Drunkard's Waltz Vetoed
Drunkard's Waltz Vetoed
Way out in the boondocks down Barataria Boulevard in Marrero you can hear the Gators at night. Out here in the boonies, big rigs blow their horns for little boys who dream of one day being truckers. This is where New Orleans sophistication turns countrified.
We meet at “Where Ya At Pizzeria” The place is made from a converted warehouse and surrounded by empty lots of abandoned boatyards. Darlene tells me that the boys at school said her daughter should have won the beauty pageant. So when the girl walks up it is a déjà vu of my quiet years as a stripling. A movie would have been the ideal date because the actors fill in the lines for my silence.
So my sister and our entourage enter the swanky joint and order our fare. The daughter is all cute smiles. A man displays his tattoo to her and she bursts into laughter. Apparently, his ink makes them kindred spirits in some way which mystifies me. April embraces him as a husband come home from war.
The mother, Darlene, dives into her monologue delivered in the Brooklynese accent of a down-home New Orleanian. She starts by telling the story of a man she knows who moved to Florida. “He had six children with six different women. He did sleep studies and sold so much blood plasma to pay child support he called his exes vampires. I told him first he needs to use condoms, next he needs to quit dating, and then he needs an amputation.”
I dig into my muffaletta which drips with cheese. A pizza as wide as a car wheel is delivered to the table. Our gang digs into it. Darlene continues, “The mayor of this city has a Bible-thumper mistress. She dictates his decisions like making the police crackdown on nudity in the Quarter at Mardi Gras. That is the problem with our mayor.”
God the place is teeming with a white bread crowd. Darlene imitates the Marlon Brando character in Street Car Named Desire’ “Stella, Stella!” she belts out. I try to keep up with her soliloquies.
April her daughter says, “God that guy with the tattoo was too much. I really don’t belong in this place.”
Darlene says, “I never go to the chain restaurants. I always go to the hole in the wall places.”
She says, “Oh Mom, these guys act as if my Miss. cutie-pie smile gives them the green light. Maybe I should dress like an Amish woman.”
Darlene gives April a wolfish grin. She tells her daughter, “Honey just tell em you’ll sic Mama bear on them if they lose their manners.”
A guy steps into April’s personal space. He says, “Come on honey, let’s do the Mamou Two-Step.”
April says, “Mister, with you only a whisker away it is like being downwind of a brewery.”
“Oh darling, I’d never ask a woman to dance if I were drunk. Please, don’t think that of me. I’ve only put away enough to give me happy feet. You are in the presence of a sterling gentleman. Now watch out for some of the other guys here. But they’ll have to go through me first.”
April says, “Well, maybe just one dance, but keep your distance or I’ll step on your toes deliberately.”
Darlene asks him, “What’s that cologne you’re wearing, the essence of hops and barley?”
“Mama, it’s just a dance. Give him a break.”
The guy says, “Come on mawmaw, I’ve been busting my ass on an oil rig all month.”
April says, “Mom, this could be his last waltz because those oil platforms blow all the time.”
“Let me have a little clean fun.”
Darlene replies, “There is nothing clean about you. The first mistake you made was treating my daughter like your tootsie. The second was calling me her grandmother. If you don’t want to get kicked out of here and have to explain to your old lady why you aren’t welcome in this joint, you better scram.” The dude slinks away like a nutria into a swamp.
After I lug my full belly to the car, April, the daughter, jumps like a bunny rabbit across the parking lot. I remember when I could do that. And I recall being a recluse at her age with so little playfulness. April is all sweet sixteen with giggles from head to toe. We take our seats in separate cars and rev our engines out into the night.