big sleazy labor quickie

Here we are in the PJ’s again. I mean the coffee shop, not my pajamas. I have to say this is a very nice PJ’s and I like it very much except I wish they’d turn the music down. That makes me sound like an old fart, but the music is not exactly to my personal taste and it gets intrusive. I could live the rest of my life without having to hear “Careless Whisper” again, thank you.
I guess we could go sit outside in front, but then we have to deal with smokers in close proximity. I would rather have the music.

Yesterday we decided we would have lunch at Domiliese’s and then go walking around Magazine Street for a little while. My dad suggested taking the River Road route to get there, avoiding the interstate. It was a nice idea except I didn’t realize the road takes a sharp turn and you have to follow it or else you take Oak to Carrollton. This is scenic too—we passed Camellia Grill— but then I had to figure out how to get back to where we needed to be.
We ended up on St. Charles Avenue, which is about as scenic as it gets in New Orleans, with its line of old oak trees and Audubon Park and so forth. I realized we’d gone a little too far and needed to turn around, so I advised my boyfriend to make a U-turn.
Helpful Advice: When guiding people to turn on St. Charles Avenue, people who are not familar with New Orleans, it is best to preface all instructions with a warning about streetcars running up and down the median. Otherwise, the driver may start to U-turn and very nearly smack the car into a streetcar. This can be a traumatizing experience for the driver.
We had roast beef po-boys at Domiliese’s and they were the best roast beef po-boys I have had in years and years. Better than Mother’s, even. When I told my dad about it later, he grumbled something about “a po-boy just like one you can get anywhere in town, right here by the house even,” but I don’t agree. It is hard to find places where they put hot roast beef and lots of brown gravy on the po-boy. Most po-boy shops just heat up deli roast beef slices and that’s what you get. Mother’s uses actual roast beef and does that yummy thing with the debris (the leftover crunchy bits that fall off the roast beef while it’s cooking) but they don’t have brown gravy. I want brown gravy. My favorite roast beef po-boys weren’t even in New Orleans, they were in Baton Rouge at The Chimes, where the “four napkin roast beef po-boy” was dripping with gravy. It is one of the few times I like mayonnaise on something, because the mayo mixes in with the gravy and it’s a wonderful messy thing.
Also, it was fun taking my boyfriend to a cool little local place like Domiliese’s, where you have to buy your drinks from the bar and everyone in there is drinking Barq’s root beer in glass bottles with their po-boys. I was really glad we made the effort to go.
After lunch, we drove a few blocks up to Magazine Street and wandered around. I was impressed by the size of the Whole Foods up there—it was built from a converted bus terminal. Outside of the front of the store, a guy was roasting Hatch chile peppers in a big wire barrel of a roaster. It smelled divine.
We went to a toy store and a bookstore and a cool stationery store and we took a break at CC’s, which has wireless access but was much noisier than PJ’s even with the music blaring here. We looked at clothes and shoes and other useless cool stuff. My boyfriend hadn’t seen the old street names on the curbs before and liked seeing that.
We wanted to drive to another part of Magazine Street and look at more stuff but it was pretty hot and we were tired. We drove all the way up the street to the part where it becomes one-way instead. Then we tried to drive back to one section of the street I liked, but …
What we learned yesterday—Jette is a terrible navigator in New Orleans. It’s true. I am fine in Austin because I know where most things are (except in Round Rock, which doesn’t count) and I am even okay in other cities I don’t know well, because then I take time beforehand to write down exactly how to get somewhere or print directions off Mapquest and follow them precisely.
But New Orleans is weird. Since I grew up nearby, I am expected to know where everything is. The truth is that I didn’t drive in New Orleans until I was 16, still wasn’t allowed to drive in most areas of the actual city, and then wrecked the car at age 17 and wasn’t allowed to drive anymore. I didn’t drive regularly until I was in college at LSU, and I could get around Baton Rouge very well by the time I left, but I rarely drove in New Orleans proper. I can get around in the suburbs where my parents live, and I know the area around my Uptown high school, but after that I get confused very easily. (In my defense, New Orleans is damned confusing.)
I had a map of New Orleans in my purse and I knew some parts of it, but my boyfriend was exhausted after a day of being rerouted here and there and taking bizarre circular roundabout routes to get everywhere.
Also, because I am supposed to know where everything is and I don’t, I have a bad habit of announcing, “Now this is Magazine Street” and not telling my boyfriend what he is supposed to do with that information. I don’t do this in other cities.
(Why didn’t I drive? I would have, gladly, but we were in my boyfriend’s car, which is a standard shift. His car is better for road trips than mine. I have never learned how to drive a standard, although I have wanted to learn for years and years, but no one wants to risk my messing up their car to learn. I should find out if I can rent a car with a standard shift, some weekend.)
So the lesson we learned this weekend is that if we are going to drive in the city of New Orleans, we have to treat it like a strange city. We can’t even rely on my parents for directions, because they give the kinds of directions that assume I know where everything is. My boyfriend needs to see the routes on a map, and/or we need to use Mapquest, and organize everything beforehand.
Favorite line from yesterday: “Earhart Expressway is the Mopac of New Orleans.” Well, I didn’t say it was good, I said it was my favorite.
Last night, we had a birthday party for my dad. My brother and his wife and their kids came over, and I got to see their new baby. New to me, anyway—she is more than four months old. My mom bought a big pan of pasta from Semolina’s (Shrimp Robain, I think) and made a very un-Mom-like salad. The salads of my childhood featured brown iceberg lettuce, wilty cucumber slices and a few sad tomato slices on the side for those who wanted them. Last night’s salad was mixed field greens (out of the bag, but that’s what I do myself) with bell pepper and apple slices and dried cranberries and feta cheese. I was pleasantly surprised. I roasted some asparagus. Along with the cake for dessert, we also had petits fours and macaroons from Gambino’s (mmmmm).
My niece and nephew are at the age where they like to tear around the house screaming and getting into things they shouldn’t, but we had a good time with them. I was amazed that my mom still had the old Fisher Price Little People house and garage. The garage is in terrible shape but you can’t destroy that little house, and she also had kept most of the original furniture. Very cute.
My boyfriend and I had hoped to watch a movie after everyone left but it was really too late, since some friends of my parents showed up around 9:30 or so and stayed awhile, past the suspenseful end of the LSU game. (They tied the game at the last minute, then won in overtime solely because the other team had a terrible field-goal kicker. I felt very sorry for that guy.)
Actually, we were really hoping “The Daily Show” would be on again. Friday night, we saw back-to-back episodes of “The Daily Show” covering the Republican National Convention and it was the best laugh I’d had since we saw Bad Santa. We don’t have cable at home but “The Daily Show” really tempts us. Well, it tempts me, along with Turner Classic Movies.
Except for the driving debacle yesterday, it has been a pretty nice weekend overall. Today we might go visit my grandparents. My boyfriend has even offered to go along, although I am a little worried about this. You never know what my grandmother might say … or what she might ask. However, I think she would get a great deal of pleasure out of meeting my boyfriend (when we tried to visit them last year, she was in the hospital) and it is probably worth a little inner embarassment or grouchiness. My mom might go with us, which makes it easier to keep small talk going for all of us. However, I am a bit worried about what might happen if my grandmother asks if my boyfriend and I are living together, because I refuse to lie about it but my mom hates other people knowing or discussing it. Well, this is how good stories are made. You don’t get a good story from everyone behaving themselves and talking about dull, safe stuff.
Now I am going to read Gambit Weekly and finish my iced tea and figure out when my boyfriend will be finished doing actual work on his computer. Then we’ll go back to my parents’ house to play with my niece (my sister and niece spent the night at my parents’ house too) and have smoked turkey for lunch and not do anything very taxing. Then tomorrow we’ll drive back to Austin.

