Friday, June 30, 2023

Booking in the Big Easy

Kurt Zimmerman and Russell Desmond

  The Big Easy is.  I am in the middle of Bourbon Street at night, leaning over, elbows on knees, head down.  Lined up next to me are five other middle-aged white guys in a similar stance.  The man beside me is groaning, saying his bad left knee isn’t going to hold up much longer.  A lively crowd surrounds us including our disconcerted wives.  The smell of spilt beer and less amenable odors permeate the surroundings, the whole scene lit up by the neon glow of the Hustler Hollywood sign nearby. 
        Within a few moments there is a whoosh over my head and a lithe, athletic black man lands just past me.  He has hurdled all six of us as the finale to a street show.  He grins widely, shakes my hand, and thanks me for my participation.  He and his other two cohorts have spent the previous minutes regaling us with gymnastic / break dancing moves, and energetic music blasting from a portable speaker.  Their lead MC is a running comedy show.  He pokes fun at racial stereotypes, extolling the crowd to cheer louder, all-the-while appealing for generous tips. 
        I am selected from the revved onlookers to participate in the finale by the MC who is looking for “rich, white guys.”  He’s one for two in my case, but I’m rather tall and make the mistake of standing in the front row.  The MC leads us in absurd dance moves before the mighty leap.  I see a lot of phones recording.  At the end, I tip the enterprising trio all the cash in my wallet totaling $12, confirming their poor choice (I spent most of my cash on books earlier).  I make my way to my wife Nicole who is wiping tears of laughter from her eyes and still holding the book bag. 
        This is our anniversary trip to the Big Easy – the first visit for us to New Orleans as a couple (why did it take us almost twenty years?).   More unexpected experiences await us including further pillage amongst a bevy of used bookstores.