The Puddle Olympics and Things better left unsaid.

This weekend the spouse and I got to go visit with some friends that we made that have moved away. We met in the "middle" as it were, in The Big Easy. The weekend was going to be a grand adventure of touring and epic photos and food. It was very little of that, but it was AWESOME in its random amusement.

I am a HUGE fan of people watching, and if you like this pass time as much as I do, YOU REALLY NEED TO GO TO BOURBON STREET. Yes, that Bourbon Street. Seriously. There is so much epic human behavior it is breath taking. Not just there, but the whole New Orleans experience. You just have to walk around and be alert to the folks around you. It. Will. Not. Disappoint.

Let me ask a simple question. Beyond the tragedy of Katrina, what does anyone know of New Orleans? That there is good food? Check! That there is debauchery to be seen and or participate in? Check! That it is a good family vacation destination? Check??? Hold that thought.

We arrived Saturday afternoon and the hotel room, while nice, was confusing. We had THREE missing bulbs in the bathroom, more accurately one missing and two dead. The best part of the bathroom to me was the fact that this would be the time I didn't bring a hair dryer and the occupants before us must have stolen the one supplied by the hotel. Of course. We had to ask TWICE to have one delivered. This was not a Motel 6 because that bitch would have been screwed into the wall. This was a NICE hotel, so it was with much head scratching when we had to repeat the request. They were pretty busy so perhaps our leaking faucet, missing and dead light bulbs and lack of hair dryer were way down the list. That and I don't tend to make a fuss (if you can believe that). I usually kindly state my request, thank the people for their time and then repeat as necessary. I have this unfailing faith that if I do something to piss of the service person (regardless of the specific service) it will end up coming back to bite me in the ass in some karmic fashion. I don't want to get zapped while trying to dry my hair, or get spit in my food... You name it, I can imagine it. So I just don't go there. Having to ask twice for a hairdryer and that the hot water handle not leave a lake on the counter every time I use the sink, I am OK with that.

We tried to time this visit starting about two months ago to coincide with trying to get a specific hunt on for some Crawfish. My friend's entire family is basically from Louisiana, so she has been telling me for years that we are going to do a Crawfish Boil when they are in season. The hotel told us there were two places to choose from to get them. So Saturday night away we go. We arrive at our destination and find that while small it is very populated. We go outside to sit because it was Very Nice Weather. We sit at a table that has not been cleared. Our waitress comes out to bus the table and proceeds to take the garbage off the table and put it into the Public Garbage can on the sidewalk. No bus tubs? Hell No! We use the public garbage can that the city provides. There were no menus supplied and the dirty dishes from the previous occupants remained as we asked about Crawfish to place our order. AND They were sold out of Crawfish. The Hell you say!?!?! So off to the second location!

While we are walking to the second location, I see a mother walking, holding the hand of a toddler (2 years old MAX) and the father several steps behind with another toddler maybe a year older maybe a little more but absolutely not even 5 yet, so really why were they walking at all. I hear the father distinctly say in a tone I would say an owner is trying to coax a puppy, "Let's go see the Fire Truck. We can always use a mistake as a learning opportunity." The beauty of any trip in a large city is that I don't even have to pretend to try to keep my face blank. I am sure my face was showing every thought that went through my brain. A) I am pretty sure your children had NO IDEA what you were saying as they were not that intellectually advanced and B) I don't really think something requiring a Fire Truck is necessarily a teachable moment. But perhaps I am applying to much logic. Dunno, Could be me... And, WHY DO YOU HAVE TODDLERS IN NEW ORLEANS?

We arrive at the second suggested location only to find out that there is an almost two hour wait. That would be a no. We end up over at the House Of Blues for dinner. No Crawfish, but a decent meal was had. Upon meal completion, the evening plans were decided. Head to Bourbon Street and watch the show. There is no way to properly explain the mass of humanity on this street and it was NOT an overly busy night, and it was cool for New Orleans (mid 50s) and it had rained all day so less people were out than you would think, but they DID NOT DISAPPOINT. I am every so grateful for those two weather happenstances, more on this as we progress.

