Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How can you not?

While in New Orleans, I had to stop by Cafe Du Monde and drink cafe au lait ("coffee and lait") and eat beignets ("little coronaries"). When in town, how can you not? When you go to Paris the first time, you ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower. When you go to Ireland, you kiss the Blarney stone. Unless you're me and just out of college. Then you're too cool, and you live the rest of your life without the gift of Blarney.

So I did the touristy thing. Those little powdered-sugary pillows below are beignets, a French word inexplicably pronounced "Ben Gays." History tends to savage language as much as anything else, I guess. Although after eating, I did notice a certain warming sensation in my shoulders and a loosening of those tight muscles. The cafe au lait ("coffee for tourists") was great, I think. I don't even drink coffee, so it was kind of wasted on me, but then again, so is "American Idol." But I drank some on behalf of my wife, who loves coffee, who would marry coffee if California had not passed a Constitutional amendment banning it. Then I got her a "Cafe Du Monde" t-shirt, so that when she wears it in the future, and people ask with conspiratorial, coffee-worshiping lust, "OH, did you go to New Orleans?" she can reply "No."

Cafe Du Monde ("Cafe of the 'please watch your valuables' signs") is in the touristy part of New Orleans. Ha ha! That's my joke for today, because, you see, New Orleans is in the touristy part of New Orleans. But the waterfront, especially, is pretty much all trinket shops and mimes. One guy, his head and body all in silver like a robot, did a routine where someone, usually a child, would put a dollar in the cup he was holding, and he would release the bottom, so the buck would fall out on the ground, and they would have to put it back in the cup, and the gathered crowd would laugh. It never got old.

I have respect for the guy, though. He was in the sun, in body makeup, in 1000% humidity. Dude was working. At least that was the impression I got, watching through the window of a restaurant where the air conditioning was blasting a new part into my hair, and I had a headache from sucking down my iced tea too fast. That guy was working.

This is what you look like when you have seen too many mimes. When you have seen one too many tourists sporting a "You look like I need another beer" t-shirts. When you have, in fact, seen it all. That is not actually a leash. That is a failed noose.