9:00 pm – Arrive in the French Quarter and park somewhere on Canal St. Head over toward Bourbon St.
9:05 pm – Walk down Bourbon St. and remember how wonderfully disgusting it is. A giant electric cross that says, “Jesus Saves” is in the street between a strip club, a head shop, a restaurant, and a bar. And thus, children, jazz was born.
9:30 pm – Find a place to eat on Bourbon St. and reacquaint ourselves with how expensive and delicious the étouffée is. Take stock of our finances and make a plan. It took about $10 to drive from Tampa to Jacksonville and about $20 to drive from Jacksonville to N.O. We would stay in N.O. until we had $20. We would use that $20 to get to Jacksonville. Guy had $10 in Jacksonville. He would give us the $10 for gas money for the rest of the trip back home. No need of emergency plan. We are all 21. If necessary, repeat high school N.O. experience, and play on the streets of the Quarter for alcohol and gas money.
10:47 pm – Disappointment sets in because all the bands playing in the Quarter are rock bands. We can’t find jazz and settle on a blues band. We go in, order beers, and it turns out that it is R&B instead of blues. Good R&B is fine, but we didn’t need to drive to New Orleans for that. What is it about “R&” that makes it so impure? Do blues musicians not have rhythm?
12:15 pm – Wander down to Jackson Square in front of St. Louis cathedral. In the course of walking, we pass two girls. One of the girls won’t stop grinning at Brian whose nose is still red and puffy from the piercing the night before. Still thinking of that carrot.
12:37 am – Meander down to the Mississippi and find a homeless man named David who asks for food. We take him to Denny’s.
2:00 am – Finished eating Denny’s. We ask David if he needs anything else. He says that he needs clothes. We say, “Wait here. Our clothes are all just thrown in the hatchback part of my ’76 Nova. Will drive up, open the trunk, and you can take anything you want.”
2:15 am – Discover that our eccentric ‘80s alternative wardrobe is not suitable apparel for the homeless. After perusing the houndstooth pants, paisley shirts, lime green button downs, and earth tone corduroys (all of which were ironically purchased at thrift shops that marketed to low income shoppers), David takes one of Brian’s blue T-shirts. He looks at the houndstooth pants and says, “I can’t be seen in public in something like that.” Mental note: your clothes have been rejected by a homeless man. You may be more eccentric than you originally thought.
2:30 am – Driving around the city with no idea where we are going in order to find a place to sleep.
3:45 am – Spot a motel in a somewhat shady area of town. Sign on front of motel offers alternate pricing depending on if you want to pay by the night or BY THE HOUR! Approach clerk, undeterred by sign, and rent the cheapest room.
4:02 am – Enter a motel room that seems like it has seen most of its service under the “hourly” fee structure.
4:03 am – Suspicions confirmed when we pull out the chair from under the desk. Discover high heel marks permanently imbedded in the seat. To our utter disgust, one of the beds was also covered with hair. It was the kind of hair that sometimes gets misspelled as “public”. It was definitely not public hair.
4:30 am – Crash in utter exhaustion in a double bed only to find that the person on the air conditioner side is freezing while the person on the opposite side is sweating. Primary concern is not comfort, but hygienic sterility.
10:42 am – Wake up and head down to the Café du Mond to get Beignets and Café au Lait. Street musician playing a tenor saxophone approaches our table. Clearly possessed of an ability much more moderate than his demeanor. He asks for some money. I offer him a dollar if he can play some Monk. He does a passable job on Straight No Chaser. Mental note: don’t ask for sophisticated New York jazz from white saxophone players that played for two years in high school in New Orleans.
11:13 am – Found some decent street bands playing. OK brass band. This is the French Quarter that I love.
12:30 pm – Eating Crawfish and using all the usual jokes. I sometimes wonder if people only eat crawfish to tell the jokes. I eat crawfish and remember that it’s because they are a little taste of heaven.
2:01 pm – Hurricanes with more street musicians. The nose ring, which was just a stud, begins to sink down into what is clearly an infected piercing. Brian continues to deny that it is infected or that it hurts.
6:05 pm – Find dinner and realize that we are quickly running out of money. Begin to order two meals to split between three people. Consider going to Burger King on Canal and remember that the last time I went in there I was 17 and Michael Winger, upon entering shouted to the restaurant, “I want to speak to the King!” Mental note: do not enter that Burger King after more than two hurricanes.
8:10 pm – Continue to walk around the quarter and drink hurricanes. Grinny girl keeps eyeing Brian whenever we pass her.
10:15 pm – Wind up back in Jackson Qquare. Meet grinny girl and her friend. I’m beginning to feel tired from hurricanes and lack of sleep. I lay down on the curb in front of the church and ask Guy and Brian to wake me up in an hour. Brian continues chatting with grinny girl.
11:30 pm – Woke up on the street in front of St. Louis’ Cathedral. Wish I could have heard that blues song last night. Went to get some Irish Coffee.
12:15 am – Head back down to the Mississippi to watch the river in the moonlight.
2:00 am – Desperate for sleep. Found motel again. Spent remaining money. Crash for a few hours. Too tired to check for public hair.
10:00 am – Drove back to Jacksonville. By this point, the earring that Brian was using for a nose ring had sunk into his nose far enough to be flush with the skin. The back was occasionally poking his septum. Brian begins to acknowledge that it may be infected.
6:29 pm – Arrive in Jacksonville on empty. Swim in the pool at Guy’s apartment. Brian, having finally given up and removed the earring from his nose discovers that he can go underwater, plug his nostrils, and blow air bubbles through the infected hole in the side of his nose. Guy gives us $10. This is more money than that saxophone player made yesterday trying to play Monk.
12:00 am – Arrive in Tampa very pleased with how we spent our $200.
Brian went the next week and had his nose pierced by a professional. No vegetables were used. No infection ensued.
It wasn't a blue houndstooth but my thriftstore GAP blue/green/burgundy plaid pants…by far my favorite in the trunk. I got lucky on that rejection.
I don't remember ever meeting grinny girl. If I had, I may have an interesting interlude to add to this already colorful story.
This is a great story! I'm so glad I found this! Haha
Ciara! So nice to hear from you! I hope you are doing wonderfully.