DAY TWO – NEW ORLEANS CONTINUED
So, I’m at the Riverwalk Marketplace and I want to go New Orleans Centre, billed by my travel guide as “New Orlean’s newest shopping centre”. It’s fourteen blocks away.
I decide it’s time for a cab. The Hilton hotel is located next to Riverwalk. I get to the entrance and there’s a fleet of cabs available. I hop in the nearest one and soon I am zipping through traffic. My destination is quite close to the Superdome. Minutes later, I’m a block away from the stadium and dropped off at the mall. I pay the driver and get out.
I go into the mall and I immediately get a bad feeling. The place doesn’t look new at all. It feels like it was built in the 80s. There’s no one in it. The stores suck. Sure, it has a Macy’s, but it’s nothing like the Macy’s in NYC. The whole place has this sanitized feel to it. I’m out of there in less than 20 minutes.
I decide I can walk back to my hotel, since it’s only 7 blocks or so. I get back and shower once again. Fresh out of the shower, I plop on the bed and turn on the TV. A nap ensues. I wake up an hour or so later. It’s almost 7pm. I need to find some dinner. Flipping through the travel guide, I decide on Lemon Grass. Vietnamese cuisine fused with the local Cajun flavours. It’s also only a block away from my hotel.
Lemon Grass is located in the International Hotel. It’s a very nice place to stay. I liked how everything looked clean and modern, without being too pretentious. Anyways, I get to the restaurant and they are two other tables. It’s totally dead in there.
I’m also the only one dining alone. I order up some din-din. It looks good. I start to get bored during my meal. I was hoping my waitress would chat with me, but she doesn’t, even though she seems as bored as I am. I finish my meal, pay, and get out of there. While nice, the food didn’t really stand out. I think I’ve had better Asian-fusion at Wild Rice. Anyways, as I was leaving, I passed by the hotel bar, Loa. It looked very comfy and a great place to grab a drink. I also noticed the bartender was female and she was very much alone, without a single customer. Heh.
I was too full for a drink, so I decided I’d go home, check my mail, and then come back later. So, that I did, and I came back to the bar about an hour later. My plan was to have a beer or two, and then go back to end the night early. What I forgot to mention was that I had booked myself on a swamp tour the next day and I had to be down in the lobby for my pick-up at 12 noon. I wanted to get up early to do some stuff before heading back for the tour.
Anyways, I got to the bar and sidled up to a stool and sat down. The same bartender was still there and there was another patron about three stools down from me. He was wearing a plaid shirt, jean shorts, and running shoes. He also possessed what appeared to be the beginnings of a mullet. I would have guessed his age to be late thirties or early forties.
The bartender came up to me and asked me what I wanted. I asked her what kind of beer she had on tap. She went through a list but the last one was foreign to me. She explained it was a local beer. That sounded alright to me, no sense in going to New Orleans to get a Molson. It was also cheap, about $4 US a pint.
I took my pint and sipped from it. Not bad. Chit-chat began between the bartender and myself. It turns out she just finished her master’s degree in creative writing in New York. She had been in New Orleans for less than a year. I told her I was doing a grad degree as well. She told me almost lost her fellowship because she didn’t want to teach undergrads. She said it detracted from her own work. I was like, um, ok. I personally think teaching undergrads is a good thing for grad students.
Well, all the while, the dude at the end of the bar is listening intently to our conversation. He jumps in once in a while to ask a question. I’m done my first pint and I decide to have another. While the bartender goes to pour it, I turn to the other dude and get his story. Turns out he’s a fur salesman from Dallas, Texas. He’s driven up with some other people to sell some furs to a Baptist convention.
I ask him how the hell is he selling fur coats in Dallas in the summertime. He tells me “it ain’t easy”. We begin to talk about other stuff that escapes my mind. General bar talk I guess. He notices this really expensive tequila on the shelf. The bartender asks if he wants a margarita with it. He asks how much. $13 US she replies. I am quite content with my $4 US beer. The dude goes for it.
I mention to him that better be a hell of a margarita for $13 US. I tell him that’s like $19 CAD. The bartender fixes up his drink. It’s a tiny, tiny margarita. We’re not talking Earl’s sized margaritas. She puts into a glass that you’d drink scotch in. There’s an extra little bit that she puts into a shot glass. She places boths glasses in front of him. He takes a sip from the bigger one. A look of content comes to his face. “Mmmm…. that’s nice.”
He then proceeds to slide the shot glass over to me. “Here, try it.” I ask him if he’s sure. The shot glass probably contains nearly $5 CAD worth of margarita. He says he’s sure. I drink the whole thing. It is nice. Perhaps not $13 US nice, but tasty nonetheless. I’m almost through my 2nd beer and I’m feeling pretty conversational at this point. My friend and I start talking about more stuff. At one point, someone asks the other what their first name is. I say mine. He’s starts laughing. “Oh, you were serious. Sorry.” I laugh it off. I’ve had two beer. I ask him his name. It’s Andy. Hello Andy.
I get up to use the men’s room. On the walk over, it’s clear to me I’ve had something to drink. I get back and the bartender asks me if I want something else. I say I’m not sure what I want. She suggests a mojito. She tells me that people come in especially asking for her since she makes the best mojitos. I ask her how much. $9 US. Whoa, usually for that price someone gets naked while I drink (er, so I’ve been told that can happen). I decide what the hell, I’m on vacation. She makes me up a mojito. It looks absolutely refreshing. I’ve never had one before. I take a sip from it. It’s like a cool breeze in my mouth. It goes down really smooth. I’m done with it in less than three minutes. I order another. I try not to think about what this is costing me.
While I’m drinking my second mojito, Andy makes some sorta reference to women bartenders dancing on bars. Our bartender says she’s not doing that for sure. She mentions though that there is a Coyote Ugly in the French Quarter. Andy looks at me.
“Erwin, let’s go to Coyote Ugly. You and me buddy.”
At this point, I realize it’s about midnight and I’m pretty sure I’m drunk. Now, Andy, a fur salesman from Dallas, Texas, who I’ve known for about two hours is asking me if I want to go to Coyote Ugly where women dance on the bar.
“Let’s go Andy.”
Before I go, I pay my bill and tell Andy I have to make one more trip to the men’s room. As I walk, it’s very clear I am intoxicated. I don’t stumble or anything, but for some reason I find the bathroom soaps amusing. I’m also laughing at the randomness of the night. It was supposed to be an early evening. Yet, here I am about to go bar hopping some dude I just met.
We go outside the hotel. Andy is drunk as I am. Before we left, we got directions from the bartender. Off we went in the night, two out-of-town dudes, trying to make their way to Coyote Ugly.
TO BE CONTINUED…