Mom Saves My Ass
We arrive in Slidell for our Honey Island Swamp Tour. I've talked to Paul on the phone who tells me he's been doing this for 27 years. He's cute. I meet him and a very business-like Paul Jr. when we arrive. As soon as we lay down our $23 each for the 2-hour tour, we're shooed down to the loading dock by Captain Charlie.
A few minutes later we're zipping down the Pearl River hunting alligators. Our fearless leader warns us to keep our body parts away from the sides of the boat as we approach the first of two fat gators. I'm preoccupied considering the environmental ramifications of Charlie feeding these big scaly monsters marshmallows and hot dogs. But the beasts are actually jumping out of the water for a taste of unmentionable pig parts -- so who am I to judge?
Sally is the big gator that's finally on our side of the boat, munching on marshmallows. While I'm happily snapping pictures, she's circling ... looking for treats. I'm not paying attention. I lean back -- against the railing. Mom's yelling at me. Charlie's looking nervous. I look from them to the huge gator eying my butt. Sure, it's a very tasty looking morsel -- if I do say so myself. And certainly more substantial than wieners and raw smores.
I sit down.
Mr. O's Special Sauce
It's a quick drive from Slidell into New Orleans. We take a long long walk around the French Quarter, stopping to eat biegnet (pronounced behn-yay) and drink cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde. Mother of God, my mouth has died and gone to heaven. Grandma is eating powdered sugar by the spoonful, and spilling enough of it across her bosom to make her look like a sloppy coke head. This may just be the best $10 we spend on the trip.
As Mom stops to shop at Chicos, we walk on. She doesn't want to spend enough to avoid bugs in the bed ... but she's got a twenty or two for a new outfit. Eeesh. I realize it's 5:00 somewhere ... and I need a drink. Hello, blood mary. Get this -- you can buy a drink here and WALK AROUND. I might relocate. God bless America ... and the girl that made me this drink. I swear -- it's the best damn bloody mary I've ever tasted. I actually walk back to where I bought it to thank her for making my life miserable. I'll never find it's equal.
Which I am completely convinced of a half hour later as mom and I grab two more to sip while we're relaxing in the pool. It's not as good -- sorry, Bartender John. But he does give us great tips on other places to hit later.
We head to Olivier's for dinner. Sadly, there are three other diners in this beautiful third-generation restaurant. Our three generations want authentic creole. The sad part is -- I'm not sure what that tastes like -- thoughI'm unconvinced Emeril would have been impressed with my crawfish ettouffe. The crawfish were sublime, but overall -- it wasn't that flavorful.
Was WAS tasty, however, was the salad dressing. I just about lick my plate trying to figure out what the hell it's made of. I'm told it's a Cajun Garlic Herb Vinaigrette. Blah blah blah. I want to know what's IN Mr. O's special sauce.
That just sounds wrong.
The Michael Freeman Experience
Talk about sauce ... or SAUCED. We head to Bourbon Street to catch a little blues at the Funky Pirate. Big Al Carson is playing. All I can say this large man lives up to his name and reputation (thanks for the tip, John) . The acoustics are terrible, and sadly Grandma's hearing aids can't keep up with the squealing from Big Al's equipment, so we move on.
As we're walking down the street, littered with drunk people, a curious things happens. Enter Michael Freeman. Out of nowhere, this young kid runs up and asks us to take a picture with us. Must be something about this old lady -- dressed in all black like she's heading to a funeral -- on Bourbon Street. I'm mean, the woman looks good in black -- but she's hobbling a bit after walking so much and we're a sight, I am sure.
I digress. Michael Freeman is very enthusiastic. I am sure he must be drunk, though the girls are eating it up. I tell him and his friends about the book and he goes crazy. I ask him to send us the pictures, but nobody has a pen and I am out of our business cards. I run into the closest place I can find to jot down our email address.
I'm gone less than five minutes.
When I come back, Michael Freeman has an arm around both of them and Grandma is wearing like eight strands of Mardi Gras beads. Do you know what you have to do to get Mardi Gras beads in New Orleans? As I explain it to her, she pulls her shirt away from her body and peers inside. I'm not sure what she's thinking, but I'm SURE it's time to get back to the hotel.
It's like Grandmas Gone Wild.