There are several things you will see and or experience while in New Orleans regardless of the time of year I am thinking.
1. We saw at least 5 brides on Saturday.
2. Street musicians playing for your spare change. Some are meh, but some will leave you with your mouth hanging open at their sheer talent.
3. Artists with their work on the wrought iron fence around Jackson's square. Again, some meh, but some that I would buy all of their work if I had the money to burn.
4. The Bachelorette parties with the matching shirts, or tiaras (hats work too), or dresses, were in the dozens. One in particular carrying around a giant inflatable penis (yes you read that correctly) from bar to bar for some unknown reason.
5. The chilren turning 21 and making a big show of it.... Again all the friends in matching attire of some determination. The Birthday Child in something announcing to one and all that it was their birthday and usually accompanied by a random list of tasks their "friends" have decided they MUST accomplish for this birthday to be a success.
6. Every bar theme you can think of is represented, and they all have their own marketing scheme to get your dollars, mostly involving a SYRUP SWEET alcoholic beverage of some sort, so you will get drunk and probably have the worst hang over on the planet from all of that sugar. Every drink they sell in their day glow color or flashing mug or fishbowl, or GIANT printed glass or bottle will get someone to ask where said drink was purchased and how they too can obtain that COOL beverage container.
7. Street performers trying to make a buck (I got a photo of a certain cartoon character walking around offering a photo op, trying to get people to pay them some money, I found it very disturbing). Apparently included in this is some womens trying to drum up some bidness in nothing but pasties, body paint and a g-string. Don't know if that one brought in any show viewers, but it SURE did generate some attention.
8. Homeless folks begging for change, or a spill and swill (meaning will you spill some of your beverage into my container for my consumption).  And for some reason MOST of the homeless I saw this time all had dogs. Healthy looking dogs. Well behaved healthy looking dogs. I found this very difficult to wrap my head around. I get that they can have a well behaved pet, but I am confused why you would HAVE A PET if you can't even afford to feed yourself or bathe. Most of the animals looked well groomed too. This would be a blank face moment right here. Two of the young homeless men had signs that said (direct quote here) "Too Ugly to Prostitute.". Uh, What?
9. Boobs and beads. That needs no explanation.  (and not mine. EVER.)

And last but certainly not least and truly in a category of its own.....

10. The smell. Sometimes it is mouth watering food. Other times it is the most vile, heave inducing thing you can imagine and THAT is why I was grateful for the lack of Baking Heat, and rain to wash some of that noxious stench away. This smell is a mixture of food. alcohol, stomach acid, and urine. Apparently the bars are so prepared if someone gets ill they just hose it out into the street and carry on. It is enough to make your head spin thinking about that. Seriously. It would never dawn on me if I decided to have a bar to have a hose out plan....

Our festivities began by making a pass down Bourbon street and getting beverages. We then parked ourselves in front of a bar where we could hear some good live music and watch the mayhem in relative safety. The highlight of our space of sidewalk was that there was a HUGE hole in the street. MASSIVE. and it was filled with fetid water. To someone sober and alert this would register as a blip on the radar, move along and avoid it and its all good. To the drunken masses? This was an Olympic Magnitude Obstacle Course of Puddle Jumping. They either flat out didn't see it, or saw it and over compensated due to impaired judgement, or they just failed. We stood in the same spot for at least 3 hours watching the epic journey of the drunk contestants.

My personal favorites of the night were people who either jumped it like they were in a hurdle race or did a Jeté across the lake. One gent actually saw it, took a giant preemptive step landing him a foot short of the rim on the "from" side and ending up dipping his heel into it on the "to" side. If anyone had gotten harmed I am pretty sure I would have been heartbroken. I feel for people in those situations, not the drunk part but the getting harmed inadvertently part, and it sucks. But the epic stupid while intoxicated? That is priceless. (and yes I have had more than my fair share of ARIs) *alcohol related incidents. One unlucky gent at the end of the night ended up sitting in said puddle. Sitting. In something I can't even begin to describe. I think I would have to burn any clothing that touched that puddle and perhaps self immolate, it really was that bad. The poor soul walked over to the building and took his shoe off to get some of the moisture out I would imagine. BAD IDEA. He got as far as bending over and started to dry heave. Needless to say I would imagine those shoes are no more.

