Sunday, November 22, 2015

New Orleans Continued (What Top Shelf Really Means)

A steady rain was falling in New Orleans that Sunday morning as we stepped out of the front door of the Lafayette Hotel. A 15 minute walk to the east later, thoroughly soaked, one of the party was smiling, on the inside...the other was thinking very loudly, "I told you we should have taken the car."

Cafe Du Monde: packed with soaking wet tourists and aging hipsters who had been out all night for the Halloween party/parade. We could tell this was true because of the large number of distinguishly dressed vampire men and scantily dressed vampiresses seated at the small, very small tables packed too tightly together. Both vampire-genders with the requisite painted on blood streams emanating from the corners of their mouths.

The air was thick with water from the incessant rain, humid in October, peanut oil and powdered sugar from the beignets, coffee, sweat, and the pitched battle between the differing notions about what is the most romantic New Orleans setting:

1) The Cafe Du Monde, hot coffee and beignets, on a sunny day after a nice leisurely walk


2) The Cafe Du Monde, hot coffee and beignets, on an overcast day after a nice hurried walk through the rain.

An old man sat just outside the over hang with his trombone. He played Happy Birthday for a man and woman touristy couple. Yay! Let's all sing happy birthday so these people can have a wonderful memory. Ironically, he led us all in a chorus of "You are My Sunshine". Rub it in old man.

Patt tipped the waiter who brought us our beignets and coffee a little more than she should've because we got the distinct impression that he suspected us of pocketing the tip from a previous couple when we sat down to the dirty table (the only empty dry one we could find). He had failed to bus it prior to our sitting down.

The walk back was  a little better, it had finally stopped raining but the humidity and the aroma of rotting fish wafted in from the Mississippi River. We stopped at a few times on the way back to the hotel,- the cigar shop where one can see authentic looking brown people hand rolling cigars and the candy shops.

14 pounds of fudge and pralines later we were back at the hotel preparing for the highlight of the evening- Reservations at Emeril's just 4 blocks away.

Remember when I said it was raining? Well it had now really started raining. What had been periodic bands of steady rain interrupted by slightly longer episodes of misty drizzle had now turned to deluge. It was because of this, and not Patt's constant insistence that we ask valet services to retrieve our car, that I asked the hotel valet to get the car. To make sure we were not late we left an hour early.

In part 1 I mentioned that we were almost out of gas, so the first thing we did was try to find a gas station. The previous night there were no gas stations anywhere in New Orleans. None, But this night, when we had a whole hour to kill, there were gas stations magically deposited on every street corner. Marie Laveau  is NOT DEAD! Thank you very much! I am convinced there is some voodoo magic in play when tourists low on gas in their car, and high on gas in their bellies enter the city. Magically there are two Canal Streets, magically there is a parade right through downtown, magically there is not stop rain from a hurricane named Patricia, magically, there are no gas stations anywhere. Magically, the city is trying to trap you there!

"There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy, Horatio" - King Hamlet of Denmark.

Getting refueled provided us the ability to drive around in circles in a downpour in the middle of New Orleans until the restaurant opened. About 15 minutes prior to our reservation we had both had enough of seeing the same buildings over and again that we decided to pull up to the valet space at Emeril's. The Valet met us there; he opened the door for Patt and provided an umbrella'd walk into the establishment. We were invited to sit at the bar - the restaurant staff were still in their pre-open staff meeting/pep rally in one of the back rooms- Patt ordered a Blood Mary. As it turns out, the Bloody Mary was a safe conservative drink on that night. I applaud Patt for her conservatism...(do not read too much into this statement, it is entirely possible to be conservative without being Conservative).

Wait, what?
I, on the other hand, being on vacation, and wanting to experience it to its fullest ordered something quite different. Patt sat next to me at the bar and noticed way up behind the bar on the top shelf a row of Glenlivet bottles.

"Oooh a Glenlivet 25" I said. So when the bartender approached me I ordered a "Glenlivet 25, neat"

Because when "I drinks whiskey I drinks whiskey, when I drinks water I drinks water." - Micheleen Flynn, The Quiet Man.

So, at this point ensued a battle of wills in our efforts to control our facial expressions. The bartender tried very hard not to insult me but I could detect the slightest hint of a "you are too big for your britches" expression my dad used to give me.

