PART III – Fools Gold
I am not new to New Orleans, but it feels new. Like fresh air. Like a crash of light. Like a neon dream. My days here have got more phases than the moon and I blow through them like the wind blowin’ through the pines.
Today I awoke all sticky and then a cloud burst and it’s turned into a real gully washer. I am crying in public and a gas station attendant asks, “Are you ok? Do you need me to call the cops? Do you need me to beat somebody up?” This makes me cry even more and I’m standing there dry heaving and looking like something the cat drug in and I say, “Thank you sir, but if there was some number I could call to save me from my own depths, I would have called it a long time ago!”
Nobody did me dirty, in case you are wondering- and I’m sure that you are, ‘cause that’s what people do, they wonder. The time before this I cried because of an Aldous Harding song, and the time before that because I was thinking about an art performance piece by Marina Abramovic and Ulay, and the time before that because I accidentally killed a butterfly, and the time before that because of a poem by Jorge Luis Borges. Some things cut me right to the bone, especially the hunger of a heart expressed through art.
Yes, I can be a microburst of emotion flushed among flotsam, but it’s all just a flash in the pan and the next thing you know, I’m all devil-may-care and whatnot.
It’s early, 7 a.m. I’m on my way to stare at the Mississippi River. Tears are leaving. Spring is springing, everything is sprung. The magnolia flowers all dripping- pink, pink, pink. I pass a bunch of houses the color of candy. I ride on the beats of jazz. I can smell last night’s party on Bourbon Street. Everyone’s porch is decorated, like a float, in glittered curiosities- sea creatures, pinwheels, musical notes. A man is sitting on a porch that has been turned into the blood eating plant from “Little Shop of Horrors.” He is drinking booze and drawing something on a sketch pad- this part of the city is made of artists and bartenders and permanent transients. He sees me coming and catcalls, “Damn girl, you so fine, you could get me pregnant.” I say, “But baby, you ain’t no seahorse, and I’m not too good at breathing above water.” He says, “Well, what’s your name sweet thang?” And I say, “Honeybird, and if you need me, I’ll be standing next to a sign that says nothin’.”
The river is all fog and glass, and up looks just like down. I keep walking. I eat a popsicle that a man sells out of a purple window. I pretend to be a fortune teller in the psychic square of the French Quarter- shuffling cards, slinging spells, hiding behind a crystal ball- surrounded by the smell of piss and beer. I really can tell you you’re fortune. Are you ready for it? Here it goes; “1- You are as magic as magic gets. 2-Something that once satiated your thirst, has left you thirsty, because you forgot how to fill your own cup. 3- One day in the future, man will live on the moon. 4- If you keep staring at the ditch, you are going to end up in the ditch. 5- For the spineless to become stouthearted, all they gotta do is stay focused on the sunrise. 6- Love is above all else.”
What do you think? Is it everything you ever wanted to know? Has some sort of weight been lifted off your shoulders? I sure as do hope so.
Once there was a tree farm millionaire who lost his fortune to a psychic con that involved a wig and a baby and a fake British accent. He was filthy rich, but he was lonely…lonely enough to believe a blatant lie. It just goes to show that money never made anybody less empty.
I explore. I meet “The Silver Surfer” and he smokes jazz cigarettes, but I can’t figure out his wave or if I need a shortboard or a longboard to ride it. I fly on. I collide into the tuba and washboard of a jug band. People are swing dancing in the streets, cocktails spilling, skirts flying, feet made of feathers. It’s been a while, at least a year, since anybody has seen a wang dang doodle like this, and everybody has got the spirit of colossal squids.
I run into a girl named Billy. Every morning she draws a mustache onto her face with a black permanent marker. Most people come in different colors and flavors, but they’ve got the same aftertaste. Not Billy, I’ve never met anybody like Billy before, she works with plants, that’s probably why.
