Thursday, February 26, 2015

Parasols: New Orleans 2012

I was living alone at the condo on Camp Street. Well, I had two cats and the dog and was in New Orleans for a month while waiting to move north. My wife had lived at the condo for about a year--working--and we, as a family, had plans to move to the city but that all fell through and, well, I ended up back in New Orleans for one final fling before we settled once again.

Anyway. I was there with said cats and dog and my good friend Francis came down from Montreal to visit (and to help with the drive north).

One thing Francis and I did was we went to Parasols, in the Irish Channel.

I'd been wanting to go there for lunch so we walked over to the streetcar stop on St, Charles and Julia, took that anachronistic transport down to Washington--the Garden District--walked to Magazine and then further till we hit the place.

Parasols has a lunch area but we went straight into the bar. Ordered up beers and some po'boys.

And more beers.

There weren't too many people there: us at the bar, maybe one or two at a table, two girls also at the bar and the bartender who was named Mike.

Mike was a youngish, redheaded, freckled fellow.

Mike was drunk as hell.


He was entertaining the two youngish women seated at the bar but had no problem getting us our beers and taking our order, no problem serving us our order. But he was full on drunk. He kept bringing out strange liquors for the girls to try and for him to try himself--along with shots of more established liquor. And beer. He put on a disheveled straw hat--sombrero-ish--and some old mardi gras beads and he was just staggering behind the bar, yet still operating it, taking money, making change, pouring drinks. This was all before noon, you understand.

Not that it was so unusual--especially in New Orleans--to find someone drunk before noon. I guess it was a little odd and humorous to Francis and I because we were sober and were at Parasols and because Mike was the bartender, not the drunk who the bartender serves. Anyway, there was an air of anything-goes and conviviality with just the few of we customers and Mike there and I could see how the day would play out if we stayed . . .

(A side note: When I went to use the Mens Room, that's when I realized there was a whole other part of Parasols, a lunchroom with tables and waitress and the kitchen. And in the Mens Room there was graffiti, one of which was scrawled Mike fucks chickens, or some such. And I knew who Mike was!)

By now Mike and the two women were pulling us into their orbit. Music was playing, drinks were going round, the sun shown outside, doors and windows open to the humid daylight . . . I knew if Francis and I had one more drink, we'd be sucked in to an early drunk and get nowhere else except back to the condo by three or four or five and a hangover by dinner. We had plans to walk Magazine and he wanted to look for some stuff to buy because Francis is always looking for gifts (well, not always).

It would have been so easy to stay.

It would have been easy to be like Mike.

In many ways, I wanted to see what happened, as the drinks Mike continued to pour down his gullet hadn't really hit him yet. But . . . we had to get out of there.

And so we did. Had a nice buzz for the next hour or so. Took the streetcar back (or maybe the bus, from Napoleon and Magazine). No doubt we went out that night--went into the Quarter, to the Chart Room and Harry's Corner, Lafitte's Blacksmith--my, our, usual places--no doubt with my other good friend (named Mike) who lived and still lives in New Orleans. No doubt we--that night--were like Mike.

But I don't remember that night, not as clearly as I can recall Parasols, the first and only time I've been there.

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