Of course, I could not back out now, so I confirmed my order. I will admit that I began to worry when the bartender pulled a ladder out from behind a column and began to climb. Could it be that those were, indeed, NOT display bottles and the Glenlivet 25 I ordered was so scarce, so precious that it had to be kept safe on a shelf 15 feet in the air, behind a solid oak bar defended by two tenders?

Yes it could be. Because as he was pouring out the shot he explained how the top shelf bottles were remnants of a Glenlivet Tasting the restaurant had recently had where patrons paid through the nose for the priveledge of tasting whiskey at a private party at Emeril's.

It was at this point I decided to sip my whisky and actually had enough left to sip with my dinner!

Okay, so, now it was my turn to try to be cool and not give away anything with my facial expressions when the bartender brought me the bill. I reviewed the line items contained therein.

"Bloody Mary, $10.50. Check"
"Glenlivet 25, $132. Check..." - you are now entering into my Stream of Conciousness Discussion with Myself  -  'wait, what? must be the wrong bill, nope, right bill, Patt's bloody mary, my whiskey, with tip that's going to be just south of $200, my God! Better show Patt, no don't show Patt, but which card are you going to use?, it'll be embarrassing if you have to ask her which card to use, because you really don't pay attention to how much money is in which bank because you do that everyday at work and just let your wife handle the money, and, geeesh what kind of man are you anyway? Don't look worried, just take another sip of the whiskey, NO! Don't sip the whiskey, savour it! No don't savour it, keep it, keep it forever, YES YES YES, I keeps it forever, it is my PRECIOUS!!!!"

Paid for it. Asked the bartender if I did a good job of hiding my concern in my facial expressions. He said I did and then he asked me if he did a good job of hiding his. I said he did. He then poured Patt and I a small shot of a much cheaper whiskey to try on the house.

Our name is called as the bar was filling up with patrons waiting on their own reservations. We are escorted to our table, a secluded table in the corner at the far back wall of the establishment. Waiters! Waiters! Everywhere, dropping napkins in our laps, moving and replacing various odd dishes, turning over wine glasses, introducing the specials. And me holding The Precious, sipping gently.

"So", Patt says, as she peruses the menu, "I have about $170 to spend, let me see..."

I ordered the Ceasar Salad - it was real! right down to the natural-state of the anchovies. The pumpkin soup - excellent!, and the quail. Patt got the gumbo, the charred kale salad which, she says, was the best part of the meal, and the duck.

Emeril's Banana Cream Pie for me and the Salted Caramel Cheesecake for Patt and I could not have had a better night! and I now know what Top Shelf Really Means.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


If you know me; like if you really know me; there is no way you believe that this list will be short.
pet peeve
plural noun: pet peeves 
                                      something that a particular person finds especially annoying.
  1. Using the word "like", like every other word, like using "like", adds emphasis to, like, something you really like, like the word "like" really means like.
    2. Peeple who have a peace of paper the prooves someone taught them something assuming because I dont have a peace of paper that prrovves some one taught me somthieng makes them some how supeerior.
    3. Bad grammar and spelling. Poor grammar you idiot! I am always doing that. Getting better, because now I cringe as this is coming off my tongue, instead of not realizing it has done so.
    4. Run on sentences that do not use the awesome semi-colon; the colon is seldom used as well: not like the overused comma.
    5. Floating obliviates- you know what and who you are. Maybe you don't?
    6. The guy, you know who he is, who is always talking about work-life balance and how he keeps it all together. Because, chances are good, he is the reason your work and life is now out of balance.

     8. Words that have consecutive "u"s in their spelling: continuum, for example. I mistruust them. And do youu have any idea how many there are in the English Languuage? And do youu know how hard it is to write words like this in cuursive!?! I always seem to end uup with 3 or 4 "u"s, like, youu know, continuuuuum.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Eastward into Big Easy or (Never Pass Up an Opportunity to Get Gas or Use the Restroom) or (How to look like you did the nasty when you didn't) Part 2

Let me set the scene. Downtown New Orleans. I don't know where. W****gr**** pharmacy. Two bathrooms, both with combination locks - because, I had forgotten, in big cities, if an establishment has public restrooms, they are locked because of what big city folk do in them, and a half dozen zombies in pharmacy uniforms.

Patt and I walk in quickly, very quickly, scan the back wall of the store for the restrooms. We find a Pharm-zombie and he points to the restroom. "they're locked" he says, "I'll have to let you there in a minute."

