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by T. Mike

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9

just a line

Part 3

New Orleans: A Night of Passions, A Day of Regrets, A Hotel Room of Stenches.

      We Van Gogh-Gogh six arrive in New Orleans, check into our hotel, and the first thing we do is cram ourselves into a hotel shuttle van identical to the one we just spent an ungodly amount of time in. Whisked away into the grimy heart of New Orleans, we each spend a moment with our private thoughts, as the van is too full of strangers for us to feel comfortable making the usual fart jokes. Charles thinks of New Orleans spreading open wide her arms to welcome him back, as he once spent an entire Duke semester drinking here. Jason is only now coming out of a sweaty trance-like state induced by his earlier, desperate attempts to find somewhere to plug in his VCR and TV in the van. "Why doesn't the cigarette lighter converter work?" He mumbles over and over like some maddening mantra. Al wonders why he and Charles and Jason got stuck with the hotel room that smells like male cat spray. Rob and Galen wonder how they managed to stick the other guys with the room that smells like male cat spray. Me? Just excited that our room has a refrigerator where we can safely store our Continental Cola and Dart for the night.

      That night we spend big bucks on real New Orleans food. Of course, technically, McDonald's is real New Orleans food inside the city limits. But we use our cagey traveler's eye to seek out a restaurant with "N'awlins" in the title and then carefully scan the menu to be sure that the prices are high enough to determine that this tourist trap is the real McCoy. We dine in confidence and utter gluttony, having existed for over 8 hours on only chips and off-brand soda. Our waiter warns us away from ordering the alligator, claiming, "it's mostly chicken."

      After dinner, our tastebuds ravaged by the cajun scorched-earth policy toward spices, we seek drink. We amble into the decaying French Quarter, encountering a scene not unlike a permanent frat party, happily drinking (no open container laws here!). I myself order a hurricane from a "bar" the size of a janitor's closet. I'm alarmed to note that the mixed drink in question pours out a clear tube that disappears into the ceiling. Galen wants to see a female impersonators show, but we decline because we are irritated by the two-drink minimum policy as we are all already carrying two drinks apiece. We satisfy ourselves instead by looking at pornography in one of the French Quarter's many friendly pornography/t-shirt/voodoo stores. We buy a voodoo charm for luck at our Austin gig. To work properly, the charm has to be misplaced and forgotten about within 72 hours. A smiling Jason says, "Leave that to me!" The charm's loss is just as well, for we would never have been able to smuggle it back into North Carolina past the Baptist customs patrol and their charm-sniffing dogs.

      The next morning we arise feeling fresh as daisies, or at least what daisies grow out of. Al pukes several times in a most undaisy-like fashion. The rest of us wonder if this isn't Al's clever scheme to monopolize the comfy "shotgun" seat in the van. And in the van we pack, our night's adventure done, and the road beckoning! Soon we would be in Austin, but first we had one more stop to make: Chappell Hill.

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