We packed it in around 2  AM, headed back to the hotel, and while on our return journey, we realized that we had all consumed more than we probably intended, we were happy, there were no ARIs and there was no stumbling bumbling idiocy. We all paid for it the next morning, but we had FUN.

Day two was to become the Penultimate Crawfish hunt and consumption. Damn the Hang Over! We WOULD find and EAT many small freshwater lobsters for the mid day meal and outpace the gluttonous hordes. We arrive back at the second destination from our previous foray into the New Orleans Wilds and get told Yes, they have Crawfish and we can be seated immediately. So we have arrived at the summit of our journey. The sad part is, the spouse was feeling a little off digestively so he ops out of the experience. But our friends and I order several pounds of boiled delight and anxiously await the delivery. The food arrives and I am given Crawfish Meat Extraction lessons. We begin to eat and there is just something off. And the longer we work at the process the closer I am coming to an epiphany that something is not just off but terribly terribly wrong. And this is soon confirmed when my gastronomic guides look at each other and state that these are not to be consumed. I was wondering because at one point I was going to get a drink from my glass and my hand smelled like poop so bad it made me gag. Yes, that is correct, my hand smelled VILE and there was no way I was going to be able to eat anything I had extracted from that smell. And neither could my friends. So the Big Crawfish Hunt was a big fail.

So we dejected and hungry travelers left and wandered the streets in search of anything to lift our spirits. And we did. We got live music in the streets. We got a nice cafe and pastries and candies and random small NO stores that support the recovering French Quarter fiscal damage. Next stop was a return to the hotel to nap for a bit and then once more, into the breach.

Being a Sunday, it was far less tourist traffic and far more scruffy "homeless" looking chilren. We once again resumed our post beside what we now thought of as OUR puddle to once again watch for jumping antics. Sad to say we didn't get any medal worthy competition. There was one note worthy moment which will make sense further on. We saw a girl come out of the bar we were loitering in front of with money pinned to the front of her dress as it was apparently her 21st birthday. Keep this wee lass in mind....

We did see an elderly gent, I am guessing in his mid 70s who caught the edge of the puddle who did an EPIC arm swinging stagger and lunge and managed to save himself from a face plant which would have assuredly resulted in broken something... What followed was a young man (mid 20s to early 30s) who thought he was funny trying to imitate the older man. Such a pity the little bastard DIDN'T face plant. In fact I wish I had a stick to ensure he did. I don't like people who pick on anyone, especially not old people, and the old dude was far more agile than I am. I have no doubt I would have hurt something.

EDIT!!!!!!!! I forgot the most important part of Sunday. There was a drunk man, passed out on a window ledge. This dude has got to be the MOST PHOTOGRAPHED PERSON ON BOURBON STREET that night. I still don't get how or why it was so fascinating, but it was a photo op for everyone including some ass shaking in his face as he slept and some other stuff I don't even know how to describe.

We got accosted for fundage no less than 7 times and ended the night fairly early, around midnight. MY highlight was on the walk back, where once again, people pay no heed to those around them when conducting conversations. A pack of young studs (in their minds) were blocking a sidewalk for a conversation and as we go into the street to go around them, one says VERY LOUDLY, "I warned you all, I said it was me that Farted." My response? "Thanks for sharing." My compatriots missed this little exchange, but I was highly amused. Only guys would admit farting to each other, only DRUNK guys would announce it to the world at large.

The last morning of the trip might have been my favorite because we got to see NOLA before the masses were up, so you could SEE the city and all of its beauty without all the coverings of tourists. It is truly beautiful and worth the trip if you get a moment like that one morning of quiet and awakening. We got up and went for our Beignets, which to me is a must, and as we are sitting, we notice, wait is that the? Yes, I think it is. It's the Wee Lass from the night before, across the street in her same attire lo this 8 hours after we last saw her, sans money and shoes, doing what we can only assume to be the walk of shame. Ah young love.... I hope it was a birthday to remember, or at least not one to regret.....

I look forward to our next trip and I WILL research and plan for next time as I do want to do a haunted tour and perhaps just a walking tour. There is a whole huge city to explore, and we keep getting caught on Bourbon Street, but the Sights! I swear the people watching is a BUFFET of humanity!


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