitting next to Tony O’Neill while he was signing one of his books for me when Nick got up and performed a particularly profound and pleasing bit of poetry. Tony said to me, “He’s a genius.” Ain’t that something? 🙂
It’s good to see your friends shine.