Patt stands by the ladies room door. I stand by the men's room door, legs crossed, stomach gurgling, a look of urgency on my face. Pharm-Zombie comes around the corner and in my heightened phase of awareness I asked him to let us in "her in there!" pointing to the ladies room door. "Me in there", pointing to the men's.

A quick 4 digit code that took about 6 and a half weeks to punch in and the doors were open. As I entered I could sense, and apparently my bowels could too, that relief was almost there. But, things slowed down, I could count the flickering of the fluorescent lighting, 60 times per second, I checked. My voice dropped an octave, my enunciation was slurred, and the phrase I screamed, seemed to take a week.


This would not normally be a bad thing; in fact I would prefer a one hole toilet just for the privacy. But when Vicksburg MS, Cra**** Ba***** (VMCB) is crawling out of one's colon, a one hole toilet with a drunk reading the Times Picayune perched, obviously for the long term, does not stop the train leaving the station (see an early post detailing a severe stomach virus), in fact, it steps on the accelerator.

I left the men's room and waited while the VMCB decided it's current southern route should be abandoned for one up north until Patt exited the ladies room.

"Is anyone in there? let me in. Stand guard, don't let anyone in."

Patt is awesome! She let me in and took her post at the door.

I remember thinking as I entered the stall furthest away from the door, "Wow the ladies have 3 stalls! Why don't we men have three stalls?". Just a side note ladies, treat us like animals and we act like animals. I'm just sayin'.

Belt Buckle. Check
Zipper...Button Fly Jeans! I am too old for button fly jeans! One button, two button, three button, hold on there fella you can do this!
A quick little dip and flip and the back alley is open for deliveries!
Flop on the seat.....

We interrupt the graphic description that follows with a single innocuous image that, we hope, will accurately convey our message without causing this post to receive an R rating.

* this scene from Dumb and Dumber used without permission.
 Anyone that has ever been in this situation will know there is a roller coaster ride ahead, intense nausea and gurgling becomes more intense until one thinks he is going to die, then at the apex of this displeasure, one actually wishes to die, and then a bombastic release and then a sense of immense peace; until, that is, the roller coaster cart begins its ascent up the next hill of "wishing for death". It was during the second of such "cycles of despair" that I heard the door to the ladies room open.

Apparently the Pharm-Zombie punched in the code and swung open the door so quickly to let another patron in that Patt could not block her way.

Now, I am a pretty reasonable guy. Not too much in this crazy mixed up world really gets to me. But one of those things applies to movie theaters, restaurants, and, yes, restrooms - men's and ladies.


Several very, very awkward moments elapsed where I alternated between gentle release and heroic efforts to hold back the flood until finally the lady in the stall next to me flushed and I heard the stall door unlatch and swing open. Of course, I waited for the requisite washing of hands and a few more seconds to allow the lady to exit.

I then began a very hurried clean up and re-robing, flushed myself, and swung "my" stall door open to make a quick exit. As I did I saw Patt standing there...wait for it.... the lady who was still preparing herself to leave the restroom!

Patt and I opened the restroom door to make a break for it and what awaited us there? Pharm-Zombie and a line of men and women waiting for their turn in two of the most secured restrooms on the planet. While no one said anything out loud, we did get the definite vibe from the looks on their faces that we had, indeed, been doing a little more than voiding bladders in the ladies restroom.

We searched the pharmacy for some Gas-X or Pepto to go but had to weed through Pharm-Zombies and shopping zombies, shelves of prophylactics, cigarettes, beer, and whiskey.

The next hour was spent finding the correct Canal Street and finally heading in the correct direction only to find that New Orleans was holding its Halloween Parade. Canal Street blocked off, traffic! all of it going in our direction, a zig zag or two through the business district to St. Charles we finally pulled up in front of the Lafayette Hotel, checked in, handed the keys to the valet and eventually to our room.

Did I mention that the outer bands of hurricane Patricia were dropping a constant misty rain on the city?

But let's top off the night shall we?

The Lafayette Hotel's Desi Vegas Steak House
Patt had a bloody mary - I had a 15 year old Bowmore (tasted leak peat moss-it was excellent)
Center Cut Filet Mignon Oscar
Shared potatoes au gratin and creamed spinach
The picture on their web site is taken from the table at which we dined.

part 3 continues in my next post where I find out what Top Shelf really means.