8 thoughts on “big sleazy labor quickie”

  1. 1)I wanna go to NO. Creeping jealousy.
    2)Hey, lay off of Wham! For a very brief time, they made feathered hair cool for men.
    3)Lesson learned: “quickie” in a subject line makes macmail think the email is spam. Whatever for?
    4)Wait. Maybe it was “big.”

  2. Once younger daughter and I were driving down Magazine, to where it becomes one way. Next thing, we were in the projects. I have a propensity for landing in the “best” parts of town when missing turns. This just added to it. We got out by following a nice-looking car with a no-drugs bumper sticker. Of course, she said that bumper sticker was probably there to throw people off.

  3. Car rental firms do not rent stick-shift cars, precisely because they’re convinced (with reason) that they’ll wind up paying fortunes to replace standard transmissions which have been ruined by people who think they know how to drive stick-shifts (and don’t), people who want to learn to drive stick-shifts (but don’t want to tear up some friend’s car’s transmission), and utterly clueless people who think that “stick-shifts are cool. Huh huh huh huh huh huh.” Which makes it a PITA for those of us who *do* drive sticks allatime, prefer them because we hate cars that try to think for us, and would much rather drive them on the infrequent occasions when we *have* to rent a car.

  4. It’s another good reason to visit Europe — renting a manual transmission car is cheaper there than renting an automatic.

  5. Nothing about New Orleans streets make sense; I think they only made up the street design after a lot of wine and partying. I once saw a sign for how to get to the interstate and I swear to you, it looked like someone had thrown a handfull of spaghetti on something and said, “Paint that,” because there were literally curves which circled back on themselves on the sign. And when I did merge onto the interstate, there was NO SIGN at all that there was work being done and that the lane I was in was IMMEDIATELY BLOCKED by concrete dividers and I was nearly crunched between that and the 18-wheeler who didn’t expect me. I am dimly aware that somewhere there is a toll bridge I went over not once, but twice, (two round-trips) trying to find a friend from her very poor directions, but I have no clue exactly where that bridge is or why I haven’t seen it ever again in the intervening years.
    I do love Magazine St., though. It is still one of my favorite places to ramble around for a day trip.

  6. Hey, we stayed on St. Charles this weekend, at the Hotel Monaco. I’m sorry we never got in touch — I stopped at the Waffle House on the way back and thought of y’all.

  7. I’ve always found New Orleans fairly easy to navigate, actually. Well, once you get used to the one-way streets and the way some streets like Magazine turn into one-ways! Oh, and how to spell some of the streets, like Tchoupitoulas. See, there’s the River side and the Lake side, the Slidell side and the Baton Rouge side. Don’t worry about N, S, E &W! NOLA is small enough that even if you get lost, you’re eventually going to end up somewhere familiar!

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