I decide to go lavish my tongue in oysters. I need to get gussied up for the oysters, and how gussied I’m gettin’ is riding on whatever bling falls out of a .25 cent machine. I pop by a 24-hour convenient store and buy .75 cents worth of fake gold jewelry from “Fool’s Gold.” There are two jesters staring at me as I spin the quarters. I wind up with a necklace that’s got a crown-shaped charm on it and two rings, one that has the words “love” engraved on it. Almost instantly the love ring tarnishes my finger green. I don’t know why I am telling you this, it seems significant, like it could be the lyrics of the next big country song, can’t you hear it?
“I found love in Louisiana
It tarnished me like a fake gold ring,
Feed my head to the alligators
‘Cause I don’t wanna feel a gosh darn thing.”
At the restaurant I fit in just fine with my cheap jewelry. The waitress has rainbow colored hair and big earrings. I order three of each type of oyster; two types come from Louisiana and one comes from Alabama. They all come from places that people were too lazy to actually name, places like “Zone 3.”
The waitress drops the plate off and tells me that you can’t eat Louisiana oysters without anything on them, she says, “To do it right, you gotta drown those suckers in so much lemon and hot sauce that you can’t hardly taste them, otherwise you are gonna be disappointed.”
I don’t listen to her. I eat the first round naked, so I can know how they really taste. The oysters from Alabama taste like pure ocean, one of the Louisiana oysters tastes like it’s been living in garden hose water for its entire existence, and the other Louisiana one is so big that I’m too focused on trying to swallow it without choking, to actually taste it.
The moonlight is liquid and full and so am I. I play chess at a cigar bar. I tell it like it is, because the smoke in the atmosphere and the heat of the game somehow strip me of my southern etiquette and give me an edge, or heck maybe it’s just those Louisiana oysters. I play too many chess games to count and my opponent and I are neck to neck and they are keeping score with extreme detail, like indicating on paper their mental state and location during each win and loss!
I climb up onto a hot tin roof. I have a ceremony under the stars with a bunch of strangers. We scatter ashes. I sleep. I dream about alligators. How they have twenty girlfriends. I dream that I kiss the alligator again, but this time it’s cold and I am wearing a coat, a swamp rat (Nutria) fur coat. Then all twenty of the gators girlfriend’s rise out of the water and eat me out of jealousy. And that right there is another country song.
*On different note, I am super excited to announce that I have a new sponsor- Kamoka Pearls and now each of you can let the jewels of the sea drip off your body for 15 % off. Discount code = OLIVIA
“A pearl is magical. It’s a shiny orb that comes out of a slippery mollusk,” says Josh Humbert of the Kamoka Pearl Farm. Kamoka produces pearls from oysters grown in the nutrient-rich lagoon of Ahe Atoll, 300 miles northeast of Tahiti. They adhere to the strictest levels of sustainable farming in the pearl world and have pioneered eco-farming techniques that have helped the environment by replenishing coral reefs and fish populations, as well as improving the quality of the pearls. The farm runs on solar and wind power, it’s fresh water comes from the rain, it’s oysters are cleaned by tropical fish, it’s farming area is a safe haven for fish to reproduce, and the mussel shell nuclei of the oysters is created from mother of pearl.
Juniper is currently moored at Kamoka and I have never seen water so alive- the reefs are in full bloom, the fish are abundant, and the pearls shimmer with a rainbow of iridescence. Kamoka is more than a farm, it’s a family and you can become a part of it by rocking one of their pearls!
3 Replies to “A LIFETIME IN LOUISIANA- PART III”
The bartender in The Dungeon always stole my hurricane glasses and all my money, I respected her ability to do so. I received my Merchant Mariner Document from the Coast Guard New Orleans District so very long ago. It seems the sea and NO just seem to be tied together despite that delta.
This version of your romp in the south is more like a Kamoka pearl than anything else . . . how you see it depends on how the light hits it and from which angle you’re looking. Thanks for reminding me that life’s like that, a surreal journey that makes absolutely no sense other than for its priceless theater.
better gitcher yayas in kamoka form ’cause da april fool day be comin’ and you be goin’…home at last.
i jus’ know it.